how to do your own faux wainscoting |

If you saw my dining room update post, or my IG story teasers back when we were doing this project, then you’ve been waiting patiently for this faux wainscoting post. Because it completely transformed our dining room from a sad/drab/ugly space to a bright and cheery spot that has quickly become a family favorite. After I received many, many, MANY requests on IG for details on how to do this I decided to throw together a DIY post for you guys. But first, let’s revisit what the room looked like before…


how to do your own faux wainscoting |

It was just so boring and beige and blah. All it needed was a little love. You can see the after in my previous dining room update post here


What You’ll Need:

  • Miter saw or hand saw with miter box (which is what we used, but if you don’t have one with clamps you will need a second set of hands)
  • White cap moulding (we used 1-1/8″ x 8 ft pieces and cut them down) to make your own frames, like we did, OR you can use pre-made panel frames which cost quite a bit more money but are much less work. 
  • Contruction adhesive (for our room we needed to open a second container, so have at least two on hand)
  • Caulking gun — this makes applying the adhesive way easier and smoother so I would 100% recommend getting this!
  • Sandpaper
  • Measuring tape
  • Level (I would actually recommend having two — one longer one for checking that panels are level with each other and one smaller lightweight one to put on top of the panel and check each individual panel as you glue it to your wall)
  • paint (whatever color you want to paint your wall with the panels — we did white) and supplies (roller, angled brush, drop cloth, etc.) for painting the wall and wainscoting when you’re finished.

how to make your own faux wainscoting | ohlovelyday.comhow to make your own faux wainscoting |

The first thing you need to do before you buy any paneling or moulding is to measure your walls and sketch out how many panels you’ll be making on each wall. If you are making your own panels you can make them whatever size you want. If you are using pre-made ones you should check what the basic size is so you can measure how many would fit on each wall and measure the right space between them. Then once you know how many you’ll need you can calculate how many moulding pieces you’ll need. We bought 8 ft strips and then cut them down accordingly. Keep in mind you need to miter your edges, so you’ll need to add extra length in your calculations to account for cuts you’ll have to make to get the correct angles you’ll need (to make them into frames where the edges will match up.)

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(If you’re planning to use the pre-made panels, skip this section! This is for those of you who are making your own.)

We decided to draw where our frames would be with a light pencil just to help guide us and make sure we liked the spacing before we glued the panels to the walls. We already had a chair rail in place in the room so that gave us a slight head start and we used the rail and the baseboards to guide us on the spacing on the top and bottom of the panels. We made our panels 16×25″ and then our slimmer ones on smaller walls were 16×20″. I think we needed about 5 inches between each panel to cover the wall evenly. I think we made 16 panels total. If we had bought the pre-made ones, it would have cost us at least $200 just for the panels. Instead, we added up the length we would need (the largest panels were 82 inches total around (16″ x 2 + 25″ x 2 = 82″ total, plus a bit extra for the edges to be mitered). 82 inches per panel and we needed 16 panels, so doing the math (which took both of us with calculators, ha!) we needed around 109 feet worth. Since the boards were 8 ft long, we needed 13.6 feet. We bought a couple extra to ensure we had plenty (they were only $4.47 per board). The way we did it we made the cost of the panels $62.00 instead of over $200, plus we could make the panel sizes we wanted instead of going with the pre-made sizes.

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After you know how many panels you need, count how many sides and each length. We found it easier to make one whole panel at a time so we knew we were getting the correct angles made and not wasting board. Remember, you’ll need to trim each board down and angle the edges so they fit like a frame. For this, you need your miter saw or hand saw with miter box. Doing one frame at a time ensures you don’t cut a bunch incorrectly and then have to go back for more boards — you’ll know to correct right away if the edges don’t match up. After doing a few we got into a rhythm and moved pretty quickly. Little helpers move things along too 😉

how to make your own faux wainscoting

Next squeeze a line of adhesive along the backside of one piece of the frame. Stick it to the wall along the line you drew beforehand, using the lightweight level as you go to ensure it is straight. Tip: Always line up from the same spot with each frame (i.e. do top piece first and go from there so that the top pieces of each frame are always lined up. Ensure each frame is lined up straight with the next one with your larger level.

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This is the part where having an extra set of hands comes in, well, handy. My mom did the adhesive and lined up the frame pieces while I held the level in place to ensure we did them straight. If you need to make any adjustments you need to move fast before the adhesive starts to dry. Be sure to use hard pressure to hold the frame piece in place for a minute before moving on to ensure good adhesion.

Sharing our dining room updates so far, with some DIY wainscoting and a little paint | Sharing our dining room updates so far, with some DIY wainscoting and a little paint | Sharing our dining room updates so far, with some DIY wainscoting and a little paint |

how to make your own faux wainscoting

Once you’re finished with your panels you can fill in any cracks or gaps with a little caulk and wipe even. Let it dry and then you’re ready to paint. You need to cut in around and paint the frame trim with a brush (an angled brush works best) and then you can paint the remainder of the wall with a roller (don’t forget to remove your switch covers and electrical plates. If you need to update your switch and outlet plates, see this post for a super easy DIY).

Sharing our dining room updates so far, with some DIY wainscoting and a little paint |

And that’s how you do your own faux wainscoting! I think the look really makes the room look polished and finished and even though the frames aren’t perfect once you put furniture in the room they look like they are. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. All told, it took us two weekends after the kids were in bed to complete the wainscoting and then we painted all in one day a couple weeks later. The total cost for the entire project, including the paint. was around $150. 

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Go here to see the complete update, with the painted chair DIY, the decorative plate covers update, light fixture and rug additions, and more. And stay tuned for more home improvements here on the blog as we complete more projects in our home. I have quite a few more on the agenda in the coming months!

Do you like the look of wainscoting? What do you think of this faux version?


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