Last edited 09 Apr 2021


This image of the Interior of the Lands and Survey building, ca. 1904 shows the reception room with a large marble fireplace embellished with bas relief statuary. The pressed ceiling has raised floral motifs and the bottom portion of the room has dark timber panelled wainscoting.


[edit] Introduction

Wainscoting is a type of wall panel that is both functional and decorative.‘To wainscot’ is to line a wall with timber, which was the original material used for wainscoting, although it is now available in other materials. Wainscoting is typically found on the lower portion of an interior wall and is often used in stairways both to protect the wall and to give the impression of spaciousness.

[edit] History

The term wainscoting was derived from a type of timber board fashioned as wallcovering out of older, slowly grown, knot-free oak trees.

The application of wainscoting was commonly introduced in the 18th century, when it was used to protect walls and provide additional insulation. It also helped decrease the impact of rising damp that could occur in some types of walls. It is now used primarily for decorative purposes.

Wainscoting was originally used in floor to ceiling applications, but was later more commonly applied to just the lower portion of walls. The use of oak decreased over the years, and other types of timber became more common choices.

[edit] Application

Wainscoting is typically constructed from materials that have been fitted with tongue and groove edges. However, modern techniques make it possible to create larger, prefabricated units of customised sizes, so that fewer, or no joints are required.

This photo illustrates a faux wainscoting project in progress.

Faux wainscoting is a technique that creates the illusion of authentic panels through the careful application of moulding and paint. Chair rail and box moulding are commonly used for this purpose, although it is possible to create a similar treatment simply through the use of paint that is either separated by a single rail or a difference in colours or textures.

--Heidi Schwartz

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