Fake Wainscoting Tutorial

An easy way to update your home with decorative moldings.This is the finished product and we created the look of wainscoting by first adding a chair rail from Lowe's using a nail gun, painted the wall in a semi-gloss white paint. You can find more ideas at my blog, www.decorchick.com.
This is the finished product and we created the look of wainscoting by first adding a chair rail from Lowe's using a nail gun, painted the wall in a semi-gloss white paint (the same as our trim color), and added the boxes, also with a nail gun.  And my walls are textured and the semi-gloss white paint still looks good. I would not recommend using liquid nails to hold the moldings up, just in case you ever decide you want to redo it.  If you ever have tried to take something down that has been glued to the wall, it doesn't come off easily and often times will leave a bit of drywall damage.
The box frames I actually cheated and bought already made at Lowe's. You can find them in their molding section.  It is a bit more expensive to do it this way, but when you are short on time and short on the right tools, this is a great solution. Plus there is no mitering to do! But all you have to do with them is paint the same color as your white wall color and nail them up. And you might notice there is a big difference in the above pictures--the most recent picture is the one with the grey walls.  We re-painted everything recently. :)
After you nail the boxes up you will want to caulk around everything and this is what I used and like this brand.
Here is a before photo with no moldings on the wall...
Here is a photo with just the chair rail and the boxes and the wall not painted white.  Please note: Back when I did this project I didn't know to paint the wall white, so one day I just did it and loved the look even more. But if you do this project, PLEASE paint the wall white first before adding the boxes. Then you won't have to cut in around the frames etc which is a complete hassle. :)
And here is one more after photo. You'll also noticed we have hardwood floors now too!  Yes, I can't stop with the projects. :)  This faux wainscoting project was so easy to do and it completely changed the look of our home. We are very pleased!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

8 questions
  • Audgy
    on Feb 11, 2016

    What color of paint is it in the first picture, with the gray paint? I love your wall décor in that picture too!

  • Judi
    on Sep 2, 2017

    Is there a rule for the size above and below the frame?

  • Harriet Barnett Mantini
    on Mar 28, 2018

    I would like to try this! Also love the gray wall color. Can you give the name and brand?

  • Beatrice kirk
    on Mar 29, 2018

    love the look, but do you have to have tall ceilings? I'm thinking in my house it would make my rooms look shorter.. I have average height rooms.

    • Darlene Pearson
      on Mar 30, 2018

      No, you don't need tall ceilings, I have wainscoting in my front hall and going up my stairway, and I have 8' ceilings and it looks great

  • Peg21582444
    on Mar 31, 2018

    How high did you install the chair rail?

  • Cmv12567344
    on Apr 2, 2018

    I love this idea. Am thinking about doing this along the stairway in my foyer. What is the best way to handle the angle of the stairway to make the squares/rectangles of the wainscoting?

    • Lisa Elias
      on Apr 7, 2018

      they will have to be trapezoids, with the top and bottom parallel with the slope of the stairs and the sides vertical, (parallel to the spindles)...

  • Car4354532
    on Apr 25, 2018

    What paint did you use on your finished project? I absolutely love the subtle contrast between the two colors. Exactly what I’m looking for!

  • Alta M Gorman
    on Jun 19, 2020

    Where did you get the white shelf/ledge from?

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