Can You Use Picture Frames For Wainscoting? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you looking to add some character and charm to your walls without breaking the bank or hiring a professional carpenter? Look no further than picture frames!

That’s right, you can use actual picture frames to create a stylish wainscoting look known as “picture-frame” wainscoting. This DIY project is perfect for those who want to add a touch of class to their home without spending a fortune or having advanced carpentry skills.

In this article, we’ll explore the steps and materials needed to create this handsome wall surface, as well as some tips and tricks for achieving a seamless finish. So, let’s get started!

Can You Use Picture Frames For Wainscoting

Yes, you can absolutely use picture frames for wainscoting! Traditionally, picture-frame wainscoting was created by making hollow squares or rectangles with wood molding that could also be used to frame pictures. However, purchasing premade picture frames and attaching them to flat wall panels is a great alternative that requires less advanced carpentry skills and tools.

Using picture frames for wainscoting is a cost-effective way to add character and charm to your walls. It’s also a great DIY project that can be completed in a weekend with the right materials and tools.

What Is Picture-Frame Wainscoting?

Picture-frame wainscoting is a type of wall treatment that creates the illusion of framed pictures on the lower portion of a wall. It is a decorative technique that adds texture and depth to a room, while also protecting walls from damage. Traditionally, picture-frame wainscoting was created by making hollow squares or rectangles with wood molding that could also be used to frame pictures. However, using actual picture frames is a modern twist on this classic technique.

To create picture-frame wainscoting, you will need to purchase premade picture frames and attach them to flat wall panels. This allows you to create the look of traditional wainscoting without the need for advanced carpentry skills or tools. You can use any size or style of picture frame to achieve the desired look, and you can even mix and match frames for a more eclectic feel.

Once you have your frames, you will need to trim them down to fit your wall size and attach them using liquid nails and a nail gun. It’s important to use a laser level to ensure that your frames are level and evenly spaced. After attaching the frames, you will need to fill in any gaps with caulk and sand down any rough spots before painting.

Picture-frame wainscoting is a versatile technique that can be used in any room of the house. It adds visual interest and texture to plain walls, while also protecting them from damage. With a little bit of creativity and some basic tools, you can create a beautiful and unique wall treatment that will impress your guests and add value to your home.

Choosing The Right Picture Frames For Your Project

When it comes to choosing the right picture frames for your wainscoting project, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to consider the style and color of the frames. Different styles and pieces work well with different materials for frames. For instance, modern pieces, such as abstract art or black-and-white photos, are complemented well by the simplistic nature of a metal frame. On the other hand, wooden frames offer a more traditional, warm look that complements paintings and wholesome photographs.

The interior design style you are after can also impact your choice between a wood or metal frame. Whether you are after a bohemian look or a minimalist style, you are sure to find the right frame to complement your area as well as your artwork.

Another important factor to consider is the weight and assembly of the frames. Lightweight wood frames made of a single strip of wood with squared or rounded edges are easy to work with and will produce the best results. Frames with carved or incised detail or those made of several strips of wood may lose their definition when painted and may be hard to mount on walls because of their weight.

Finally, consider how the frames are assembled. Look for signs of glue and corner brads, and avoid frames secured with staples or angled metal corner braces as they may skew easily and be hard to handle once backing and/or glass are removed.

Tools And Materials You’ll Need

To complete this project, you’ll need a few tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

1. Picture frames – You can purchase premade picture frames of any size, style, and color to match your decor. Be sure to measure your wall space before purchasing to ensure you have enough frames.

2. Trim – You’ll need trim pieces to frame the picture frames and create the wainscoting. You can use any type of trim you like, but 11/16 X 1-1/8 X 96 WHT CAP MLDG was used in the example above.

3. Liquid nails – This is a strong adhesive that will help secure the trim pieces and picture frames to the wall.

4. Caulking – You’ll need caulking to fill in any gaps between the trim pieces and picture frames.

5. Nail gun – A nail gun is an optional tool, but it makes the job much easier and faster. The example above used a 15 gauge nail gun and 2-inch 16 gauge finishing nails.

6. Paint – Choose a paint color that matches your decor or paint the wainscoting the same color as your walls.

7. Sandpaper – You’ll need sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or excess caulking.

8. Miter saw or miter box and hand saw – A miter saw or miter box and hand saw are necessary for making precise cuts on the trim pieces.

9. Carpenter’s square – A carpenter’s square is helpful for ensuring uniform corners on the trim pieces.

10. Laser level – A laser level is optional but recommended for ensuring that the trim pieces are level and at the right height.

11. Stud finder – If your drywall is installed directly on the studs, you’ll need a stud finder to make sure some of your nails are going into the studs.

12. Pneumatic nail gun (optional) – A pneumatic nail gun is an optional tool but can make the job easier and faster.

Step-by-Step Guide To Installing Picture-Frame Wainscoting

Here is a step-by-step guide to installing picture-frame wainscoting:

1. Measure the length of your walls and determine how much molding you’ll need. Purchase 10-20% more than you think you’ll need to account for waste.

2. Choose the type of molding you want to use for your frames. Base cap or panel molding works best for creating frames.

3. Cut the molding to the desired length using a miter saw. Make sure to cut opposite sides of the squares the exact same length to ensure perfectly square picture frames.

4. Use wood glue and 2-inch brad nails to attach the molding to scrap plywood or wood blocks, creating jigs for building the frames.

5. Sand the mitered corners and filled nail holes with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges.

6. Apply panel adhesive to secure the frames to the wall. You can also use a hot-glue cartridge for added stability.

7. Fill any remaining nail holes with wood putty and let dry.

8. Apply paintable caulk where the molding meets the walls and wipe it smooth with a damp rag.

9. Prime and paint your wainscoting frames in the finish of your choice. Gloss or semi-gloss finishes work well for added durability, while eggshell or matte finishes give a more subtle look.

10. Optional: use a scrap piece of wood cut into blocks to help measure spacing and ensure even placement of your frames.

By following these steps, you can easily install picture-frame wainscoting in your home and add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your walls.

Tips For Achieving A Professional-Looking Finish

If you’re looking to achieve a professional-looking finish when using picture frames for wainscoting, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Measure and plan carefully: Before you start, make sure to measure the wall space accurately and plan out the layout of your picture frames. Use tape to mark out the layout of all panels and step back to decide if you like it. Make any necessary adjustments before proceeding.

2. Use a miter box or Japanese Double Edge Razor Saw: You can do all the cuts for this project with a basic miter box, but using a Japanese Double Edge Razor Saw will make the job quicker and easier.

3. Create a jig for uniform corners: To ensure that your frames have uniform corners, create a jig using scrap wood and a carpenter’s square.

4. Use wood glue and brad nails or staples: To put the frames together, use wood glue and 1″ brad nails or staples. Allow time for the frames to dry before proceeding.

5. Sand and prime the frames: Lightly sand and primer coat the frames before attaching them to the wall.

6. Use carpenter’s glue or hot craft glue: Coat the back of each frame with carpenter’s glue or hot craft glue to attach it to the wall.

7. Secure with finishing nails: Secure each frame with headless finishing nails tapped into underlying studs.

8. Follow your pattern: Following the pattern you marked on each wall, attach the picture frames in the order of the pattern, working from one corner of the wall to the other.

9. Use contrasting paint: To complete the look of your half-height paneling or molding, use a contrasting paint color to dress up the unadorned portion.

By following these tips, you can achieve a professional-looking finish when using picture frames for wainscoting in your home.

Other Creative Ways To Use Picture Frames In Your Home Decor

In addition to using picture frames for wainscoting, there are many other creative ways to incorporate them into your home decor. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Create a gallery wall: Hang a collection of picture frames in different sizes and shapes to create a stunning gallery wall. Mix and match frames with different finishes and colors for an eclectic look.

2. Use frames as trays: Turn a picture frame into a decorative tray by removing the glass and backing, and attaching handles to the sides. Use it to display candles, books, or other decorative items.

3. Make a chalkboard: Paint the backing of a picture frame with chalkboard paint to create a stylish chalkboard that can be used for notes, reminders, or doodles.

4. Frame fabric or wallpaper: Use a picture frame to showcase your favorite fabric or wallpaper pattern. Simply attach the fabric or wallpaper to the backing of the frame and display it on a shelf or wall.

5. Create a memory board: Use a large picture frame as a memory board by attaching ribbons or string across the frame and using clothespins to hang photos, notes, and other mementos.

6. Display pressed flowers: Press flowers between two pieces of glass from a picture frame to create a beautiful botanical display.

7. Create a shadow box: Use a deep picture frame to create a shadow box that can be filled with small objects, such as seashells, feathers, or vintage buttons.

Overall, picture frames offer endless possibilities for creative home decor projects. Whether you’re looking to add some personality to your walls or create unique decorative accents, there’s no limit to what you can do with these versatile items.