How Much Does Wainscoting Cost Per Foot? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you considering adding wainscoting to your home but unsure of the cost?

Wainscoting is a popular wall paneling option that dates back to the 18th century and offers both protection and beauty. But how much does it cost per square foot?

The answer may surprise you. In this article, we’ll break down the costs of wainscoting materials, installation, and other wall treatments to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling your current one, read on to learn more about the cost of wainscoting per foot.

How Much Is Wainscoting Per Foot

The cost of wainscoting per foot can vary depending on the type of material used and the style of paneling installed. On average, wainscoting materials cost between $6 and $66 per square foot, with installation costs ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

For example, a 12 x 12 foot room with flat-panel wainscoting made of solid mahogany, primed, and painted on-site can cost around $3,600 for the finished project. On the other hand, simple vinyl beadboard without any decorative molding can be installed for around $1,000.

Bamboo raised-panel wainscoting with decorative molding made custom to cover 300 sq.ft. costs around $15,000.

What Is Wainscoting?

Wainscoting is a decorative wall paneling that dates back to the 18th century. Originally used as an extra layer of insulation for homes, it is now more commonly chosen for its aesthetic appeal. Wainscoting can be made of various materials, including wood, vinyl, MDF, and PVC. It is typically installed on the lower third of walls or used as baseboards.

Wainscoting comes in many different styles and designs, such as flat-panel, raised-panel, beadboard, and shiplap. Each style offers a unique look and feel to the room it is installed in. In addition to its decorative purposes, wainscoting also offers protection to walls from scratches and scuffs caused by furniture and foot traffic.

The cost of wainscoting varies depending on the type of material used and the style of paneling installed. It is important to consider both material and installation costs when deciding on a wainscoting project for your home.

Types Of Wainscoting Materials

Wainscoting can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own unique look and cost. Here are some of the most common types of wainscoting materials:

1. Wood – Wood is the most traditional and popular material used for wainscoting. It can be made from a variety of woods, including oak, mahogany, pine, and cedar. Wood wainscoting can be stained or painted to match any decor style, but it can be more expensive than other materials.

2. MDF – Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an affordable alternative to wood. It is made from compressed wood fibers and resin, giving it a smooth and consistent finish that is easy to paint. MDF wainscoting is also more resistant to moisture and warping than wood.

3. PVC – Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) wainscoting is a durable and affordable option that can mimic the look of wood or other materials. It is resistant to moisture, mold, and mildew, making it ideal for use in bathrooms or other damp areas.

4. Metal – Metal wainscoting can add a modern and industrial touch to any space. It can be made from aluminum, stainless steel, or copper and can be finished in a variety of colors and textures.

5. Stone – Stone wainscoting can add a rustic and natural feel to a room. It can be made from natural stone like granite or marble or artificial stone like cultured stone. Stone wainscoting is more expensive than other materials but can add significant value to a home.

When choosing the type of wainscoting material for your project, consider factors like durability, maintenance, style, and cost. Each material has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose one that fits your needs and budget.

Cost Of Wainscoting Materials Per Square Foot

When it comes to the cost of wainscoting materials per square foot, it is important to consider the type of material used. The cheapest option is plastic wainscoting, which costs between $6 and $10 per square foot. This material is lightweight and comes in a variety of colors and styles, making it a popular choice for those on a budget.

Real wood beadboard paneling is another affordable option, costing just $1 per square foot. However, if you’re looking for a more high-end look, solid wood wainscoting can cost up to $40 per square foot. Other materials such as mahogany and red oak fall in the mid-range, costing around $13 to $25 per square foot.

It’s important to note that the cost of wainscoting materials per square foot is just one factor to consider when budgeting for your project. Installation costs can also add up quickly, with contractors charging an average of $90 per hour or $5.50 per square foot for labor and materials combined.

Ultimately, the cost of wainscoting per foot will depend on the size of your project, the type of material used, and whether or not you choose to hire a professional installer. By doing your research and shopping around for the best deals on materials and labor, you can create a beautiful wainscoting design that fits within your budget.

Installation Costs Of Wainscoting

When it comes to installing wainscoting, the cost can vary depending on whether you hire a contractor or decide to do it yourself. If you choose to hire a contractor, expect to pay an average of $90 per hour for labor, with the installation estimated to take a maximum of 24 hours for a room of moderate to small size. This means that the cost of installation can range from $1,500 to $2,000.

However, if you plan to install wainscoting yourself, the cost can be significantly lower. DIY wainscoting projects can cost as little as $1 per square foot. To calculate the cost of your DIY wainscoting project, you will need to measure your walls and determine how much trim and supplies you will need. There are easy DIY project calculators available online to help with this task.

It’s important to note that the cost of installation also depends on the type of paneling used. For example, beadboard and shiplap are cheaper options that can be used as paneling for wainscoting. Beadboard ranges from fifty cents to $1 per square foot, with an average installation cost of $90 per hour. Shiplap ranges between $2.50 and $7 per square foot, with an average interior installation cost of $1,000.

Other Wall Treatment Options And Their Costs

If you’re considering other wall treatment options besides wainscoting, there are several choices available at different price points.

Paint and wallpaper are the most affordable options, with prices ranging from $0.50 to $5 per square foot for paint and $0.50 to $3 per square foot for wallpaper. However, they do not provide the same level of texture and dimension as wainscoting or other paneling options.

Beadboard is a popular alternative to wainscoting, with prices ranging from $0.50 to $1 per square foot for the material and an average installation cost of $90 per hour. Beadboard is made up of interlocking pieces of wood laid out in a vertical pattern and can be used as paneling for wainscoting.

Shiplap is another option that has gained popularity in recent years, thanks to home renovation shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” It ranges in price from $2.50 to $7 per square foot for the material and has an average installation cost of $1,000. Shiplap can be used both inside and outside the house and is a versatile wall treatment option.

Flat-panel wainscoting is a more affordable option compared to other types of wainscoting, with suppliers selling it for around $10 per square foot. It is a simple design that will not clash with other decorative items in your home and can be a good choice if you want to experiment with your home’s design scheme.

Pros And Cons Of Wainscoting

Wainscoting is a popular interior design element that can add both warmth and value to your space. However, before deciding to install wainscoting, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.


1. Aesthetic appeal: Wainscoting can add a decorative flair to any room, creating a classic and elegant look.

2. Protection: Wainscoting can protect the bottom half of your walls from damage, such as scuffs and dents caused by furniture.

3. Versatility: Wainscoting comes in a variety of styles and materials, allowing you to choose the perfect design for your home.

4. Added value: Installing wainscoting can increase the value of your home, making it a worthwhile investment.


1. Cost: Depending on the material used, wainscoting can be expensive, with costs ranging from $6 to $66 per square foot.

2. Installation: While wainscoting can be installed as a DIY project, it’s recommended to hire a professional to ensure proper placement and alignment.

3. Space limitations: Wainscoting can make a room appear smaller, especially if it’s installed at a high height or with dark colors.

4. Maintenance: Depending on the material used, wainscoting may require regular maintenance such as polishing or repainting.

Overall, wainscoting can be a valuable addition to any home, but it’s important to carefully consider the cost, installation process, and maintenance requirements before making a decision.