How To Cover Bathroom Tile With Wainscoting – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you tired of looking at your outdated bathroom tile? Want to give it a fresh new look without the hassle of removing and replacing it?

Wainscoting may be the solution you’re looking for! Not only does it add a stylish touch to your bathroom, but it also covers up any unsightly tile.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of covering your bathroom tile with wainscoting, including tips on materials, tools, and techniques.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a first-time renovator, this step-by-step guide will help you achieve a beautiful new look for your bathroom.

So let’s get started!

How To Cover Bathroom Tile With Wainscoting

Step 1: Disconnect and Remove

The first step in covering your bathroom tile with wainscoting is to disconnect the water supply to the sink and carefully remove the sink. Also, remove any towel bars or other accessories from the area that will be covered by wainscoting.

Step 2: Prepare the Wall

Cut 1/2-inch plywood into 2-inch strips and apply them over the tile. Drill through the grout lines and attach the strips to the studs in the wall using screws. These strips will be used to attach the beadboard.

Step 3: Attach the Beadboard

Attach the beadboard pieces using a nail gun. Cut them to fit using a miter saw.

Step 4: Install Molding

Install the baseboard and top molding using a nail gun.

Step 5: Caulk and Paint

Caulk all the seams and touch up the paint. With the new wainscoting installed, you can now paint the room. Tip: You might prefer to paint the bathroom walls, above the beadboard, before you start the installation in order to save having to trim paint the new wainscoting.

Step 6: Reinstall Sink

Reinstall the sink.

Materials And Tools Needed

Before starting the wainscoting installation process, you will need to gather the following materials and tools:


– 1/2-inch plywood

– Beadboard panels

– Construction adhesive

– Liquid nails adhesive

– Wood glue

– Caulk

– Paint


– Circular saw or utility knife

– Miter saw

– Nail gun

– Screws

– Drill

– Paintbrushes

– Surface cleaning product

It is important to note that if you are working with wood paneling, you will need a circular saw to make necessary cuts into corners. However, if you are working with plastic paneling, a utility knife will suffice. Additionally, when using liquid nails adhesive, it is recommended to use traditional nails as support to keep the edges in place. Finally, be sure to clean the tile with a surface cleaning product before applying any adhesive or paint to ensure a good bond.

Measuring And Preparing The Bathroom

Before starting the installation process, it’s important to measure and prepare your bathroom to ensure a smooth and successful project.

Step 1: Measure the Area

Measure the area where you want to install the wainscoting. Determine the height you want the wainscoting to be, including the trim. Use a level to draw a straight line around the perimeter of the room at that upper limit.

Step 2: Check for Uneven Floors

Due to the 32-inch height of wainscoting, measure up 32-1/2 inches all the way around to account for any issues generated by an uneven floor. Sand all the tiles below this line with fine-grit sandpaper to remove some of the glossy finish, and wipe off any dust with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Disconnect and Remove

Disconnect the water supply to the sink and carefully remove it. Also, remove any towel bars or other accessories from the area that will be covered by wainscoting.

Step 4: Dismantle and Relocate Toilet

If you plan on covering the wall behind your toilet, you’ll need to dismantle and relocate it temporarily to have full access to the wall behind it.

Step 5: Remove Existing Wall Covering

Remove any existing wall covering, including tiles. If pulling off tiles, put a screwdriver to the edge of the tile and tap firmly with a hammer until it pops off. Continue until all tiles are removed.

Step 6: Apply Beadboard

Apply vinyl beadboard to the walls using Liquid Nails adhesive and reinforce with a nail gun. Use a jigsaw to cut a neat hole around the water line for the toilet.

Step 7: Install Molding

Install molding such as chair rail or baseboards using a miter saw and nail gun.

Step 8: Caulk and Paint

Caulk all nail holes and seams. Touch up paint as necessary. With your new wainscoting installed, you can now paint the room above it.

By following these steps, you can successfully measure and prepare your bathroom for wainscoting installation.

Choosing The Right Wainscoting Style

When it comes to choosing the right wainscoting style for your bathroom, there are several options to consider. The most prevalent types of wainscoting are wood paneling, beadboard, and tile.

Wood paneling wainscoting is a classic choice that can add warmth and texture to your bathroom. It comes in a variety of styles and finishes, from traditional raised paneling to sleek modern designs. However, wood paneling may not be the best choice for bathrooms with high moisture levels, as it can warp or rot over time.

Beadboard wainscoting is another popular option that can add a charming cottage feel to your bathroom. It is made of narrow strips of wood that are installed vertically with a small gap between each strip. Beadboard wainscoting is easy to clean and can withstand moisture, making it a great choice for bathrooms.

Tile wainscoting is a functional and stylish choice that can protect your walls from water damage. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to create a unique look for your bathroom. Subway tile is a popular choice for tile wainscoting because of its classic look and water-resistant properties.

When choosing the right wainscoting style for your bathroom, consider the overall style of your home and the amount of moisture in the room. Wood paneling and beadboard may be better suited for drier areas, while tile wainscoting can provide added protection in bathrooms with high humidity levels. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the look you want to achieve in your space.

Installing The Wainscoting Panels

Now that you have prepared the wall, it’s time to install the wainscoting panels. The first step is to apply construction adhesive to the back of each piece as you stick them on the wall on top of the existing tile up to your level line. This will ensure that the panels are securely attached to the wall.

Next, use wood glue to bond the notches of the pieces together. This will create a seamless look and prevent any gaps between the panels. Make any necessary cuts into corners with a circular saw or a utility knife, depending on whether you are working with wood paneling or plastic paneling.

It’s important to note that bathroom panels are typically 38 to 42 inches high, or roughly one-third of the height of the wall. It’s best if the height does not extend above the vanity and sink. If wainscoting is higher, it can be a backsplash. However, installation will require more effort. Even if you choose high bathroom wainscoting, you don’t want anything higher than 48 to 54 inches.

When installing wainscoting over tile, it’s important to make sure that the tile is even and level before installing the wainscoting. Preparing the surface appropriately is essential to ensure a smooth installation and finished look. If the tile has a texture, this must also be accounted for to prevent any bulges or unevenness.

Additionally, if the tile is very shiny, you may need to rough it up with sandpaper to give the wainscoting adhesive a better grip. If the wall is especially smooth or glossy, adhesive specifically designed for tile or even backer board will be needed for the wainscoting installation.

One useful tip for installing wainscoting over tile is to use Liquid Nails instead of nails or screws. Drilling through tile can be difficult and messy, but Liquid Nails can securely and permanently adhere wood or paneling even to slick tile. You’ll need a caulking gun too, but they’re only about $6.

With proper preparation and installation techniques, you can have a beautiful finished look with wainscoting going over tile in your bathroom.

Cutting And Fitting The Panels

Once you have prepared the wall with the plywood strips, it’s time to cut and fit the beadboard panels. You can buy large sheets of beadboard and paint them as you like or according to your bathroom requirements. Then, measure and cut the board according to the tile area to be covered.

It’s important to make precise cuts, so use a miter saw to ensure that the edges are straight and clean. Be sure to measure each panel carefully before cutting, and leave a small gap between each panel to allow for expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature and humidity.

Once you have your panels cut to size, apply enough layer of liquid nail adhesive on the existing tiles and press the board slowly to attach it. Use traditional nails as support to keep edges in place. You may need to use a level to ensure that each panel is straight and even.

The tongue-in-groove joint on this type of paneling can be useful to secure the next piece while drying. Take your time with this step, as it’s important to ensure that each panel is securely attached and properly aligned.

By following these steps, you can cover your bathroom tile with wainscoting and create an updated and unconventional look for your bathroom. It’s a low-cost, DIY project that can be accomplished with basic carpentry knowledge. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions such as pre-treating the beadboard with waterproof paint before installation, and finishing the edges with grout to make it completely moisture-free.

Applying Caulk And Finish

Once you have installed the beadboard wainscoting, it’s important to apply caulking and finish to protect it from moisture and give it a polished look.

If you’re installing the wainscoting in a bathroom, you will need to use a Kitchen and Bath caulking, like DAP Kwik Seal Ultra, on the edge that butts up against the shower to protect from moisture. Because this type of caulking is not paintable, you’ll need to do it after the painting is finished and dried.

Apply a thin bead of waterproof caulk along the outside of the wainscoting trim and along any edges of the main board that abut a door frame, tub or another barrier, sealing it from water. Reinstall any receptacle covers, and hook the sink and vanity back up, making sure to recaulk around the sink as well.

In most bathrooms, you will be able to slide the beadboard behind the toilet, after making any necessary cutouts for the pipes, to cover this area without removing the toilet. Always ensure the space is well ventilated, as some construction adhesives emit fumes.

Once you have applied the caulking, allow it to dry completely before painting. After painting, you can apply a finish to protect the wainscoting and give it a polished look. You can use a clear polyurethane or a wax-based finish for this purpose.

In conclusion, applying caulking and finish is an important step in covering bathroom tile with wainscoting. It not only protects the wainscoting from moisture but also gives it a polished look. Make sure to use waterproof caulking in areas that are exposed to water and allow it to dry completely before painting.