Should I Paint Wainscoting? Pros And Cons You Need To Consider

Wainscoting has come a long way from its original purpose of protecting walls from damage. Nowadays, it’s seen as an elegant architectural feature that can add a touch of sophistication to any room.

But if you’re considering wainscoting for your home, you may be wondering whether or not to paint it. While some prefer the traditional look of natural wood, painting wainscoting can give it a modern twist and make it more versatile.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of painting wainscoting and provide tips on how to do it right.

Should I Paint Wainscoting

One of the main benefits of painting wainscoting is that it can give your room a fresh and updated look. By choosing a color that complements your walls, you can create a cohesive and modern aesthetic. Painting wainscoting can also help to hide any imperfections or blemishes in the wood, giving it a smoother and more polished appearance.

However, some may argue that painting wainscoting takes away from its natural beauty and charm. If you have a historic home with original wainscoting, painting it may not be the best choice as it can diminish its value and authenticity.

Ultimately, the decision to paint wainscoting comes down to personal preference and the style of your home. If you’re unsure, consider testing out a small section before committing to painting the entire room.

The Benefits Of Painting Wainscoting

There are several benefits to painting wainscoting. First and foremost, it can give your room a fresh and updated look. If you have outdated or worn wainscoting, painting it can make a big difference in the overall appearance of the room. By choosing a color that complements your walls, you can create a cohesive and modern aesthetic.

Another benefit of painting wainscoting is that it can help to hide any imperfections or blemishes in the wood. If your wainscoting has scratches, dents, or other flaws, painting it can give it a smoother and more polished appearance. This is especially true if you choose a color that is similar to the natural wood tone, as it will help to blend any imperfections into the background.

Painting wainscoting can also be a practical choice if you have children or pets in your home. Wainscoting is often located in high traffic areas, and can be prone to scuffs and marks. By painting it with a durable and washable paint, you can easily clean up any messes or spills without worrying about damaging the wood.

Finally, painting wainscoting can be a cost-effective way to update your home’s interior. If you’re looking to refresh your decor without breaking the bank, painting your wainscoting is a great place to start. It’s a relatively simple DIY project that doesn’t require a lot of time or money, but can make a big impact on the overall look and feel of your home.

The Drawbacks Of Painting Wainscoting

While painting wainscoting can have its benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One of the main concerns is that the paint can chip or peel over time, especially in high traffic areas or rooms with moisture. This can lead to a need for frequent touch-ups or even a complete re-painting of the wainscoting.

Another potential issue is that painting over the natural wood can make it more difficult to maintain and repair. If there are any scratches or dents in the wainscoting, they may be more noticeable and harder to fix with paint covering the surface.

Additionally, painting wainscoting requires careful preparation and attention to detail. It can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, especially if you’re doing it yourself. You’ll need to properly sand and prime the surface before applying the paint, and you may need multiple coats for full coverage.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, painting wainscoting may not be the best choice for historic homes or those with original woodwork. It can detract from the authenticity and character of the space.

Choosing The Right Paint Color For Your Wainscoting

Once you’ve decided to paint your wainscoting, choosing the right color can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect shade for your project:

1. Consider your aesthetic: If you’re going for a clean and modern look, a monochromatic color scheme may be the way to go. Painting the wainscoting in the same color as the walls can tone down its traditional feel and make it more contemporary. On the other hand, if you want to make a statement, a contrasting color palette can give your wainscoting a strong presence.

2. Use color samples: Before committing to a color, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy. Most paint stores offer color samples that you can take home and test on your walls to see how they look in different lighting.

3. Choose the right paint: Not all paints are created equal, and choosing the right one can make all the difference. For wainscoting, we recommend Regal® Select Interior paint, which offers excellent hide and uniform finish and is available in over 3,500 colors.

4. Consider your flooring: Your flooring can play a big role in determining the right paint color for your wainscoting. If you have dark floors, painting your wainscoting in a lighter shade can create a balanced palette. Conversely, if you have light floors, painting your wainscoting in a darker shade can add depth and dimension to your room.

5. Test, test, test: Finally, don’t be afraid to test multiple colors before making your final decision. Paint a small section of your wainscoting with each color you’re considering and observe how it looks throughout the day in different lighting conditions.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to choose a paint color for your wainscoting that enhances the beauty of your space and complements your personal style.

Preparing And Painting Your Wainscoting

If you’ve decided to paint your wainscoting, there are some important steps you need to take to ensure a professional-looking finish. Here is a detailed guide on how to prepare and paint your wainscoting:

1. Clean the Wainscoting: Before you start painting, make sure the wainscoting is clean and free of any dirt, dust, or grime. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the surface and let it dry completely.

2. Prep Your Space: Cover the floors and any nearby furniture with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect them from paint splatters. Also, remove any hardware or fixtures from the wainscoting, such as outlet covers or light switch plates.

3. Test for Lead Paint: If your home was built before 1978, there’s a chance that the wainscoting may contain lead paint. You can purchase a lead paint test kit from a hardware store to check for lead before proceeding.

4. Sand and Clean Again: Use sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the wainscoting, which will help the paint adhere better. After sanding, wipe down the surface again with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

5. Prime the Wainscoting: Apply a coat of primer to the wainscoting using a brush or roller. This will help the paint adhere better and provide a smoother finish.

6. Repair Any Cracks or Holes: Use wood filler to fill in any cracks or holes in the wainscoting. Once it’s dry, sand it down until it’s smooth and flush with the surface.

7. Paint the Wainscoting: Using either a medium paintbrush or paint roller, begin by painting along the top and bottom edges where the wainscoting meets the wall and floor. Paint the indented panels and the molding around them using up-and-down strokes on the vertical areas and back-and-forth strokes on the horizontal areas.

8. Let Dry and Apply a Second Coat of Paint: Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely before applying a second coat for a more even finish.

When selecting your paint, consider using waterborne alkyd paints over oil paints for their durability, lack of yellowing over time, and easier clean-up. For semi-gloss or satin finishes, choose based on your personal preference and method of application (spraying vs brushing).

By following these steps, you can transform your wainscoting into a beautiful and updated architectural feature that complements your home’s style.

Maintenance And Care For Painted Wainscoting

Once you’ve decided to paint your wainscoting, it’s important to properly maintain and care for it to ensure it stays looking its best. Here are some tips:

1. Clean regularly: Like any painted surface, wainscoting can collect dust and dirt over time. To prevent buildup, use a soft brush or duster to wipe down the surface regularly. You can also use a vacuum cleaner brush attachment to remove any loose debris.

2. Avoid harsh chemicals: When cleaning your painted wainscoting, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the surface. Stick to mild soap and water, or a vinegar and water solution.

3. Wipe up spills immediately: If you spill anything on your painted wainscoting, be sure to wipe it up immediately with a damp cloth. Leaving spills to sit can cause stains and damage to the paint.

4. Touch up as needed: Over time, your painted wainscoting may develop chips or scratches. To keep it looking fresh, touch up any areas as needed with a small brush and matching paint.

5. Consider a protective coating: If you anticipate heavy wear and tear on your painted wainscoting, consider applying a protective coating such as polyurethane. This can help to prevent scratches and damage to the paint.

By following these simple maintenance and care tips, you can ensure that your painted wainscoting stays looking beautiful for years to come.