How High Should Wainscoting Be?

July 25, 2023

By: The Finished Space

There are a lot of misconceptions about wainscoting and how to use it in your home. That’s why we decided to create this guide, which we hope will help you navigate wainscoting, including what it is, how you can use it in your home, and the often-debated question – how high should wainscoting be?

What is Wainscoting?

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Wainscoting is much more than a fancy design term. It’s a form of decorative paneling often applied to the lower third of your walls to create contrast and add visual intrigue. It adds texture and depth to enhance the architectural interest of your space. In modern designs, wainscoting isn’t just for traditional or classic interiors. Its versatility also extends to modern and minimalist designs, to serve as a subtle yet powerful design element.

The Differences Between Wainscoting and Panel Moulding

Wainscoting is incredibly similar to other design elements you see in the interior design space. Let’s take a moment to settle any confusion. For instance, wainscoting and panel moulding are both design powerhouses, but they’re fundamentally different.

Wainscoting typically covers the lower part of the wall and includes a top rail and a baseboard to form a full panel. It’s a complete system, often used for its protective and decorative attributes.

Panel moulding, on the other hand, is more about creating framed patterns on your walls. They can be any size, any shape, and located anywhere on your wall. It’s a tool for artistic expression that allows you to carve out unique wall sculptures, to add an artistic flourish to your space.

The Differences Between Wainscoting and Chair Railing

Then there’s the chair railing. Many people mix this up with wainscoting, but it serves a different role. A chair railing is a type of moulding that runs horizontally around the perimeter of a room, typically at the height of a chair back, hence the name. Its original function was to protect walls from damage caused by moving chairs.

Wainscoting also offers wall protection because its reach extends from the baseboard to the chair rail, which creates a more substantial architectural feature that provides much more coverage. They can coexist beautifully, but they each have distinct purposes and aesthetics.

How High Should Wainscoting Be?

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Back to the burning question – how high should wainscoting be? Traditionally, wainscoting runs about one-third of the wall’s height. However, we’re in the business of breaking design rules when necessary. Consider the style, size, and proportions of your space, and adjust the height of your wainscoting to best suit your aesthetic.

Higher wainscoting might fit perfectly with your tall ceilings, or maybe lower wainscoting subtly complements your cozy cottage-style space. The bottom line? It’s your home, so do whatever feels right for your design aesthetic.

Where to Use Wainscoting in Your Home

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Wainscoting works wonders in any room, and some spaces especially thrive with this feature. Consider the high-traffic areas of your home, like your hallways, stairways, living room, or dining room. Wainscoting adds visual appeal and protection against scuffs and dings in busy areas.

Don’t limit yourself. Wainscoting can go almost anywhere and it can create a sense of special harmony that can totally elevate your design. Here’s a list of places you can (and should) consider installing wainscoting in your home:

  • Living Rooms

  • Dining Rooms

  • Kitchens

  • Hallways

  • Bedrooms

  • Bathrooms

  • Home Offices

  • Stairways

  • Basements

  • Mudrooms

The Benefits of Wainscoting

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Of course, the appeal of wainscoting extends far beyond its pleasing aesthetics. There are so many practical benefits that make wainscoting a super popular design element for homeowners, interior designers, and developers worldwide.


First things first, wainscoting is a champion when it comes to protecting your walls. Think of it as a buffer that can shield your walls from unsightly scuffs, scrapes, and dings, especially in high-traffic areas like hallways or dining rooms.


One of the greatest strengths of wainscoting lies in its unique adaptability. It’s truly a chameleon in the world of interior design. Whether you’re aiming for a classic, traditional look, or a clean, modern aesthetic, wainscoting can seamlessly blend in.


Flat, uniform walls have a way of feeling mundane, but wainscoting can add an extra dimension to those spaces. It’s like contouring for your room, that defines and highlights architectural features that may otherwise go unnoticed.


Wainscoting can improve your home’s value by enhancing your home’s interior design and architectural appeal. If you’re looking for ways to increase your home’s value before a sale, wainscoting might be the way to go.


With a ton of styles and finishes available, wainscoting offers endless opportunities for customization. You can pick a classic beadboard for a cottage feel, a picture frame style for a contemporary look, or an ornate panel mold for a luxurious vibe. The choice of paint or stain finish further allows you to make it uniquely yours, which makes wainscoting an open canvas for personal expression.

These are just a few reasons why wainscoting could be a fantastic addition to your home. This beautiful design feature is more than just a pretty face. It’s practical, adaptable, and a true value-add to any space.

Revolutionize Your Home with Wainscoting from Metrie

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Add a touch of timeless elegance to your living room, a dash of sophistication to your dining area, or elevate your hallways from pass-through to stand out. 

At Metrie, our high-quality wainscoting is designed to complement your unique style and add value to your home.