Bathroom wainscoting is partial-wall paneling used in bathrooms. Wainscoting refers to the technique of nailing on panels of wood to the lower section of walls and topping it with chair rail molding. Chair rail molding is a narrow, decorative wood trim that is positioned horizontally along walls — often at a height in which the top edge of a wooden chair could touch it without marking the wall. Wainscoting, also sometimes incorrectly spelled wainscotting, wanescoting or wayne's coating, has its origins in England and was in common use by the 17th century to help add a stylish layer of warmth to drafty English stone homes. Beadboard is the most popular type of bathroom wainscoting.
A beadboard wainscot is one that features very narrow, flat panels. It has a more casual look than the ornate types of wainscoting found in formal living, dining and reception areas. Beadboard bathroom wainscoting is commonly painted white. The beadboard wood partial-paneling wainscot may be used on only one wall or added to each wall in the bathroom. Wood paneling and chair rail trim combinations can add interesting texture plus a country appeal to a plain white bathroom.
Another common way to use wainscoting in bathrooms is to contrast the white wainscot paneling with a dark paint color on the walls such as deep blue or chocolate brown. A towel bar mounted on a wall above the wainscoting can look great with towels in colors that combine white with shades of the chosen wall color. Bathroom wainscoting usually looks tasteful with either a modern bathtub or an old fashioned claw foot tub. Claw foot bathtubs typically feature metal legs that resemble a bird's claw or foot.
To add bathroom wainscoting to walls successfully, accurate measurements must be taken and the narrow strips of beadboard panels must be evenly cut. The pieces of paneling are then nailed onto the wall side by side, very closely without gaps. The chair railing caps the top edges of the wainscoting and it is sometimes sold as wainscot caps. A baseboard, or bottom edge trim, usually completes the wainscot. Bathroom beadboard wainscoting may be painted or stained.
Raised panel and flat panel are the two other main types of wainscot paneling, but these are rarely used for bathroom wainscoting. Flat panel wainscots are still fairly informal though, as they have smooth surfaces and straight, plain edges. This type of simple wood wall look is used in 19th-century American design styles such as Shaker, with its emphasis on woods and straight lines. Raised panel wainscoting is popular in 17th-century European Colonial looks for formal dining rooms, living rooms, halls and libraries. It's fancy, beveled-edge look is considered too ornate for most bathrooms.