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How to Dress up a Dining Room with Custom Wainscoting

Frame-and-oak panel wainscoting dresses up a drab dining room.

More in Windows Walls and Doors

frame and oak panel wainscoting dresses up room

Step 1: Install Vertical Pieces Near Doors and Corners

Begin by installing all of the vertical pieces that go against the door casings and the corners. The boards next to the door are 3-12" wide. To match that in the corners, first install a 4-1/4" board that was ripped down to a 1x6.

Install a 3-1/2" board up next to it. Both boards will have 3-1/2" exposed. Use a finish nailer with 2-1/2" finish nails.

Use a utility knife to cut away any paint build-up on the casings so the boards will fit flush.

The process is the same for the rest of the room -- until all of the other corners and end pieces are up.

install all of vertical pieces

Step 2: Rout and Fit the Baseboards

Measure between the end boards and cut and rout the ends of the 1x6 baseboards. When they are placed on the wall they will fit perfectly with the vertical end boards. Now just nail them in place (Image 1).

With the baseboards up, follow the same process for installing the top rails. Measure and cut the 1x4s to length, and then rout the ends on the router table.

Just like the baseboards, secure the top rails to the wall with 2-1/2" finish nails (Image 2).

Step 3: Measure, Cut and Install the Stiles

Now it's time to measure for the stiles. Each one must be taken separately since they may vary a little -- and they need to be custom fit.

Take several measurements at once, and then cut them to their proper lengths.

With that done, rout the "female" ends on the stiles using the router table. Then go back inside to install them.

Set a stile in place, add one nail and check to make sure it's plumb -- then secure it to the wall. This covers all the seams where the oak paneling meets.

Use the guidelines that were drawn earlier on the wall to line up the stiles in their proper locations. Since the stiles were pre-cut, they should go up easily.

cut stiles to their proper lengths

Step 4: Measure and Install the Chair Rails

Now it's time to install the chair rails. Measure the wall for each one and then cut them to length on the chop saw -- and be sure to give them 45-degree ends (Image 1) for the corners.

Set them on the top rail and secure by using 1-1/2" finish nails. To make it look even nicer, leave about a 1/2" overhang (Image 2).

Work your way around the room and once they're all in, the woodwork is complete.

Fill in all the nail holes with matching wood putty and give everything a good coat of polyurethane.

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