how much does it cost to paint wainscoting

Wainscoting is generally done to Walls and Staircases. The wainscoting area of a wall in a room is usually the bottom one-third of the total area of the wall.

Normally, wainscoting is done to enhance the look and feel of homes.  The cost of wainscoting goes up if a contractor does it.

If you do wainscoting by yourself, then the cost of wainscoting comes down quite considerably.  

Normally, painting a wainscot costs around $55.00 to $160.00 to paint a wall area including labor charges. It costs less with DIY methods. 

A lot of calculation goes into preparing the exact estimate of the cost of painting.

Simply put, whether you want to paint new wainscoting or existing one, one has to know the estimate.

The cost can vary according to the quality of the paint too. The cost of painting comes down with DIY methods. You can save on labor costs.

If you do DIY painting then the cost is around $10.00 to $25.00. You can also estimate the DIY cost of the project by simple calculations.

Before you proceed further, it is important for you to know about wainscoting.  This will give you a better understanding. 

What Is Wainscoting?

The wooden paneling that lines the lower one-third area of a wall is wainscoting.

These decorated wooden panels are installed on the wall with beveled wooden beading as a runner.  

Generally, the baseboard is laid on the floor. Then fixing of panels is done on the baseboard.  Now, fixing of char rail on the top of the baseboard is done.  Then fixing of beveled wood at regular intervals in a pattern gives the panel an aesthetic look. This is now installed on to the lower part of the wall. This complete process is known as wainscoting.

The designs and patterns of wainscoting are various. From simple patterns to rich aesthetic patterns, these wainscotings give a fine elegance to homes.

The look and feel depends on the type of wood and decorative moulding for char rail used.

Wainscoting styles depend on various factors. For DIY projects, one needs to choose a simple style of wainscoting.  

The DIY Process of Installing Wainscoting

Generally, wainscoting consumes a lot of time. Choosing the right type of design or pattern is very important for DIY projects, especially during waincosting stairs.

Then cutting the wood and preparing trims is quite a task. Then fixing decorative molding on the top of the decorative panel is important. Some DIY wainscotings are simple and easy to install.

Normally, this process is lengthy and time taking. Proper measurement has to be done before cutting the wood panels.

You have to take the exact measurement of the top and bottom panel of the wainscoting area.

These have to be fixed to the wall by keeping a Level on the panel for straightness.

Then after taking the measurement between the lower and top panel, panels have to be cut. These have to fixed to the wall.

Then a decorative moulding is fixed on the top panel. The next step in this process is painting.

The Painting of Wainscoting

Here, the systematic painting process is clearly explained for perfect DIY Painting.  Painting cost of wainscoting may vary due to many factors.

It depends on the quality of the paints and material used. Quality material will give quality paint finish.

Painting the wainscoting is a very important step in home maintenance. If you are installing new wainscoting, painting it is necessary.

If you are re-modeling an existing one, painting is needed. Painting the wainscoting gives a rich elegance.

It will liven up the interiors. Painting the wainscoting will blend your interiors well. Use warm and cool colors for the best effect.

Preparation of Surface

  1. Use fine sandpaper or Scotch-Brite pad for light sanding of the surface
  2. Wipe the wainscoting thoroughly with water or any concentrated cleaner. This removes dust or any other particles from the surface.
  3. Before you start painting, allow the surface to dry completely.
  4. Apply wood putty to wood joints and cracks if any.


Take a 4-inch paintbrush and apply primer. Read the instructions on the paint container.

Give proper time between the first and second coat of primer.  You must give sufficient drying time as per instructions before applying paint.


  1. Allow the primer to dry completely before you start to apply the paint.
  2. Apply two coats of paint
  3. Give sufficient drying time between the coats.

The above process of painting is very simple. You can do the DIY painting on the weekends.

There is a simple calculation to estimate the cost of painting the wainscoting.

First, you have to determine how much area of wainscoting is to be painted. Suppose you have one room to paint, take measurement of the wainscoting area.

Measure the length and then the height of the wainscoting of one wall.

The calculation shown below is only for illustration purposes. Actual costs vary as per the quantity and quality of paint material used.  

The Calculation:

Multiplying length X height gives you total surface Area.  

Suppose, for example, the length is 10 feet; height is 3 feet of wainscoting

Then the area would be 10 multiplied by 3, it equals to 30 square feet/per wall

30 square feet X 3 sidewalls=90 square feet.  Total Area is 90 Square feet.

The cost of wood primer per litre is $18.00 per litre.  One litre of wood primer covers an area of 30 square feet.

For a coat of primer, you need 3 litres of primer. Then the cost is $18.00 X3 =$54.00

Enamel paint $15.00 per litre. It covers an area of 60 square feet per coat of paint. For 90 square feet, you need 1.5 litres, then for two coats of paint, you need 1.5 litres X 2=3 litres.

The cost of paint is 3 litres X $15.00=$45.00

Now add primer cost + Paint Cost, $54.00+$45.00=$99.00

For 90 square feet area, the cost of paint material is $99.00

For 1 Square feet how much material is needed?

That is 1/90X99=$1.10, Hence, the cost of painting is $1.10 per square feet.

This way you can calculate the cost of painting the wainscoting.

Actually, the cost of painting wainscoting varies from $1.10 per square feet to $2.50 per square feet depending on the quality of the paint material used.


Painting of wainscoting is an important aspect of home improvement. It gives a glow to the interiors if properly implemented.

The colors give warmth and the feel of a great ambiance. It livens up the interiors. Fresh and neat interiors give a feeling of comfort.

Periodically, one should undertake painting or repainting the interiors. Fresh colors are mood elevators.

DIY painting of wainscoting is one way of up keeping or upgrading your interiors. Of course, expenditure is involved in this.  Nevertheless, it is worth its weight in gold.

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