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REDECORATING : As Make-Over, Wainscoting Isn't Half Bad

August 27, 1994|From Associated Press

If you want to make over the appearance of a room without spending a lot of time and money, consider wainscoting.

By covering the bottom half of the walls with wood or paneling, you can disguise serious damage or wall defects and have a treatment that complements many decorating schemes because it takes on a natural finish.

Wainscoting applies to many different wall treatments:

* Flat-panel wainscoting, which consists of a series of flat panels surrounded with rails and stiles much like cabinet doors.

* Raised-panel wainscoting, considered a more elegant version of the treatment, and

* Double V-joint and bead wainscoting, most prevalent in older houses.

The latter is still available in open stock at many lumber yards, usually in pine or fir and in different grades. If you plan to paint wainscoting, you can save money by using a less expensive grade.

Installation starts by deciding the height of the chair rail--36 inches is fairly standard. The chair rail is the decorative top trim to the wainscoting, and the baseboard finishes the bottom at floor level.

You will need horizontal nailing for the boards at least every 24 inches. This is required when narrow boards are applied vertically to bridge the gaps between the vertical studs behind the present wall surfaces.

These studs are usually on 16-inch centers, and the horizontal furring strips should be nailed through these studs or inlet into the wall to bear on them directly. They form the solid and straight supports for the wainscoting.

When the wall is ready, the next step is to cut all the wainscoting boards to length. Start installing your wainscoting alongside a door casing or in the corner of the room. Use a level to plumb the first board.

Because each wainscoting board has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other, all the following boards can be nailed to the furring strips through the tongue.

Tap each board firmly into the groove of the one already up before nailing it. This way the nails will be covered by the next board and won't show. Work carefully to avoid splitting the tongue, and angle the nails about 45 degrees so they won't block the groove of the next board.

Right-handed people find it easiest to work from left to right.

When you come to an electrical outlet, turn off the power, remove the cover plate and pull the receptacle out of the box, taking care not to damage the insulation. Don't remove the wires. Cut the board or boards to match the edge of the box and screw the receptacle into the opening when the boards are nailed up.

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