How Much Does Wainscoting or Beadboard Cost?

Typical Range:

$1,050 - $1,600

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated August 22, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The average price of wainscotting is $1,325, or about $5.50 per square foot. Expect to pay $1,050 to $1,600 including materials and labor to install 5-foot-high unpainted solid wood wainscoting in a 12-by-12-foot room.

Wainscoting can be as inexpensive as $1 per square foot if made from MDF or plywood, or more than $40 per square foot if using an expensive solid wood. Real wooden beadboard paneling costs $1 per square foot. Imitation types cost $0.50 to $0.75 per square foot.

What Is Wainscoting?

Usually made from wood, wainscoting is decorative paneling that covers the lower part of a wall for insulation, protection, or to add an accent. Wainscoting refers to the overall look of panels that cover the lower portion of a room’s walls. 

A common type of wainscoting, beadboard is wood paneling with vertical grooves cut into it. Beadboard is typically used on ceilings or walls to add depth and character. Beadboard comes in many different styles, but the common theme between them is the vertical “bead” that makes up the majority of the surface area. 

Wainscoting and beadboard can be as expensive as your tastes. Like most home improvement projects, the cost depends on:

  • Choice of materials and finish

  • Your location

  • Size of area

  • Timeframe

  • Design features

  • Installation complexity

Wainscoting Installation Costs per Square Foot

Average cost for wainscoting is $7 to $40 per square foot

The price of wainscoting ranges from $7 to $40 per square foot, depending on the type of panel. Installation costs average $90 per hour or about $5.50 per square foot, including materials and labor. The biggest impact on your budget is the size of the space: for example, a 12-foot-by-12-foot room can easily require more than 15 hours of work.

Cost of Wainscoting per Panel

The average cost of wainscoting is $23.50 per square foot. It is frequently priced by square foot instead of per panel. Price varies between the type of panel.

Type of Panel Description Cost
Flat panel Minimalist design with limited decorative molding $7 – $10 per sq. ft.
Beadboard Boards slotted together to form a decorative panel with vertical beads $7 – $20 per sq. ft.
Board and batten Smooth middle board outlined by thinner boards on all sides $7 – $20 per sq. ft.
Raised panel Features a beveled middle panel that adds a picture frame-like look $10 – $30 per sq. ft.
Overlay Combination of raised and flat panels to create a multi-layered effect $10 – $40 per sq. ft.

Raised Panel Wainscoting

Raised panel is the most traditional wainscoting design. It also can cost as much as twice the cost of flat or beadboard panels. This high price is due to the time-consuming nature of beveling the panel edges, custom-fitting it into the room so that the geometry is symmetrical, and the laborious finish work required to give it a distinctly elevated look.

Average Cost to Install Custom Wainscoting

Average Cost$1,325
High Cost$1,600
Low Cost$1,050

Beadboard Paneling Cost per Square Foot

Beadboard costs $0.50 to $1 per square foot, and a contractor charges $4 to $6 per square foot to install it. It costs $1 per square foot for true wooden beadboard. Imitation versions cost $0.50 to $0.75 per square foot

You will also need caps and baseboards to finish off both types of paneling; these cost $0.30 to $2.50 per foot and are sold in 10-foot sections. From afar, it’s hard to tell the difference, but a closer look at imitation beadboard will reveal imperfections and a lack of density to the material.

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Beadboard Ceiling Cost

A wooden beadboard ceiling costs $5 to $6 per square foot for materials and labor. Shiplap costs are similar, running between $2.50 and $7.00 per square foot. If you’re planning to fit out a porch ceiling, consider using vinyl beadboard as it is more weather-resistant, durable, and requires less maintenance.

Tongue and Groove Ceilings

Installing a tongue and groove ceiling costs $300 to $750. Expect to pay $2 to $3 per square foot using unfinished wood and an extra $1 to $3 per square foot to have it finished by a local professional painter. Formed by single, narrow boards nailed next to each other like hardwood flooring, tongue and groove paneling interlocks together to form a clean and minimalist look. 

Wood Finishes

Wood type, finish, and panel form—like board and batten, shiplap, beaded, exposed wall, flat, raised—all factor into the cost of wainscoting. Here’s what you can expect to pay for each type.

  • MDF or plywood: $1–$5 per sq. ft.

  • Raised panel in unfinished oak, maple, or cherry: $23–$33 per sq. ft. 

  • Raised panel in stained oak, maple, or cherry: $30–$40 per sq. ft.

  • Other wood panels in unfinished oak, maple, or cherry: $12–$13.50 per sq. ft. 

  • Other wood panels in stained oak, maple, or cherry: $19.50–$21 per sq. ft.

Labor Costs to Install Wainscoting or Beadboard

Installation with a contractor is $2 to $4 per square foot for labor time only. If you include the cost of the panels and materials the cost increases to $4 to $6 per square foot. The price depends on the size of the room and panel style. Wainscoting is suitable for all home interiors and is particularly attractive in public areas, such as the dining room, living room, hallways, and corridors.

A contractor installing a beadboard charges $4 to $6 per square foot, or roughly $90 per hour based on a 12-foot-by-12-foot room with 3- to 5-foot-high paneling. Labor accounts for half of the total project price so a DIY can save you up to 50% on this project. 

Wainscoting and Beadboard Cost Factors

There’s more to consider when calculating your final cost estimate.

Chair Rail

The cost to install trim, like a chair rail, averages $4.50 to $6 per linear foot, which includes the materials and paint. 

Originally intended for protecting walls against damage when the servants drew back the chairs after supper, the use of chair rails in modern homes is often now purely for visual appeal. Install your rail approximately 1/3 above the floor to ensure it doesn’t throw off the scale and proportions of the room.


Paint costs between $25 and $50 per gallon or $0.80 to $1.80 per square foot, plus an additional $2 to $6 per square foot of paintable area or between $20 to $50 an hour. The cost to paint a room depends on the number of colors and coats you use, where you live, and the size of the surface area. More ornate trims and frames will require more preparation work than minimalist designs. Be sure to calculate the amount of paint beforehand to save money.


If you’re contemplating applying a natural wood finish or stain to the wainscoting, you’ll want to look at using nicer hardwoods like maple, oak, or cherry because they have beautiful grains that shine in situations like this. If you’re painting the wainscoting, you’ll only need to use paint-grade wood, which is dramatically more affordable than stain-grade because you’ll be covering up all the knots and grain with a couple layers of paint.

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DIY Installation vs. Hiring a Pro

We recommend hiring a local wainscoting installation contractor if you are not experienced with installing wainscoting or beadboard. Highly experienced homeowners with the necessary time to complete the project can install their own and achieve a professional and stylish look. 

The benefits of hiring a vetted professional include:

  • Expert carpentry skills.

  • Guaranteed quality work. 

  • Timely installation. 


What are the differences between wainscoting and beadboard?

Beadboard is a type of wainscoting, which is a decorative element used on both walls and ceilings. The most common wainscoting, beadboard is characterized by long, vertical panels and raised “beads,” which are simply small indentations or ridges between the planks.

Wainscoting and beadboard are remarkably versatile, allowing you to add character to indoor and outdoor spaces. Beadboard locks together with a tongue and groove joint compared to shiplap, another kind of wainscoting that uses a square-shaped rabbet joint. 

How much do vinyl beadboard soffits cost?

Vinyl soffit costs $1.30 to $2 per linear foot and installation costs $1 to $2 per linear foot, including the labor time, caulking, corrosion-resistant fasteners, and sealants. It is ideally suited to the outdoors or the damp environment of a bathroom because vinyl is more damage resistant, low maintenance and easy to clean.

How much is it to add floor trim?

Material costs for floor trim are $1 to $2 per linear foot for labor and $3.50 to $8.50 per linear foot for supplies. Also referred to as baseboard molding, floor trims serve to protect your paneled wainscoting from bangs and scrapes and to create a natural connection between the wall and floor.

What’s the cost of wood paneling vs. drywall?

Drywall costs $1.60 to $2.35 per square foot and wood paneling is $1 to $40 per square foot, depending on the type of material used. On certain projects, wood paneling and drywall complement each other.

What is the proper height for wainscoting?

The rule of thirds applies when installing wainscoting. You’ll want the cap of your wainscoting to rest at about one-third of the height of the room. So for a standard room with nine-foot ceilings, your wainscot will top out at three feet.

Does wainscoting make a room look bigger or smaller?

Wainscoting can make a room look smaller if the room has low ceilings. The same rule applies with wainscoting as it does with painting any space: In order to make the room look larger and more open, paint it a light color like white or cream. Since beadboard incorporates vertical lines in the paneling, this style of wainscoting is ideal for those wanting to make a room appear larger than it is.

When should you not use wainscoting?

While wainscoting can technically be used in any room, you’ll typically want to reserve it for a more open space like a foyer where you’re wanting to make a dynamic first impression or a bathroom that has tall ceilings. Avoid using wainscoting in small spaces with low ceilings. Open concepts like a living room and kitchen combination also don’t work well with wainscoting because there usually isn’t a clean break point along the walls.

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