Raised Panel Wainscoting: Tradition, Craftsmanship, and Beauty Rolled into One

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 20, 2016

Raised panel wainscoting

Raised panel wainscoting is beautifully crafted wainscot built from raised central panels surrounded by finely crafted trim. Purists hold out that raised panel is one of those rare home improvement projects that should always be left to custom carpenters to build. While they may be right, there are a number of pre-manufactured raised panel wainscoting packages available for purchase if you don’t have the means to hire a custom finish carpenter to do the job.

Wainscot 101

As a general term, wainscoting refers to the practice of lining the lower third to half of a wall with decorative wood paneling. It adds an air of class and tradition to any room, and it provides texture and contrast to living areas that would otherwise be uniform and plain. Depending on the quality of the wood and the home design, wainscot can either be finished or painted.

Raised panel style wainscoting is generally accepted to be the oldest, and finest, style of wainscot on the market. It first surfaced in the 17th century, and is most commonly used in formal areas such as libraries, dens, foyers, dining rooms, and living rooms.

What Makes Raised Panel Wainscot so Special?

Raised panel woodwork is such a popular addition to homes for a few reasons. First of all, it is steeped in tradition. For going on four hundred years now, raised panel wainscoting has been regarded as the best of the best. It has been a symbol of status, of wealth, and of excellent taste. The reason it rose to such prominence is the other explanation for its popularity. To put it simply, no other paneling comes close to it in looks. Beadboard has a decidedly informal appearance, while flat panel and craftsman style panels were introduced with modesty in mind. Raised panel wainscoting, however, is carefully built to accentuate the shadows, lines and ridges that are part and parcel to the style. It’s meant to look good and to be noticed, no matter where you choose to have it installed.

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Custom vs. Kit

There’s no need to beat around the bush here. If you can afford to hire a custom finish carpenter to do your raised panel wainscoting, do it. There isn’t any wainscot in the world that can compare to that built with the craftsmanship, care, and creativity of a custom builder. If the cost is a little over your head, however, don’t give up the dream. A number of companies now sell pre-manufactured raised panel kits available in a variety of different grades. If your heart is set on it, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be able to find a raised panel system that is within your reach. These kit versions are often fairly easy to install, though you don’t want to sacrifice quality installation if you can help it. Just because you couldn’t afford custom built raised panels, doesn’t mean you can’t fool a lot of people if you put up your raised panel wainscoting correctly. For this reason alone, many homeowners still choose to hire a contractor to do the meticulous work of installation.

To add an air of tradition, beauty, and craftsmanship to any living area, you simply can’t beat the top-notch looks of raised panel wainscoting.

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