How to Install Picture Frame Moulding Wainscoting
How to Install Inexpensive wainscoting using picture frame moulding with these wainscoting ideas to glam up any space. Determine wainscoting height and width with these simple guidelines.
Thinking about freshening up a boring mundane space. Consider this inexpensive wainscoting solution. What is wainscoting you ask? Well it’s wooden paneling that lines the lower part of the walls of a room like in the dining room, bathroom, hallway or along a staircase. It’s a super easy way to add depth and character to a space.
However, it can easily run a person anywhere from $1,200 to $3,900 to purchase the materials and have it installed. BUT I’m going to show you how to achieve this look for under $200 in this unique wainscoting style.
Items Needed to complete the look.
- Trim – Moulding, picked to taste. The amount needed will depend on the size of the space or room. In my case my dining room already had a chair rail installed.
- DAP alex flex premium molding & trim sealant
- Dap StrongStik Instant Grab Adhesive
- Plastic Wood-X Stainable Wood Filler
- DAP Rapid Fuse Fast Curing Wood Adhesive
- 2″ Brad nails
- Scrap pieces of wood (1×3 and 1×4)
- Sand paper
- Brad Nailer
- Stud Finder
- Carpenter’s square
- Miter Saw or Miter box
- Caulk gun
- Hyde Caulk-Away and Caulk Rite Combo Pack
- Japanese Double Edge Razor Saw (Optional)
Prime and paint the walls.
- I’m using BEHR Premium Plus Legendary Gray matte finish for the top and Ultra Pure White Semi-Gloss Zero VOC Interior Paint at the bottom of the wall. Prime the trim as well or purchase trim that is already primed.
Attach the upper trim.
- For my wainscoting style I am adding an additional decorative trim above my picture frame moulding. Prior to marking out the wall I first marked the spot for this piece of moulding using a 1×3 scrap piece of wood. The actual thickness of a 1×3 board is 2.5″. So 2.5″ below the chair rail is where this trim will sit. Using the 1×3 to trace out the line is an easy and more practical solution to tracing a “straight” line for the piece of moulding. Also it ensures that it is exactly parallel to the chair rail. I then attached the trim with adhesive and a brad nailer.
Next I mapped out the positions for the picture frames.
- Marking the placements on the wall will help determine size of frames. I am making my frames. However, you can purchase pre-made frames from your local hardware store. The keys to determining the of the frames is select a consistent spacing. I am spacing my frames out 3.5″. Typically picture frame moulding frames are spaced out 3″ to 4″. Using a scrap piece of 1×4 I traced out the spacings and placement for the frames. While the height [H] of each frame will be the same for each wall, the width will differ depending on the length of the wall and the number of picture frames you intend on using. First I traced along the two sides and the bottom using the 1×4. Within the two outer spacing “A” is the width I have to work with in determining the width of the frames. Take the distance of A – subtract the spacing (width) between each frame (For example, with two frames I will have 1 spacing of 3.5in. If I have 3 frames I will have 2 – 3.5in spacings between the frames.). Then divide this number by the total number of frames you with to have. This will be the width of each frame. To create an example: A = 60in. I want to place 2 frames here. Which means I will have 1 3.5 in. of space between the frames. So 60-3.5=56.5in. Then I divide 56.5 by the number of frames. So 56.5/2=28.25in. So each frame for this wall will be 28.25in W x 25 H. And remember the height is fixed.
Finally mark the stud locations.
Make the frames.
- You can totally do all the cuts for this with a basic miter box. I do recommend a Japanese Double Edge Razor Saw if you are going that route. Its super sharp and quick.
- I created a jig to make my frames to ensure I had uniform corners using scrap wood and a carpenter’s square.
- Cut the trim to size.
- You can use wood glue and 1″ brad nails or staples to put the frames together.
- Allow time for the frames to dry.
Attach frames to wall lining with adhesive then nailing with 2” brad nails into the studs where possible.
This is the spacing of the frames and upper trim moulding.
7. Apply wood filler, allow it to dry then sand it.
8.Apply caulking in the gaps between the frame and the wall and allow time to dry.
- Once it’s dry you are now ready to paint with a semi-gloss paint. Now enjoy the labors of your work because you just saved thousands by doing this yourself.
Stay tuned as I transform my dining room. ~T.
See how I created a window seat with storage in my dining room.
Timisha, what a great project and tutorial! I have wanted to do something like this in our hallway and this looks like the perfect project. Your wall looks fantastic!
Awww Thank you so much Karla! I really appreciate your saying that. And i’m so glad you found the tutorial helpful/inspirational.
Great write up… Question – within on space (e.g., hallway), do all the frames need to be the same width? If you are keeping the same spacing between and from the end wall or doorway, how would you handle walls of different lengths?
I Love This Idea,& The Money Saved By DIY!! Your Walls Are Beautiful!! Thank-You For Explaining This Project in Detail,& Taking The Time To Share!!
Thank you so much! So glad you found it helpful and easy to follow.
Wonderful tutorial. I am going to try this in a guest bedroom. Thanks for doing the hard part of figuring this all out. LOL
Hahaha Thank you! Good luck please share photos when your done.
My husband would be so impressed. You did a fantastic job. We will be doing this in our new home. Thanks for the tutorial.
Thank you Debbie! Good luck I know it’s going to look wonderful! 🙂
Looks Great! What did you make the height and width of the picture frames themselves?
Thank you, Michael! The width varied by wall depending on the total length of the wall. But the height remained constant. The height was 19 1/12″. For this particular wall where I used three frames the width was 20.”
Wow, you did an amazing job. I would love to try this instead of getting someone to do it. I’m nervous about getting them evenly spaced. Yours looks 100% professional quality! I really appreciate your tutorial.
Thank you so much Christine. I know you can do it. Just measure it out a few times. You’ll get it.
Nice instructions. I do have a quick question. I am putting this type of wainscoting down a hallway, one side measuring 85 inches but the other side measuring 74 inches, both sides running into a door. Is it ok that the panels on one side of the hallway is almost 4 inches larger than the panels on the other side, but both sides have 3 panels? Would you do a hallway differently?Thanks for your thoughts!
Thank you so much! I would try to make the two sides of the hallway as symmetrical as possible. 4 inches isn’t a huge difference but there should be a way to match up the panels but resizing so that the frames are the same.
I am NOT a math person and I wanted to make sure I understand your calculation. You wrote ” A – [(1-#of frames)B” so let’s say my wall is 60″. That’s A. I want 3 frames. You’ve got that in parentheses, so I think I do that first… 1-3= (-2). Is B the spacer, or 3.5″? So I multiply (-2) x 3.5? That’s (-7).
OK. Plugging that in. 60″ – (-7) = 53″
Or is it 67″?
If it’s 53″ I use the next formula : 53 divided by the 3 frames I want = 17.67″ per frame? But if it’s 67″, I divide 67 by 3 and get 22.33″
Hi Patty, Thank you for the question. I went back and read it and what I wrote sounds confusing. I made some changes. Within the two outer spacing “A” is the width I have to work with in determining the width of the frames. Take the distance of A – subtract the spacing (width) between each frame (For example, with two frames I will have 1 spacing of 3.5in. If I have 3 frames I will have 2 – 3.5in spacings between the frames.). Then divide this number by the total number of frames you with to have. This will be the width of each frame. To create an example: A = 60in. I want to place 2 frames here. Which means I will have 1 3.5 in. of space between the frames. So 60-3.5=56.5in. Then I divide 56.5 by the number of frames. So 56.5/2=28.25in. So each frame for this wall will be 28.25in W x 25 H. And remember the height is fixed.
I hope that makes better sense. Please keep me posted.
Hello, can you share the brand of brad nailer and miter saw you used? I’m trying to find a good economical one without the air compressor. Thank you.
Sure I used the Ryobi 18 ga Airstrike. Its cost effective because it saves time and you don’t have to carry around a large compressor. https://homedepot.sjv.io/c/1246871/456723/8154?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.homedepot.com%2Fp%2FRyobi-18-Volt-ONE-Cordless-AirStrike-18-Gauge-Brad-Nailer-Tool-Only-with-500-nails-P320%2F203810823
What is the height of your chair rail? I love the extra piece of trim you did but I’m not sure if my chair rail is high enough for it to look right. I don’t want it to in turn make my molding look really small. Thank you!
Hi the chair rail is about 3 feet from the floor.
If I send you measurements of my walls will you help me with the math?
Sure I can do that. You can email me at [email protected] or on Facebook @ facebook.com/toolboxdivas
What are the dimensions (how wide) is the trim in between the frames and chair rail? Also, how wide is the picture frame moulding you used? Is is called anything besides Picture Frame Moulding – I can’t seem to find it under than name at my local Menard’s. Thanks!
Great tutorial. Very clear explanations. Also great video on Youtube.
One question: what type of moulding did you purchase for the “picture frame”? Do you remember the brand or what store? Is that screen moulding? I cannot seem to find something similar.
Thank you so much! I actually don’t recall at this time the name of the moulding I used. It wasn’t actually picture frame moulding. I just used the same concept of creating a picture frame to create each moulding.
I forgot the last part of my question. Is that really picture frame moulding? Because picture frame moulding has a small gap on the flat edge and this moulding doesn’t seem to have that.
No it was just moulding I put togther to create a frame.
It looks so good! Thank you for posting this tutorial. I will definitely add this idea to our ‘Future Home Ideas’ folder. Thanks for the inspiration. Contact Wilson Moulding for wholesale Picture frame mouldings.
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you found it helpful
When you did the final painting did you brush it or use a roller?
Thank you so much for posting! I am gonna do this chair rail and picture frame for my extended foyer in our new house this fall! Your projects are awesome!!😊
Thank you so much! Best of luck with your project. You got this 👊
Thank you so much for your video and tutorial! I am attempting to plan this in my lr/dr (now office space). Question: I have a very unfortunately placed outlet near a window in one section, so to go around it the molding would either be way too close in spacing on one side or too far on the other. Any reasonable spacing (3-4+ inches) would place the frame right through the outlet. So in that situation, would you just cut a gap in the picture frame above and below?
Thank you so much! I incorporated the outlet into the molding by cutting out an area of the trim to fit the outlet cover.
I think you have the best wainscoting tutorial. It’s simple and straightforward.
I’m wondering: How long has it been up? Any problems down the road. Does it stand up over time? Please let me know.
Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your saying that. Yes, it’s held up. It’s stick stuck to the wall hahaha. It could use a little dusting lol but overall it still looks great.
Hi, I was wondering if quarter round base molding would also work for this, or if the wood for the molding would need to be flat all around.
What is the size of one picture frame (the individual frame width?). Something around 1″ but what exactly? I noticed thinner ones dont look that good. Please let me know
Hi – I love this tutorial and I feel empowered to take on this project!
Was the picture frame part 1in wide? Also – it’s ok that each wall has different sized boxes??? It looks like that how people have it and I understand your formula of subtracting the empty space and divide by number of boxes – sounds good to me! My smallest wall can fit at 20in box with 3.5 in on each side. But longer walls can have bigger boxes, right?!? What is a standard/common/popular width?
Hi Katie there are no concrete rules. You kind of just want to ensure there is symmetry.
First, My Sister, let me give you your props for being so gifted and talented in this design and, equally, for your willingness to share your secrets. This wainscoting design is EXACTLY what I have planned for my house. I am doing the dining room and the hallways.
I have three questions for you: (1) what is the thin trim that you placed between the chair rail and the wainscoting boxes? (2) Where did you purchase it – Home Depot, Lowes, Menards? (3) Where did you purchase the picture framing trim boards? Did you get moulding strips from a picture framing retailer? I was in Menards today and did not see any trim like it? Plan on going to Lowes this evening to look for options. Be Blessed!!
I absolutely love this!!!! I know trim is to personal style but I love the trim you picked. Could you share the type/ size with us for all the molding/ chair rail etc?
Thank you so much. I honestly didn’t do the best job documenting things early on. So I do not know the exact name.
What a fantastic tutorial, with pictures and video!!! It was so helpful and you did a beautiful job! So many are asking about the molding that I thought I’d share a link to a good reasonably priced one that I’ve used and am getting ready to use again in my girl’s room. I hope it helps!!!