How to Use Picture Frames to Create a Wainscoting Effect

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Wainscoting was originally found in England sometime around the 16th century, with the intention of covering the lower part of the walls to resist water damage. Today it is more commonly found in everyday homes as a way to provide an elegant look to a simple room. The cost of pre-made panels it is not easily affordable. Using picture frames to resemble wainscoting, can be done with a smaller budget.


Step 1

Paint the frames the color that you choose. Typically most wainscotings are white, but you may choose to use another color that better matches the décor of the room.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Measure and mark a line on the wall, three feet from the floor. Repeat this all the way around the room. The more marks you have the easier it will be to create a level line.


Step 3

String a chalk line taut across the marks on the wall. Snap the line to create a straight line on the wall.

Step 4

Repeat Step two with a measurement that would center the picture frames that you are using. For instance if you are using picture frames that are two feet tall by one and a half feet. Then you would want to mark a second line measuring six inches from the floor. This will be the guide you will use for the placement of the picture frames.


Step 5

Measure the length of the first wall. Divide the size of the frame by the length of the wall to figure out how far apart each frame should be. For instance if the wall is 12 feet, three inches long and the frames are two feet wide, then you would divide 146 by 24 for a result of six. Place the frames six inches away from each other and corners.

Step 6

Measure six inches out from the first corner in the room; mark a line. This will be where you will place the first frame.


Step 7

Apply a line of wood glue to the back of the first picture frame. Be sure not to use too much glue so that it doesn't ooze out the sides of the frame when you attach it to the wall. Remember a little goes a long way.

Step 8

Align the frame with the two marks on the wall. Press and hold in place. Nail one nail in each of the four corners, two inches away from the seam.


Step 9

Repeat steps 6 through 8 until you reach the end of the first wall.

Step 10

Repeat Step 5 for each wall. This will ensure that the frames are centered on each wall. Continue with steps 6 through 8 for each of the remaining walls.

Step 11

Apply a little wood putty to cover each of the nails. Wipe with your finger to get a smooth surface. Allow to dry.


Step 12

Paint the wall below the first mark you made with the chalk line. Don't worry about being as neat as possible because this will be covered with a chair rail later. Try not to go over the line more than two or three inches. Apply a second coat to the frames as you are painting the wall. If you are changing the color of the wall or adding wallpaper above the 'wainscoting' you should do this now.


Step 13

Attach a chair rail with the same process you did in step eight and nine. Line the rail with the chalk line. You should place the bottom of the rail approximately one inch below the chalk line, so that it covers the difference in paint colors.

Video of the Day



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...