Wainscoting Made From Drywall Panels Looks Just Like Wood, by James Dulley

Dear James, we think that paneling would look great in our dining room. We have extra drywall here from a previous project. Can this be used for the paneling instead of wood? – Julie R.

Dear Julie, Wainscoting is also becoming increasingly popular in newly built homes. The decorative walls are attractive, and just one wall can change the decor of the entire dining room. If you are a skilled woodworker, using real wood for the siding is your best option and it can be done in its natural color.

For the typical handyman, it’s easier to use drywall to do the paneling. Using drywall is much cheaper than real wood, even if you have to buy it new. When it comes to paneling, a lot of small pieces are most often used to form the wall patterns. Hence, your old extra scrap drywall pieces are perfect for this project.

In fact, using drywall instead of wood for the cladding has some advantages. In addition to lower material and labor costs, drywall doesn’t expand as much and contracts with changes in moisture levels as some woods. This means that there are no small gaps in the joints, as can sometimes be the case with wood paneling. Also, nicks in the drywall are very easy to repair.

The basic assembly concept for drywall cladding is to attach long top and bottom horizontal rails to the wall. Vertical stiles are cut to any desired width and spacing and placed between the rails to create the appearance of the paneling. The drywall edges are provided with vinyl edging or chain rail. If you know how to tape drywall joints, it should be easy to do.

The first step is to apply the paneling pattern to the wall. When determining the spacing for the vertical spar pieces, pay attention to the position of the sockets on the wall. You don’t want one to end up under a vertical style. The typical height for the top rail is 32 inches above the floor. There is no typical dimension for the horizontal distance. So just choose a distance that is easy on the eye.

The fairing bottom rail is typically about an inch wider than the top rail. This creates a more traditional appearance for the siding and allows space for a tall, decorative baseboard. If you plan to place an outlet at floor level, lay it on its side so that it is completely surrounded by the bottom rail.

Use a laser plane and snap a seal line level with the top of the top rail around the perimeter of the room. Unless the floor is extremely uneven, the height of this line should be about the same as the floor. The floor board just lies on the floor. If there are large or small gaps, the baseboard will cover them.

The drywall is not heavy, so fixing it to the wall with glue will provide sufficient strength. Once all of the pieces are connected to the wall, as with any joint, finish the joints with tape and mud. The inside edges of the parts should be covered with a vinyl bevel stop. The top of the upper rail can be provided with decorative vinyl beads or real wood chair rails.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To learn more about James Dulley and read about the features of other creators and cartoonists at Creators Syndicate, visit Creators Syndicate’s website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: picjumbo_com at Pixabay

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