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The Best Materials for DIY Wainscoting That Look Expensive 

DIY Wainscotting on walls behind bed

Wainscoting is a classic architectural feature that looks elegant in any room. Whether you're renovating a historic home or simply looking to enhance the vibe of your space, choosing the right materials for your DIY wainscoting project is a must. The right materials can make your wainscoting look expensive and sophisticated without breaking the bank. In this blog, we'll explore the best materials for achieving a high-end look on a budget. 

1. Solid Wood 

Solid wood is the traditional choice for wainscoting and offers a timeless, luxurious appearance. Woods like oak, mahogany, and walnut are particularly popular for their rich grain patterns and durability, but these will have a much higher price point. If you're planning to paint, then who cares what's underneath? Choose an inexpensive wood like pine and let your cuts and colour do the rest of the work. 

While solid wood can still be more expensive than other materials, it's often worth the investment for its longevity. 


  • Durable and long-lasting 
  • Can be stained or painted to match any decor 
  • Adds real value to your home 


  • Higher cost compared to other materials 
  • Requires more maintenance to keep it looking its best 

2. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) 

MDF is an excellent alternative to solid wood, offering a smooth surface that's easy to paint. It's an engineered material made from wood scraps and is more affordable than solid wood. Plus, it's resistant to warping and cracking, making it a practical choice for DIY enthusiasts. 


  • Cost-effective 
  • Smooth surface for painting 
  • Resistant to warping and cracking 


  • Not as durable as solid wood 
  • Can swell if exposed to moisture 

3. PVC Panels 

PVC Panels 

PVC panels are a modern alternative to traditional wainscoting materials. They are highly durable, water-resistant, lightweight and easy to install. Being waterproof also makes them a great option for bathrooms and kitchens.  

Go for a beadboard-inspired option if you really want your interiors to look luxurious.  


  • Waterproof and ideal for humid areas 
  • Easy to install and maintain 
  • Cost-effective 


  • Can look less authentic than wood 
  • Limited design options 

4. Shiplap 

Shiplap wainscoting has become increasingly popular thanks to its clean, modern look. It consists of horizontal boards with a slight gap between them, creating a stylish, layered effect. Shiplap can be made from wood, MDF, or PVC. 


  • Trendy and modern appearance 
  • Easy to install 
  • Can be painted or stained 


  • Limited to certain design styles 
  • May not look as luxurious as the other options 
  • Requires regular maintenance to prevent gaps from widening 

Work With an Expert to Get the Best Results  

Choosing the right materials for your DIY wainscoting project can elevate the look of your home. Whether you opt for solid wood, MDF, PVC, beadboard, or shiplap, each material has its unique benefits and aesthetic appeal. 

Ready to transform your space with beautiful wainscoting? Contact Team Shane today for professional advice and top-quality installation services. Our team is excited to work with you on your next renovation project.  


Ask Team Shane 

At Team Shane, we have a team of designers that work directly with clients to create beautiful home designs while providing advice and direction on selections (interior design) and up-to-date cost implications which will help you make decisions for the final design. Our build team takes those designs and makes them a reality.
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