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Wainscoting vs Beadboard: Breaking Down the Key Differences 

Wainscoting vs Beadboard

When it comes to adding charming finishes to your walls, wainscoting and beadboard are popular choices. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, it turns out they are not the same thing. Both add texture and visual interest, but they each bring unique characteristics and benefits. Let’s explore the key differences and similarities between these two classic wall treatments. 

What is Wainscoting? 

Wainscoting is a decorative wall accent that typically covers the lower third of a wall, though it may span other areas as well. It originated in the 18th century to protect walls from damage and has since evolved into a stylish design feature.  

Wainscoting panels can be made from various materials, including wood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), and PVC. The panels often feature intricate designs and can be painted or stained to match your interior decor. 

Materials Used: 

  • Wood 
  • MDF 
  • PVC 

Where It’s Typically Found: 

  • Dining rooms 
  • Living rooms 
  • Bedrooms 
  • Hallways 
  • Staircases 

What is Beadboard? 

Beadboard is a type of panelling characterized by narrow, vertical planks separated by a small ridge or “bead.” A bead, or beading, refers to the small, rounded ridge or indentation found on or between planks of wood. 

Beadboard has a cottage-like, casual feel and is often used to create a cozy, traditional look. It can be installed from floor to ceiling or as a partial wall treatment. Common materials include wood and MDF, with PVC being a popular choice for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms. 

Materials Used: 

  • Wood 
  • MDF 
  • PVC 

Where It’s Typically Found: 

  • Kitchens 
  • Bathrooms 
  • Mudrooms 
  • Porches 

Wainscoting vs Beadboard: Key Differences and Similarities 

Here’s a summary of the differences and similarities between these two types of wall decor: 

Feature Wainscoting Beadboard 
Design Often features raised panels Narrow, vertical planks with beading (a decorative woodworking element) 
Installation Area Lower third or entire wall Floor to ceiling or partial walls 
Materials Wood, MDF, PVC Wood, MDF, PVC 
Style Formal, elegant Casual, classical, rustic 
Common Uses Living areas, hallways Bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms 

Which One Should You Choose? 

Choosing between wainscoting and beadboard depends on your personal style and the specific needs of your space. If you’re hoping to sophisticate your interiors and/or protect your walls, wainscoting might be the best choice. For a more relaxed, cozy feel, beadboard is also an excellent option. 

Upgrade Your Home with Expert Contractors 

Ready to upgrade your home with beautiful wall treatments? Whether you choose wainscoting or beadboard, Team Shane can help you achieve the perfect look. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let our experts transform your space. 


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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