Help--wainscoting on stairs?

jesemyMay 4, 2008

I installed faux wainscoting in my dining room using picture frame moulding below the chair rail some time ago and it came out great. Now I'm considering doing the same for the stairs but I'm having trouble figuring out just high high the top rail (same as chair rail) should be. Should it be 36" from the edge of each step if measuring vertically or more? The railing on the open side of the stairs is about 35" tail from the front edge of each step. I've looked at pictures and have seen wainscoting at the same height and some cases even higher. I've got a "how-to" book of moulding from Lowe's that explains everything "once" you've determined the height of the top rail.

Does anyone have this wall treatment? High high is the top edge from the front of each step is yours?

Thanks in advance,


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I'd go 36" to 39". In my old house, the chair rail going up the stairs was 36". I always thought it was too low. The wainscoting in my current dining room is 39" and I like it so much better.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 3:45PM
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Our wainscotting is 39" from top of stair to top of rail.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 4:43PM
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I love wainscoting, and what everyone has done looks fabulous! The thing i'm wondering~if you have textured walls, and want the chair railing with the panel look, did you use a thin layer of plywood to make the lower section of wall somooth, and then add the picture frame moulding? NEWHOMEBUILDER, is this what you did on your stairway, or leave it textured? Or were you lucky enough to have all smooth walls?

I thought this was what TEXASHOTTIE was doing when she had her's installed. Does anyone know if she ever showed the completed pictures of her BLACK dining room? Maybe she'll see this? ;o)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 12:06AM
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No, I don't have textured walls. All smooth Sheetrock.

I would add a thin luan sheet to your walls before adding the moulding.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:45AM
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judiegal - I meant to tell you that I love your staircase. They remind me of stairs from my grandparents house.

Look for a new thread about those stairs... called NOSTALGIA.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:35PM
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NHB, THAT'S' what *texashottie* used, not plywood. Thanks a bunch.

I sure wish I had smooth walls. ;o( Do you mind if I ask how much it added to your build, or the amount per sq ft.?

Your grandparents stairway is gorgeous. I can only imagine what the rest of the home must have looked like. You were a lucky little girl. ;o)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:02PM
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What are your walls made of?

There is no additional cost for smooth walls down in the south. Sheetrock is a standard building material. Older homes (like in my grandparents home), the walls were made of plaster.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Jesemy- can you post some pics of the faux waincotting you did in your dining room please? Thanks

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 10:23PM
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I want to install wainscoting in my children's rooms. I've gone to the local hardware stores (Lowe's, Home Depot) and they can't help. Do I use 1/4" plywood and paint it in a semi-gloss or is there something different and better to use? The sheets come in 4'X8'. Do I cut the sheets down to a different height or is 4' okay?
I need help desperately. I have a child on the way in August and I want to finish the rooms before she arrives.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:56PM
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If you want very basic wainscotting. My husband put some in our powder room. He got a sheet of MDF and cut it in strips. Put it on like in the photo, above the baseboard and then top off the panels with chair rail.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 10:10PM
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Does anyone have any tips on how to do the math/figure out the size and spacing for the rectangles for the style Newhomebuilder used, please? Are there any visual rules to follow in proportion? How tall is yours and do you like the height (with regular height walls, 8').

Did you paint your wainscoting stark white? Or some tone of white? Satin finish? Semigloss?

Lyban, if you're still here, I love what your DH did. Did he rout fancy edges on it? Or did it look just fine without them?

Anyone else have pictures to share, or experiences to share?

I did install wainscot panelling in my last house. The hard part for me was measuring and cutting for the electrical outlets. But with the kind NHB did, that's not a problem.

Oh, one more question. Why can't we just lightly sand the texture off our textured walls? That's easier (and cheaper) than putting up board.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:08PM
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