How to install wainscot ? Technique and method

If paint remains the most popular wall covering for its ease of application, its multiple shades and its installation without technical equipment, paneling is another solution that is increasingly being used in our interiors. In wood or PVC, the paneling is warm and gives the walls a unique texture. Also, it is not as difficult to pose as it seems, you just need to know the right gestures. Here are our tips for successfully installing your paneling.

Wood paneling or PVC paneling: which to choose?

The paneling comes in the form of blades that can have several colors and shades. If it is mainly placed on the walls, it can completely cover the ceilings using the same installation technique. It is a practical coating which allows you to bring relief and cachet to your interior, but also to isolate the wall even better or to hide its imperfections.

If the traditional paneling is made of wood, we now find PVC paneling which imitates very well the different species as well as other shades.

Authentic wood paneling

Wood paneling had its first successes during the 1980s and is making a comeback after going out of fashion. Very aesthetic and naturally warm, it comes in multiple essences, shades, colors and types since it can be raw, painted, bleached, brushed, with or without knots, etc.

PVC paneling, a guarantee of modernity

PVC paneling is more recent and has imposed itself against wood for its much lower cost. Easy to install, it can imitate different types of wood, but also other materials such as slate, concrete or marble. It is resistant to humidity, unlike wood paneling and does not move in the event of high temperatures.

What is the technique for laying the wall paneling?

The technique for laying the paneling is relatively simple, but before you get started, you must first decide which way you want to install it. Indeed, the installation of the paneling can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

  • Horizontal laying visually expands the space.
  • The vertical pose gives height.
  • Diagonal laying is more original, but also more complex.

How to install the paneling? Wood structure or collage?

The paneling can be placed on a wooden structure fixed to the wall or directly glued to the wall.

  • Laying on a frame requires the prior installation of wooden cleats on which the paneling is placed. It allows the wall to breathe and limits the risk of humidity and mould.
  • Laying by gluing on the wall is faster, but is better suited to PVC which does not need to breathe, unlike wood paneling. On the other hand, the wall must be healthy and clean to avoid the occurrence of mold.

How to plan your cuts?

When you have decided on the direction of your paneling, all you have to do is choose the type of cutout you want.

  • Lost cut laying is a practical and inexpensive solution since the boards are arranged one after the other without any waste, since the latter is immediately reused for the next row. The joints are not aligned, the losses are less and the rendering is natural.
  • The staggered installation is based on aesthetics and regularity. Each row is carefully staggered from the previous one according to a precise measurement in order to have regular joints. This pose is more beautiful, but longer and more expensive since there are more scraps.

How to install paneling? The technique, step by step

We present here the installation on a wooden frame, which remains the most recommended method, regardless of the type of wall paneling purchased.

Preparing the wall

Start by cutting off the electricity supply and removing the sockets and switches. We recommend securing them with dominoes.

Make sure your wall is healthy and clean. It must not contain any trace of humidity or mould. Ideally, take the time to seal any cracks.

Laying the cleats

When you have chosen your laying direction, you will need to lay your cleat frame on the wall in the opposite direction, i.e. perpendicular to your boards. The cleats must therefore be vertical for a horizontal paneling, horizontal for a vertical installation and diagonally opposite for a diagonal installation.

With a pencil, trace the location of your cleats on the wall, starting from the bottom or on one side, and space the strips of cleats 50 cm apart. Cut your cleats so that they are no longer than 1.50 meters and leave 3 to 4 cm of space between two cleats to allow air to circulate along the wall. Attach the cleats to the wall using your drawings.

Installation of the paneling

Lay your first plank starting from the bottom or from one side, while leaving an expansion space of 3 to 4 mm against the wall. Attach the first plank with a man’s head point then assemble the following ones by clipping or stapling. Once you have reached the end of the first row, cut the board with a jigsaw to the correct size (minus the 3 to 4 mm expansion space) and fix it with a man’s head point.

Start on the next line with the scrap or by cutting your first plank to the desired size depending on the type of installation chosen.

Cut out the spaces dedicated to sockets and switches with a hole saw, taking care to check your measurements.


Once the paneling is in place, you will need to proceed with the finishing touches.

  • Nail or glue a skirting board to the floor or a floor profile.
  • Nail or glue a cornice to the ceiling or a flat-edged baguette.
  • Nail or glue angle irons to outgoing angles and quarter-rounds to inward angles.
  • Nail or glue profiles to door and window frames.

Finally, properly reinstall your switches and outlets. You just have to admire your work!

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