Raised Panel Wainscoting Options

Posted by John on March 26th, 2012

In this post, we’re going to look at raised panel wainscoting options, but first Happy Monday everybody!  Yesterday was Lisa’s birthday and even though she’s the crafty one, I did manage to pull something out of my hat.  Remember this birthday pennant banner we had from our daughter’s first birthday?  Yeah, well.  It’s still hanging in our morning room.IMG_3073-1024x682


It also had our daughter’s name hanging below it (which we didn’t show).  Now, I wanted to replace her name with Lisa’s but, I was missing another “i.”  I used a little “guy” ingenuity and presto…IMG_3454-1024x682


I totally McGuyver’d this banner, but I can tell you that Lisa was happy to see it and we both had a good laugh.

While we’re waiting for some cabinet hardware to arrive for our cabinet drawers, we’ve been starting to give some more thought to our dining room plans.  I think we’re planning on starting soon, but we need to make some decisions first.  Here’s the big question at the moment…

Configuration:  Are we going with a cope and stick, an applied bolection molding or a simple groove approach?  While we don’t HAVE to pick a configuration before we start buying material, it would make me a lot less nervous about starting.

A cope and stick is a router bit joint that the raised panel sits in.  Wendy and Alex from Old Town Home used this approach on their stairway.  It’s that little curved edge around the panel.  The pros:  It’s a fairly low cost option and it’s a very classic look.  Cons: I’d have to buy a cope and stick router bit.  The construction is a little more exacting with less room for error.

The simple groove option is also a pretty classic look.  In this option, we lose the curved coped look, but add a bead on the top and bottom pieces.  Pros:  I already own a beading bit.  Cons: I think the vertical pieces are a smaller thickness than the rest of the boards, which means I’ll have to plane them down.  That’s a little more work.panel_sam


The bolection molding option is an applied molding that spans the gap between the raised panel and the rails and stiles.  With this option, the center raised panel wouldn’t have to be attached to the rails or the stiles at all.  It gets nailed right to the wall.  It looks like it adds complexity and depth, but it actually simplifies the process quite a bit.  I’ve added a photo of the bolection molding look on a set of front doors since I can’t readily find one for a wainscoting application.  Pros:  It’s a lot easier overall and it provides some more visual interest.  Cons:  The molding may be expensive.  Very expensive.gcj027


So, let me know what you think.  Which one would you pick??  We’re all ears. 

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,

  • I like the first two! They both look great to me so I’d pick the one that’s easier/cheaper to do 🙂

  • Thanks for the shout out on that. I saw your tweet and came over to weigh in and saw our link.

    If I were doing it again I’d do bolection moulding…I think. I like how solid ours is, but it was rough to get it right. I would probably try to cut my own molding to keep costs down a bit and also end up with a bit more simple of a profile.

    I think I just prefer that method now that I’ve tried both.

    • Oh, and one other thing I forgot to mention. I wouldn’t nail the panel to the wall, I’d fear expansion/contraction could cause issues and prefer the panels to be floating. Instead, I’d cut a rabbet in the back of all of the rails and stiles and would let the panel sit and move freely, then nail the molding in a way that the nails don’t go into the panels. Just my $0.02 if I were doing my project over. The major disadvantage to that approach would be the additional time in cutting the molding, and also the fact that it profile of molding probably wouldn’t be quite as small and similar to our doors that I was trying to mimic.

      • I was probably going to use MDF for the center panels, so I don’t think I need to worry too much about shrinking and swelling. If you google “raised panel wainscoting bolection” you can see a pdf that basically details the procedure start to finish. I didn’t want to mention it in the post because it’s probably not supposed to be viewable.

        • The MDF panels have worked well for us, that’s the way to go. You’re right, no growage/shrinkage there. Once I learned how to keep the fuzz down on the routed areas I’ve been quite happy with the results. Can’t wait to watch your project. Ah, memories.

          • John_OHFScratch

            I\’m going to have to re-read your posts on this before I get cracking.

    • The bolection def seems easier.

  • I love the berthday banner! Fan-effin-tastic! Happy berthday Lisa! As for the other issue at hand, I like the first and last. I say go for the first. If you have to buy the bit, you’ll have another really cool piece of equipment.

  • Awwww, husband of the year! And happy birthday to Lisa!

    • Lisa

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  • Kristen

    I like the one from Old Town Home. The bottom of it makes the whole thing look fancy and finished. Yet, I don't thin you could really go wrong with any option!

    • John_OHFScratch

      They did do a great job with that. Looks very sleek and professional.

  • I like the first one best, but it would give me total panic attacks to even try to recreate. LOL You seem to be really good at intricate work, though.

    Happy Birthday Lisa!

    • John_OHFScratch

      I’ll be panicking soon enough!!

  • Happy belated birthday to Lisa! And extra bonus husband points to you!!

    As for the molding, I honestly don't notice that much difference between the options so I'll go with my stand-by answer….whatever is the least expensive and easiest. I'm always very helpful. ;P

  • Happy birthday to Lisa! I don't think you can go wrong with any of them, so I'd definitely go with the one that's the least expensive. But if that one happens to be the hardest, then maybe the middle option??! I can't wait to see it all done!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Whitney! We\’re still mulling it over!