Here are our bathroom wainscoting ideas including beadboard, raised panel, shiplap and tile designs for your home.
Wainscoting has long been used in interiors for both its function and its aesthetics. Albeit a more traditional design style, wainscoting has survived through the years and can still be seen in houses today It is most characterized by its decorative panel look that covers the lower part of the wall from the floor up. Wainscoting can brighten up a room and provide a timeless traditional interior design style.
In the bathroom picture above to frame in the freestanding tub, the three walls surrounding it was clad with beadboard wainscoting painted in white to match the door and window frames.
Here are the most common types of bathroom wainscoting ideas:
Shiplap or Beadboard – one of the most common types characterized by its tongue and groove design. (See our gallery of shiplap bathroom ideas here)
Raised panel – this represents the more classic / traditional wainscoting style which is a combination of flat panels and moldings.
Board & Batten – this style has a simpler aesthetic and is often found on country style homes. This type is installed directly onto the existing wall and doesn’t require flat boards or panels.
Barn door – also common in country style homes. It is made up of T&G backing boards, framed with wood on all four sides with the signature “X” in the middle.
Carved wainscoting – mostly found in old homes, these wainscoting are more intricate as they are usually hand-carved.
Wainscoting is generally made from wood, however it can also be found in plastic and fiberboard. In the bathroom its not unusual to find wainscoting made from tile, stone or acrylic materials that have a high tolerance for moist environments.
While wood wainscoting in the bathroom looks attractive and provides a traditional style, there are some requirements needed in order to keep it looking great. Since the bathroom is a high moisture environment it is a good idea to treat your wainscoting to better protect its beauty. Adding a shellac or latex based primer is advisable to enhance paint adhesion and seal the grain. Once you’ve applied primer you can paint the wood with a latex or polyurethane paint.
Bathroom Wainscoting Height
Traditionally, wainscoting matches the height of chair backrests as the middle molding (also known as the “chair rail”) was meant to help protect the walls / wallpaper from damage when a chair is pushed back on the wall. For bathrooms, the height of the wainscoting usually depends on the area of application.
It is most commonly used behind the water closet, on the vanity or on the walls surrounding the bathtub. It is typically between 32 inches to 42 inches in height.
Wainscoting Bathroom Pictures
Large windows line the walls of this bathroom leaving only a tiny space under the windows for the beadboard wainscoting. Matching the white-framed doors and windows, this wainscoting & baseboard matches with the existing aesthetic of the space.
Different from most bathroom wainscoting ideas that use a half wall this design uses a full wall raised panel. To match the classic glam look this large bathroom is going for, the bay window with freestanding tub uses white raised panels on the walls to achieve its classic and elegant look.
Beadboard panels easily bring out a very country / rustic vibe in any space. For this small bathroom, veritical beadboard wainscoting was used. And instead of the usual 3 to 4 inch wood panels, narrower wood boards were used for a finer texture and to better fit the smaller wall space. Combined with the yellow painted wall and the classic look of the toilet fixtures, this quaint bathroom definitely brings a homely country vibe.
Like a the previous bathroom design this is also quite small, and so narrower strips of wood are used for the beadboard wainscoting. Note that the wainscoting was only installed in areas where it is not expected to be soaked with water.
Beadboard wainscoting was also used in this bathroom, where it was installed on the walls of the toilet area, and on the walls surrounding bathtub. The wainscoting was installed for half the height of the wall, which is a little higher than the usual, but has the advantage of making the light switches and outlets on the wall blend in.
Since the freestanding tub is almost directly against the wall where a wainscoting is installed, it is important to remember that it would be best to use materials such as PVC or tiles to avoid possible moisture and water damage.
This bathroom definitely goes for a very unified theme with its cabinetry and wainscoting. An extra mile has been taken to successfully give both the walls and the built-in furniture pieces a uniform look, resulting in a very luxurious and elegant look. This bathroom uses raised panel wainscoting with an antiqued paint finish, combined with gold “stains” on the frame moldings to further give emphasis to its details. The wainscoting applied on the wall along the tub seamless blends with the overhead shelf storage, as well as with the built-in vanity and cabinets.
Bathroom Shiplap Wainscoting
Shiplap is characterized by long planks with a small space between each board similar to what you see on the exterior of many traditional style homes. Interior shiplap can be considered wainscoting when its panels are mounted at chair level height or up to around 32″ above the flooring.
Horizontal shiplap wainscoting was installed along the wall where the freestanding tub sits against to further emphasize the width and size of the bathroom. Wider wooden boards were used in this installation.
Unlike the other examples of vertical shiplap wainscoting, this bathroom uses wide wood panels instead instead of smaller panels, giving it a cleaner & simpler look. The advantage of wider boards is that it would be easier and faster to install, and a bit easier to maintain as it will have less grooves, edges and corners to maintain.
This cozy bathroom uses a variety of finishes to create an appealing interior design. White shiplap wainscoting shares one wall with a rustic original brick wall for the upper half.
Wainscoting for Small Bathrooms
For smaller bathrooms, wainscoting is commonly applied behind the water closet or behind the vanity/sink. Because the bathroom is always exposed to moisture and humidity, it is important to choose the right materials appropriate for bathroom applications, as well as to make sure they have been installed and finished properly to avoid molds, warping and other moisture-related damage.
Try to avoid using materials that easily warp when exposed to water or moisture such as MDF or particle boards. Preferred materials would be weather-treated wood, marine plywood, PVC and tiles, among others. Always remember that the installation and finishing of your wainscoting is just as important as its material, and will also be a factor on the longevity of your wainscoting.
The addition of wainscoting in this small bathroom definitely gives it a more rustic romantic vibe. The vertical beadboards adds more texture and depth, and is a good contrast against the gray painted walls. The wall molding used to top the vertical boards has a more pronounced profile, allowing you to place small items on it, such a small bottles of toiletries and the like, while remaining very subtle.
The previous examples of bathroom wainscoting ideas have mostly been white-painted wainscoting, but any other finish can still work for bathroom installations, such as this walnut-stained beadboard. The narrow vertical boards was topped with a slimmer molding profile so that it looks balanced with the beadboard panels.
The use of high, vertical beadboard wainscoting on this small bathroom helps make this small space look higher than it really is.
You don’t have to do all your walls with a wainscoting. Sometimes, you can just use one wall to serve as your accent wall, and in this case, the wall right beside the water closet. The mid-height wainscoting helps tone down the bold orange wall paint and helps create a focal point in this small space. See more bathroom paint ideas here.
Tile Wainscoting Bathroom
Ceramic and porcelain tiles now come in many different colors, finishes and textures. Tiles can mimic the look of natural materials (such as wood and stone), are low-cost, low-maintenance and is extremely durable. In areas such as bathroom which is always exposed to moisture and water, using tiles for your wainscoting is a very practical choice and is continuing to gain popularity among homeowners because of its worry-free durability.
Another practical, durable and easy to maintain alternative to wood and pvc wainscoting would be to use tiles. This example shows white textured ceramic tiles installed as wainscoting on the walls. this is combined with a thin PVC molding to close the top edges, making it look cleaner and adding more depth.
You can also use subway tiles as your wainscoting material. The subway tiles adds more texture and personality to any surface, affordable and currently on trend. The beveled ceramic tiles gives any wall surface more depth and texture, and it also gives it the same country rustic vibe wood wainscoting does.
Featuring a white subway tile with wainscoting design this master bathroom features a freestanding tub, plantation shutters and gray wall paint.
For a more contemporary look that is both practical and easy to maintain, why not use large wood finish ceramic tiles as your wainscoting? You can use ceramic moldings as well to top the edges off, or a PVC molding in a similar color to give it a cleaner finish. Wood look tile looks very attractive as bathroom flooring and is easy to clean and maintain.