Should You Paint Wainscoting the Same Color as the Wall? Pros and Cons to Consider

Painting wainscoting is always a tricky decision, especially when it comes to choosing the color. Should you paint the wainscoting the same color as the wall? Or should you go for a contrasting color? There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to wainscoting color selection. The truth is, it depends on your personal preference and the overall design you are looking to achieve in your home.

Some people believe that painting wainscoting the same color as the wall gives a monochromatic and cohesive feel to the room. It blends in with the wall, creating an illusion of a larger space. However, others argue that painting the wainscoting a contrasting color provides visual interest and adds depth to the room. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right balance between your taste and the style you want to create. Whether you are going for a more minimalist look or something more extravagant, choosing the right color for your wainscoting can make a significant difference in transforming your living space.

Types of Wainscoting Materials

Wainscoting is a classic feature that adds texture, depth, and character to a room. It typically refers to the decorative wooden paneling that covers the lower part of an interior wall, but it can also include other materials such as tiles or wallpaper. Here are some of the most popular wainscoting materials:

  • Wood: A traditional and versatile option, wood wainscoting comes in many different styles and finishes, from simple shiplap to intricately carved panels. It can be painted or stained to match the rest of the room, making it easy to achieve a cohesive look.
  • Beadboard: Beadboard wainscoting is made up of narrow, vertical planks with a small ridge or “bead” between them. It’s popular in country and coastal homes, but can also provide a charming touch to modern interiors when painted in a fresh, bright color.
  • Tile: For a more luxurious look, tile wainscoting adds texture, color, and durability to a room. Popular choices include subway, penny, and hexagonal tiles, which can be arranged in a variety of patterns and finishes to create a subtle or dramatic effect.
  • Metal: Metal wainscoting is a modern and industrial choice that adds a bold statement to any room. It’s often made of stainless steel, copper, or zinc, and can be polished or left with a natural patina to create a unique look.

When choosing the right wainscoting material for your home, consider the style of the room, the level of durability required, and the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs and aesthetic preferences.

Pros and Cons of Painting Wainscoting the Same Color as the Wall

When it comes to painting wainscoting, there are a lot of different options to consider. One of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether or not to paint the wainscoting the same color as the wall. There are pros and cons to both options, and ultimately the decision will depend on your personal preferences and the style of the room you are decorating.

  • Pro: Creates a Seamless and Cohesive Look – Painting your wainscoting the same color as the wall can help create a seamless and cohesive look in your room. This is especially true if you have high ceilings or a lot of architectural details that can be overwhelming if they are painted a different color.
  • Con: Lacks Visual Interest and Contrast – One of the biggest downsides to painting wainscoting the same color as the wall is that it can lack visual interest and contrast. This can make the room feel bland and uninviting, and it can be difficult to add other colors and patterns to the space without overwhelming the design.
  • Pro: Can Make a Small Room Feel Larger – If you are working with a small room, painting the wainscoting the same color as the wall can help make the space feel larger and more open. This is because there are fewer visual breaks in the design, which can help the eye travel more easily around the room.
  • Con: Can Be Boring and Predictable – While a cohesive look can be desirable, painting wainscoting the same color as the wall can also be viewed as boring and predictable. If you want to create a more dynamic space with different textures and finishes, painting your wainscoting a different color can be a great way to achieve that goal.
  • Pro: Easy to Coordinate with Other Decorative Elements – When you paint your wainscoting the same color as the wall, it becomes much easier to coordinate with other decorative elements in the room. This can make it easier to choose furniture, artwork, and accessories that complement the overall design of the space.
  • Con: Can Hide the Beauty and Details of the Wainscoting – If you have beautiful wainscoting with intricate details, painting it the same color as the wall can actually hide those details and make the design feel more flat and one-dimensional.

Overall Thoughts

Ultimately, whether or not to paint your wainscoting the same color as the wall is a personal decision that will depend on your design preferences and the style of the room you are working with. While there are pros and cons to both options, the most important thing is to choose a design that you love and that makes you feel happy and comfortable in your home.

Tips for Painting Wainscoting

If you do decide to paint your wainscoting, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Tip Explanation
Make Sure the Surface is Clean and Dry Before you start painting, make sure the wainscoting is clean and dry. This will help ensure that the paint adheres properly and that the final finish looks smooth and professional.
Use a High-Quality Paint and Brush Investing in a high-quality paint and brush can help ensure that the final finish looks beautiful and lasts for many years. Cheaper paints and brushes are more likely to crack, peel, and wear away over time.
Consider a Semi-Gloss or Glossy Finish A semi-gloss or glossy finish can help make the wainscoting stand out and add some visual interest to the room. However, this finish can also highlight imperfections in the surface, so it’s important to make sure the wainscoting is prepared properly before using this type of paint.
Take Your Time and Use Multiple Coats Painting wainscoting can be a time-consuming process, but taking your time and using multiple coats can help ensure that the final result looks beautiful and professional. Don’t rush the process, and make sure each coat has dried completely before applying the next one.

How to properly prep wainscoting for painting

Painting wainscoting can be a great way to add character and interest to your walls. However, before painting your wainscoting, it’s important to properly prep the surface to ensure a smooth and even finish. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Clean the surface – before painting, make sure the wainscoting is clean and free of any dust, grease, or dirt. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the surface, making sure to get into any crevices or grooves.
  • Sand the surface – using a fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the surface of the wainscoting. This will ensure the paint adheres properly and will help to remove any imperfections or rough spots.
  • Fill any gaps or holes – if there are any gaps or holes in the wainscoting, use a wood filler to fill them in. Make sure to allow enough time for the filler to dry completely before painting.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your wainscoting is properly prepped for painting. This will help to ensure a smooth and even finish that will last for years to come.

Best Paint Colors for Wainscoting and Walls

Choosing the right paint colors for your wainscoting and walls can be a difficult task, but it is important to ensure that the colors complement each other. The following are some of the best paint colors for wainscoting and walls:

  • White – White is a classic and timeless color that works well for wainscoting and walls. It is especially great for creating a clean and fresh look, and it complements any other color.
  • Grey – Grey is a versatile color that can work well with various styles and color palettes. It adds depth and sophistication to any room when paired with a lighter shade of grey on the walls.
  • Blue – If you want to create a calm and serene atmosphere, blue is the perfect color choice. It works well with white wainscoting and a darker shade of blue on the walls, creating a coastal and relaxing vibe.

There are countless colors to choose from, but these options are a great starting point to create a cohesive and harmonious look in your space.

Best Paint Colors for Wainscoting

When it comes to choosing the best paint color for your wainscoting, it is important to consider the style and color scheme of the room. Here are some suggestions:

  • Dark brown – Dark brown is perfect for creating a warm and inviting space, especially when paired with light walls. It works especially well in traditional or rustic-styled homes.
  • Black – Black wainscoting adds a touch of modern elegance to any room. It works best when paired with neutral or white walls and can create a bold and dramatic look.
  • Navy blue – Navy blue is a great choice for wainscoting as it adds a touch of sophistication and pairs well with many other colors. It works especially well in nautical themed rooms or children’s bedrooms.

Best Paint Colors for Walls

The color of your walls can significantly impact the overall ambiance of a room. Here are some excellent paint color options for your walls:

Neutrals – Neutral tones like beige, grey or white can create a clean and serene feel in your space. They are a great option if you want to create a warm and welcoming environment without being too overwhelming. You could even consider creating an ombre effect from light to darker shades of the same color for added dimension.

Bold Colors – If you are feeling daring, you can experiment with bold colors such as pink, red, or green. These colors can add energy and life to a room, but they should be used sparingly and should be balanced with a neutral or white wainscoting.

Paint Colors Room Styles
Light blue Beachy or Coastal style
Pale yellow Country or Cottage style
Soft pink Girly or Vintage style

No matter what color you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that your walls should create a cohesive look with your wainscoting and overall decor.

How to create contrast between wainscoting and walls

Choosing to paint wainscoting the same color as the walls can result in a cohesive and seamless look. However, if you want to create contrast and add visual interest to your space, consider these tips:

  • Choose a contrasting color: If your walls are a light color, consider painting your wainscoting a darker shade. This will create a bold contrast between the two elements. Alternatively, if your walls are a darker shade, choose a light color for your wainscoting to make it stand out.
  • Try a different finish: Painting your wainscoting with a different finish than your walls can create a subtle contrast. If your walls are painted with a matte finish, try painting your wainscoting with a glossy finish. This will add texture and depth to the space.
  • Use wallpaper: Adding wallpaper to your wainscoting is a great way to create contrast. Choose a pattern or color that complements your walls, but also stands out on its own. This will add visual interest to the space.

Another way to create contrast is to use different materials for your wainscoting than your walls. For example, if your walls are painted drywall, consider using wood or tile for your wainscoting. This will add texture and depth to the space.

Contrasting Wall and Wainscoting Combinations Image Reference
White walls with navy blue wainscoting White walls with navy blue wainscoting
Gray walls with white wainscoting Gray walls with white wainscoting
Beige walls with green wainscoting Beige walls with green wainscoting

Remember, creating contrast between your wainscoting and walls doesn’t mean they have to clash. By choosing colors, materials, and finishes that complement each other, your space can look balanced and harmonious while still adding visual interest.

DIY Wainscoting Installation Tips

Wainscoting is a classic wall treatment that adds elegance and charm to any room. It’s a DIY project that requires some skills and patience, but with these tips, you can easily install wainscoting like a pro.


  • Wainscoting panels
  • Miter saw
  • Nail gun or hammer and finishing nails
  • Construction adhesive
  • Caulk gun
  • Spackling paste
  • Primer and paint


Before you start installing wainscoting, make sure to measure the walls accurately and create a layout plan. It’s also essential to remove any outlet covers, baseboard, and trim. It’s a good idea to mark the studs on the wall to ensure the panels are secured to the wood studs, providing a sturdy support structure.

Cut the wainscoting panels to fit the wall height, adding a few inches for overhang. Use the miter saw to create 45-degree cuts for the corners. Apply construction adhesive on the back of the panels, and place them on the wall, starting at one end of the room. Continue the installation until you reach the other end of the room.


Once the panels are in place, you can secure them using a nail gun or hammer and finishing nails. Make sure to counter-sink the nails, so they don’t show. Fill the nail holes with spackling paste, and sand them down. It’s also crucial to caulk all the gaps between the panels and the wall, sealing any air gaps.

After the installation is complete, prime the panels and paint them the same color as the wall or a contrasting color to add visual interest. You can use a paint sprayer for a smoother finish or use a brush or roller.


Installing wainscoting is a fantastic way to enhance the look of any room. With the right materials, tools, and techniques, you can create a professional-looking wainscoting installation that will delight you and your guests. Follow these DIY wainscoting installation tips and enjoy the transformation of your space.

Maintaining painted wainscoting and walls

After the wainscoting and walls are painted, it is important to maintain them so that they look fresh and clean for years to come. Here are some tips on how to maintain painted wainscoting and walls:

  • Regular cleaning: Dust and grime can accumulate on wainscoting and walls, so it’s important to clean them regularly. Use a mild soap and warm water to wipe down the surfaces, and then dry them with a soft cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers that can scratch the paint surface.
  • Touch-ups: Over time, painted wainscoting and walls may develop small chips or scratches. These can be easily touched up with the same paint used for the original job. Keep a small amount of paint on hand so that you can quickly touch up any areas that need it.
  • Protective coating: Applying a protective coating, such as a clear coat or wax, can help to protect the surface from damage and make it easier to clean. This is especially important in high-traffic areas, such as hallways or entryways, where the wainscoting and walls may be more prone to wear and tear.

Here is a table that shows some common problems that can occur with painted wainscoting and walls, and how to fix them:

Problem Solution
Chips or scratches Touch up with paint
Dents or nicks Fill with spackle, sand, and touch up with paint
Stains Spot-clean with mild soap and warm water
Fading or discoloration Touch up with paint or repaint the entire surface

By following these tips, you can maintain the beauty and durability of your painted wainscoting and walls. With proper care, they can continue to enhance the look of your home for many years to come.

Should You Paint Wainscoting Same Color as Wall? FAQs

Q: What is wainscoting?

A: Wainscoting refers to the decorative paneling that covers the lower part of a wall. It can be made of wood, tile, or other materials.

Q: Why would someone want to paint wainscoting the same color as the wall?

A: Painting wainscoting the same color as the wall can create a cohesive and seamless look in a room. It can also make a small room appear larger.

Q: Are there any situations where painting wainscoting the same color as the wall is not recommended?

A: If you want to create contrast or highlight the wainscoting, painting it a different color than the wall may be a better option.

Q: Can wainscoting be painted a different color than the wall?

A: Yes, wainscoting can be painted a different color than the wall. This can create a distinct and dramatic look in a room.

Q: What are some popular color choices for wainscoting?

A: White is a classic choice for wainscoting, as it creates a bright and timeless look. Other popular options include shades of gray or beige.

Q: Is it difficult to paint wainscoting?

A: Painting wainscoting can be a bit more complicated than painting a flat wall, as there are often different angles and contours to work with. However, with some patience and careful attention to detail, it can be done.

Q: Should I hire a professional to paint my wainscoting?

A: If you are inexperienced with painting or have a large amount of wainscoting to paint, it may be a good idea to hire a professional. They can ensure a clean and polished look for your wainscoting.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for reading our article on whether you should paint wainscoting the same color as the wall. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the look you are trying to achieve in your room. Experiment with different color options to find the perfect fit for your space. Don’t forget to check back for more home decor tips and inspiration!