Beadboard wainscoting is a classic and easy way to add a touch of vintage charm to your home. Use it to add interest to any room, from a casual dining room to the humble laundry room or mudroom. Once you start learning about beadboard wainscoting, you’ll find that there are many different materials available. The best choice for you will depend on where you intend to use it and how much you want to spend.
Solid wood beadboard is the most expensive option, but also the most attractive due to the depth of its grooves and the timeless quality only solid wood has. Generally sold in narrow, tongue-and-groove strips, solid wood beadboard can be nailed to the wall, leaving room between pieces to allow for wood’s natural expanding and contraction. Lesser woods like pine are generally painted, while better woods like cherry are generally stained and sealed.
A much less expensive option is plywood. Sold in large sheets, plywood is easy to cut to size and install. Because it is considerably thinner than solid wood, the grooves are shallower and less attractive, and camouflaging seams can be difficult. Plywood is best used in situations where you intend to paint it.
Medium density fiberboard is another inexpensive option that won’t expand and contract the way wood will. MDF is available primed for painted applications or with veneer overlays to mimic the look of real wood. This material is not the best choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, or exterior applications where moisture will be an issue unless it is specially treated to resist crumbling when it becomes wet.
Beadboard is now available in PVC materials, making it an ideal choice for exterior use, kitchen backsplashes, even shower or tub surrounds, any place where other materials would be damaged by water. PVC beadboard can be nailed up just like wood and, also like wood, will expand and contract if heat is an issue, so during installation, space should be left accordingly.