Wainscoting Layout Calculator
Provide the number of panels you want and we'll calculate how wide the panels should be so they can be evenly spaced on the wall and we'll layout the stiles for the calculated panel dimensions.
Provide an approximate width of a panel and we'll calculate the closest exact panel size that can be evenly spaced on the wall and we'll layout the stiles for the calculated wainscoting panel dimensions.
How to Layout Wainscoting or Board and Batten Panels
Wainscoting consists of rails and stiles that surround a panel and adds a beautiful look to a home. There are several styles of wainscoting, including raised panel, flat panel, overlay panel, board and batten, and bead-board. The rails are the horizontal boards at the top and bottom of the wainscoting, and the stiles are the vertical boards that separate the panels. Panels may be installed with trim between the rails and stiles, but a flat panel or board and batten look can be achieved without installing a wood panel.
The first step in a wainscoting installation is to layout the rails, stiles, and panels. Most often, the panels are an even width, which requires some measuring to find the correct width that allows all of the panels to be consistent. To start laying out the panels and stiles, measure the width of the wall in inches.
Once you have the width of the wall, consider how many panels you would like to install on the wall and the dimensions of the rails and stiles that will be used. The lower rail is often much wider than the top rail, usually around 7″-8″. The top rail and stiles are usually 2″-3″.
The next step is to find the width of the panels. One formula to find the panel width is to divide the wall width plus the stile width by the number of installed panels to find the width of the stile and panel together, then subtract the width of the stile to find the final width of the panel.
panel width = (wall width + stile width / number of panels) – stile width
Consider that this will be the visible width of the panel, or more specifically, the distance between each stile. For panel designs that incorporate trim between the panel and the stile the actual panel size may be smaller and for assembled panels where the panel is installed in a groove behind the stiles the panel may be larger. Your exact style of wainscoting will inform the actual panel width, but we now know enough to start laying out the stiles evenly on the wall.
To start laying out the stiles, locate the first stile, which would be from 0″ to the stile width. Then add the width of the panel to find the next stile location. Continue this process along the wall to locate the placement of each stile.
To find the height of the stiles, start by finding the desired height of the wainscoting, then subtracting the top rail width by the bottom rail width.
stile height = wainscoting height – top rail width – bottom rail width
How to Estimate Wainscoting Materials
There are a few components that need to be estimated to find the amount of material needed. Start by measuring the wall width and wainscoting height. The width of the wall will be the needed length of the top rail, bottom rail, and chair rail or cap moulding.
Estimate the Amount of Wainscoting Stile Material Needed
To find the length of stile material needed, find the height of each stile and multiply by the number of panels, then add 1. For example, if a stile is 24″ and there are three panels, there will be 96″ of stile material needed.
stile length = stile height × (number of panels + 1)
Estimate the Amount of Wainscoting Panel Material Needed
To find the amount of panel material needed, multiply the height of the panel by the width of the panel to find the size of the panel, then multiply by the number of panels needed. For example, a 24″ high by 36″ wide panel is 6 square feet, if there are three panels, then 18 square feet will be needed.
panel material square footage = panel height × panel width × number of panels
Handling Inner Corners
It is almost inevitable that a wainscoting project will involve an inner corner. The inner corner adds a slight challenge because there is an overlap the thickness of the wainscoting where the walls meet. This can cause the stile on the edge to appear thinner than the rest since a portion of the stile is buried behind the wainscoting on the adjacent wall.
To account for this use a stile on each edge that is wider by the thickness of the stiles. To get an even panel layout, subtract the thickness of the added stile widths from the wall width before calculating. The provided stile locations may be off if the first stile is wider, consider this when laying out the stiles. It may be necessary to add the extra stile thickness to each still start and end location to make the layout even.
Additional Carpentry Resources
Use our trim and moulding calculator to estimate the linear footage of trim and mouldings for a room. Our board footage calculator is great for estimating the board footage of a board, which is necessary to calculate the cost of materials. Get free wainscoting installation estimates from professional trim carpenters in your area.