The Oxford English Dictionary states that 'wainscot' derives from the medieval German word wagenschot or 'wall-board'. The term applied to high quality oak boards.
- Noun: Wainscot, the inner wooden covering of a wall.
- Verb: To wainscot, to line the walls with boards
A 'wainscot' was therefore a board of oak, and wainscoting was the paneling made from it.
The term wainscoting, as applied to the lining of walls, originated in a species of foreign oak of the same name, used for that purpose; and although that has long been superseded by the introduction of fir timber, the term has been continued notwithstanding the change of material.
Also in the 18th century, the style of paneling changed from a floor-to-ceiling covering to one in which only the lower part of the wall was covered. Hence wainscot or wainscoting became a paneling style applied to the lower 90 to 150cm (3 to 5ft) of an interior wall, below the chair rail, and above the baseboard or skirting board. It is traditionally constructed from tongue-and-groove boards, though bead-board or decorative panels, such as a wooden door might have, are also common.
New manufacturing techniques are capable of milling large panels from one sheet, reducing seams, caulking, and expansion/contraction cracks that have plagued traditional construction.
The original purpose of wainscoting was to cover the lower part of walls, which, in houses constructed with poor or non-existent damp-proof courses, are often affected by rising dampness. Its purpose is now decorative.
When you think of wainscot, do you think… dining room? Yes, the most common application of the paneling is in the dining room, but guess what… it’s not your Grandmother’s paneling anymore.
Wainscot has become so beloved to homeowners that it can be found in just about every room of the home. If there’s a wall, there is wainscoting.
And of course, DINING ROOM