How to Deal with Wainscoting Problems the Right Way

Whether you have full wall panel wainscoting or a design that only covers one-third of your wall, chances are that you might experience some problems over time. Don’t forget that these wall panels are excellent decorative elements. But they are also used in high-traffic areas for wall protection. And so the wall might be protected but the panel won’t. Then, there might be all kinds of small or big disasters in the home that could cause damage. Last but not least, problems are caused by normal wear and tear. Time takes its toll on wainscoting panels too.   

What’s the good news? Sometimes, wainscoting problems can be fixed. And we are here to show you what you can do each time you are faced with trouble.

Why wainscoting becomes damaged

If you read wainscoting installation ideas, you will most likely notice that emphasis is given on leaving wooden panels to get acclimated to the room.  That’s true for any wood product, which will be installed indoors. The objective here is to allow timber to get used to the internal temperatures and fluctuations. Since this is a natural product, it contracts and expands. And this can cause problems if the wooden panels are not acclimated to the environment where they will be installed.

And then it’s the problem with the moisture. A beadboard wainscoting is a popular choice for bathrooms. But over time or when the bathroom is not ventilated properly, the wood or MDF panels will absorb moisture and swell.

Another problem is with the way the flat or raised panel is installed. If the wrong adhesives or nails have been used, they can create gaps or let the panels sag.

Similar problems can turn your beautiful shaker wainscoting into an ugly panel that won’t only fail to protect the wall but make a disastrous architectural effect.

How to fix cracked wainscoting

It’s rather easy to scratch the raised panel wainscoting, especially if you have kids and naughty pets in the house. Some cracks can also be a result of having the wainscoting for years or perhaps close to the radiator. No matter the reason for the problem, you need to clean the problem area with a knife and remove the splinters. When the surface is clean and smooth, you should use a putty to fill the small holes cracks create. If it’s a rather big crack, use your knife to even the putty and ensure it has filled the hole completely. Once the putty dries, you should sand and repaint.

How to deal with warped wainscoting panels

Your wood panels in the bathroom might warp due to the high moisture. It’s only fair to say that if the panels have been damaged extensively, it’s better to replace them. But if you are dealing with warped wooden paneling for now that slightly bows outwards, you may be able to restore damage by nailing or gluing it again. Another solution is to use joint compound to apply over the panel and repaint over it once it is dry. But such solutions are suggested only when the warped part is small and doesn’t seem to affect the adjacent boards or enable water to travel through the boards.

How to fix wainscoting gaps

If you have a tongue-and-groove bead board wainscoting panel, there might be gaps between the strips. If the gaps are rather narrow, you might be able to save the situation by sealing the gap. You need to clean the area with a knife and determine the side of the tongue. You need to apply a primer and once dried to apply a finish paint. This solution will not close the gap but make it a tad smaller. You can also use caulk to seal the gap but don’t use wood putty because it will keep wood from naturally stretch and contract and this might cause cracks.

Are wainscoting repairs the best solutions?

Remember that there are several modern wainscoting repair solutions but don’t take care of the problem 100%. Unless you are dealing with tiny cracks here and scratches there that don’t seem to affect the overall condition of the wood panels, these solutions just buy you some time till you are able to replace the wainscoting. If water finds its way behind the panels either in the bathroom or due to a flood, the area (your wall included) will fill with mold. And that’s not what you want. In such cases, it’s always preferable to shop around for some new wainscoting ideas and install new panels instead of having bad odors and hazardous mold spores multiplying in an area you don’t have access to.