Wainscoting in the basement

Wainscoting in the basement
Wainscoting in the basement

The Mission: To design and work with left over trim molding to achieve a custom wainscoting for the basement home renovation. I am going to attempt to track the hours it takes to do this. Often, we see on tv shows, in magazines and books, how to do this or how to build that. Time is never mentioned but it is an important part of the building process. I consider myself an intermediate woodworker with enough skills to do most jobs, but I’m not a fast worker, I like to take my time.

 

The Total Cost so far, $750 materials:

      17 sheets of 3/4 x 12 x 96 inch MDF
      240 ft of baseboard molding
      240 ft of 1/4 round finger joint pine
      12 ft of 1×8 clear pine
      1 liter glue, assorted brad nails
      85 hrs labor (total)

The Process: Its taken us a couple of years to start the process of finishing the basement. We recently finished the drywall, plaster and paint stage. Now its to tackle the wainscot for the walls. In other rooms in the basement (bathroom and laundry) we used beadboard panels with a chair rail top trim and common style baseboard molding. We now wanted a more traditional style wainscot in the living room and basement entrance.

Trimming the basement
Trimming the basement.

The way I approach a project I need to plan it out in my head first. Not all details, but I like to step through the building process to see what obstacles will be met along the way. In designing this wainscot, I knew the MDF was going to be 3/4 inch thick and the chair rail on top was another 5/8 inch. Using stock molding flat against the door or window trim was not going to look good at all. The MDF was thicker than the stock trim and our personal taste is we do not like wainscot and chairs sticking out further than the door/window trim. So I decided to build out the stock trim. Time: 2 hrs.

Determining door trim.
Determining door trim.
Mockup of door trim.
Mockup of door trim.
Considering wainscot design.
Considering wainscot design.

A couple trips to the Central Home Improvement building center, mulling over what was in stock or what could be ordered. We even had the opportunity to speak with trim reps who just so happened to be in the store. I wasn’t impressed by what they were offering since it was the same as what I was currently looking at. The only solution was to use stock trim for the doors and windows and build them out past the chair rails molding. Here was a test mock up of what we decided to do. Time: 3 hrs.

Door trim header
Door trim header

I actually decided to do the room on the other side of this door first. That room will not have wainscot installed but I still had to build out the trim on the door because the baseboard molding and quarter round trim extended past the stock door trim.

Building out the door trim.
Building out the door trim.

I ripped some MDF that measured 9/16 inches wide, 2 pieces of MDF behind each piece of door trim so I had to rip 4 pieces. Glue and lots of nails! Good thing for nail hole filler. I typically use a 3/16 step back with installed door trim and I had it all measured out ready to nail but I noticed the door, when it closed, the latch would strike the molding. I know for fact that over time this would produce an ugly black mark on the trim from the door latch constantly hitting it, so I had to set it back 3/8 inch. That’s double what I typically do..but what else was there to do? I certainly could not (would not) cut a notch in the trim so the latch would not hit, and leaving it would eventually produce black marks. So this is after the correction, there’s just enough room for the latch to pass by. Time: 3 hrs.

Door latch install
Door latch install

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