Thursday, May 8, 2014

Square Wainscotting Tunnel Below Stairs

The wall beneath my stairs is boring no more! Using some maple and birch 1/4" plywood that I ripped down to to 3" strips, I created a square wainscoting pattern in the little tunnel going into the kitchen.

Here are some before shots. After putting wainscoting on the stairs, restaining the banister, and painting the spindles, the wall beneath the stairs looked a little bare.

Here's a shot of the "tunnel"

I started by making a template of a runner by taping paper to the wall.

Then I measured 3"down from each step to make a diagonal line.

I traced the template onto a massive sheet of Maple 1/4" plywood and cut it out with a jigsaw.

I drilled holes near the corners to help in turning the saw.

All cut out!

Then I nailed it in place so I could start figuring out the placement of the vertical pieces.

I wanted everything to be outlined, so I put down some boards on top of the baseboard and then put the edge board up meeting the crown at the top.

I wanted to get as many long pieces from my sheet of Maple as possible. I used masking tape to mark my 3" pieces the keep the wood from splintering. (Once I ran out of maple, I ripped some birch plywood for some of the horizontal pieces and they splintered a little even with tape--the maple cut way nicer)

I put a piece at the end of the wall and at the top. Then I was able to evenly divide the space for the other three pieces and come up with a base measurement for the width of the sqaures.

Then I was able to start cutting smaller pieces and put in the horizontal pieces. In order to place them evenly, I wasn't able to have them be exact squares, but they are pretty close.

I moved to frame the area in the center.

And the area next to the closet door. There were different widths on each side, but I made the height the same as the height of the squares on the opposite wall,so there would be some symmetry.

I used my contour gauge to cut the shapes of molding where needed.

I sunk any stray nail holes and used wood filler to fill all holes. I even used an old gift card to smooth over some cracks.

After sanding all the dried filler till it was smooth, I started taping the inside of the squares so I could caulk each individual square.

(Yeah, it was great fun)

Two coats of primer (I used three on the wall by the door)
Three to four coats of semi-gloss bright white.

I like how well it blends into my faux columns


  1. Wow! You got skillz ;) It looks great!

  2. Oh Emily, that is beautiful! Do you read Miss Mustard Seed? She did a similar project with wainscotting in her family room, but yours is so much more impressive! (I like how you refer to this as a tunnel instead of a hallway. Sounds more fun.)

  3. Very nice job documenting the project. It looks just as nice in your photos as it does in person!