A wall treatment made of facing or wood panelling fixed to the lower half of interior walls, wainscot is an English period architectural detail that served both a decorative and a practical purpose: to cover up and protect from rising damp in old or stone cob walls. For this reason, wainscot is fitted with some ventilation facility, which should not be fully covered up or painted over.
There are several clear forms of wainscot:
a) the simplest form of wainscot, horizontally lapped board, called ship-lap, are fixed to vertical battens. They are finished at the top edge with a simple ledge and may or may not have a skirting or base
b) tongue and grooved planks are fitted vertically to horizontal battens. In the past both sides of the planks were grooved and the tongues slipped in separately. The top edge is finished with a simple ledge, and either cut to floor at the bottom or edged with a narrow strip of wood just deep enough to cover the cut edges.
c) made to measure panels that are divided into sections and variously i) flat with an applied moulding, ii) raised and fielded or iii)fielded or iv) fielded and beaded]
* Georgian, Gustavian and Louis ….wall panelling proportions are very elegant. The height of the top rail is always placed to prevent the top of a side chair marking the walling behind–this is called the dado rail, and the panelled area beneath is the dado.
* The walls above the wainscot may be left very plain, lime-washed in simple homes, or highly decorated.
* A grand house might well have high quality fabric battened off the walls with padding between, or free hanging tapestries. In lesser rooms and houses canvas it was not uncommon for walling to be removable painted panels or canvas glued to the wall and decorated with stenciled pattern or painted stripes. Any or all of these wall coverings is as valid today as it has been over the past centuries
* Wall paneling, for part whole rooms, is sometimes referred to by the French name, boiserie.