Adding Wallpaper, Borders, Wainscoting, Or Chair Rails to Complete a Room

With all the available products on the market to change and improve the cosmetics of the home interior it can be a daunting choice. Wallpaper or borders can make it easy to theme out a room. Then there are chair rails or wainscoting. Paneling is another alternative. Is painting the best option? What about stenciling? Which is the most cost effective and least time consuming? What about safety?

The safest and least expensive cosmetic change overall is wallpaper or borders. This method of customizing a room’s appearance can be performed by almost any individual. As long as you have access to a sharp pair of scissors, a good straight 3′ level and/or a plumb bob, tape measure, and a sturdy step stool. The last item will be a long plastic water trough for submerging the wallpaper or border completely. With these few common household tools a typical 8′ tall wall can get a new lease on life. A good amount of open space will be required to allow for a good clutter free work area.

Painting is probably the most common method of altering a room’s appearance, but often comes with trade offs. Instead of a simple affordable step stool, a ladder will be required to reach the top edged of the wall where it meets the ceiling. Much of the necessary painting supplies such as brushes, rollers, and paint trays will quickly increase the cost. The advantage of painting is a truly customized color to reflect your décor and tastes.

Additional materials needed are drop cloths and either a dust mask or respirator. The last items necessary for proper safety are often overlooked. Safety should always be of prime importance. The majority of paints on the market can have adverse health risks. Most paints give off volatile organic compounds or V.O.C.s even after the paint has completely dried. Volatile organic compounds have been linked to head aches and nausea as well as more serious potential health risks. There are a growing number of low or no V.O.C. paints on the market as health awareness heightens.

Installing a chair rail or wainscoting will give any room a distinctive charm and flair, however, special attention, skills, and tools need to be used with this type of cosmetic customizing. A good miter saw and/or circular saw, tape measure, and safety instruments are just a few of the tools that are key in order to produce professional results. The majority of households do not have these tools necessary for installing this type of room accenting so is often the most expensive alternative to change a room’s appearance. If expense is of no concern, then safety and skill level with these tools is the next topic that needs to be addressed.

Make sure to have a good pair of safety glasses and hearing protectors. The power tools used for this project are often quite dangerous in the hands of an unskilled worker and special attention is required to use these tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Other safety issues are regarding the type of material from which the chair rail and/or wainscoting is made. Many composite materials such as MDF or other wood products have been manufactured using a formaldehyde based resin to glue the wood particle board together. This type of glue, commonly used in kitchen counter tops, has been proven to be carcinogenic. Many wood products, such as preassembled or ready-to-assemble furniture, that use particle board materials can produce off gases that may affect an individual’s health.

Further exploration of a room’s decorative options can be found throughout books, television, online, or even a hardware store. The imagination is the only limit to revitalizing that boring old room and showing off your accomplishments to friends and family.