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How to Install Wainscot Molding With Baseboard Heating

Jasey Kelly

Adding wainscoting is a relatively inexpensive way to add warmth and character to a drab room. Although it is easy to install, you will probably need to work around obstacles such as outlet boxes, window or door casings or baseboard heaters.

Wainscoting comes in different heights, styles and materials.

One way to work around a baseboard heater is to frame around it, using trim that's at least three-quarters-inch thick.


  1. Check your town's building codes to find out how much space you need between the heater and any trim on the wall.

  2. Remove the heater's end caps and metal housing. In most cases, you won't need any tools.

  3. Remove the baseboard trim with a pry bar and hammer, and set aside. If you are planning to reuse it, take care not to damage it during the removal.

Framing Around the Heater

  1. Measure the width and length of the heater.

  2. Measure the width of the three-quarter-inch -- or larger -- trim that you have chosen.

  3. Cut one piece of trim to a length equal to the length of the heater, plus twice the width of the trim, using a miter saw. Cut the ends at a 45-degree angle -- the angles will go from the top inward when the trim's installed. For example, if your heater is 5 feet long, and your trim is 6 inches wide, you will cut this piece of trim to 6 feet -- 5 feet plus 12 inches.

  4. Cut two pieces of trim to a length equal to the height of your heater, plus the width of the trim. Cut one end of each piece at a 45-degree angle -- the angles will go from the outer-top corners inward when they're installed, and they will be opposite each other. Cut the other end at a 45-degree angle. This is for installing the baseboard trim, which will also be cut at a 45-degree angle. For example, if your heater is 8 inches off the floor, and the trim is 6 inches wide, cut the trim to 14 inches.

  5. Place the end caps on the heater for a correct fit.

  6. Install the first piece of side trim. Use a couple of beads of construction adhesive, and press the piece into place, next to the end cap, making sure the 45-degree angle at the top angles inward. Finish with paneling nails.

  7. Install the other piece of side trim in the same manner, again ensuring that the 45-degree angle goes inward, toward the heater and down.

  8. Install the top piece of the frame in the same manner, fitting the angles into the angles of the side pieces.

  9. Measure and cut the baseboard trim, ensuring that you cut 45-degree angles where they will join with the side pieces of the frame.

  10. Replace the metal housing over your baseboard heater.

No-Frame Method

  1. Prepare the heater, and remove the metal housing.

  2. Measure the heater without the housing, both length and height.

  3. Mark a template on the back of your wainscoting panel where the heater will be. Use the heater measurements without the housing.

  4. Cut the panel accordingly, and fit the panel over the baseboard heater to make sure your cuts are correct.

  5. Install the panel with small beads of construction adhesive and finishing nails.

  6. Cut the baseboard to fit just to the end caps of the heater.

  7. Install the baseboard with construction adhesive and nails.

  8. Tip

    Fill in the nail holes with wood putty, and paint over them with your trim paint to finish your project.