We're redoing our front room in our house. We're thinking of going with a 'seaside cottage' feel and installing some wainscoting on the walls about 2/3rds the way up.

The catch is that our house currently has doors with casings, but the windows are using a finished sheetrock return. They do have a stool, but not casings around the outside.

Is there a typical way to handle finishing wainscoting around a caseless window short of tearing out all the sheetrock and actually fully framing the windows?

I had two ideas:

  1. Bring the wainscoting up around the windows but stop short 1" or so to the corner. Allow the sheetrock to be exposed around the window.

  2. Do the same, but extend the wainscoting right to the corner, and then apply a small (easily removable) trim piece to cover the outside corner around the window.

Has anyone done/seen that type of finish detail? Any other typical solutions for this?

  • 3
    Can you post a pic of the window returns? There are many ways to trim out a window. How thick is your wainscoting? Is it solid wood or a composite? Need a bit more info to give you a workable answer. Dec 8, 2012 at 11:31
  • I like choice #2.
    – DMoore
    May 8, 2013 at 6:21

4 Answers 4


I would case the windows too. No need to tear out the sheetrock if it's sound - nail right up over it to the framing wood behind it at the corners. What you use to do this and how exactly is up to you, the functions of the windows, and the wainscoting. The wainscoting is going to add visual bulk and interest to the surface of the otherwise blank wall, and leaving a window in the same room as it uncased is going to make the window look naked and unfinished. I might take it a step further and suggest adding crown molding to the room as well, for the ceiling-wall corners are also going to look naked and unfinished with the heavy wainscoting present in the room. Wainscoting is part of a larger system and method of finishing a room that I don't think it can be divorced from without sacrificing harmony.

  • I think this is great advice and pretty much agree with it in general. Alas, we ended up not casing the windows completely (see my answer elsewhere). We opted to do less rather than more (both in terms of decoration and labor :)
    – DA01
    Apr 8, 2015 at 6:36



It appears to be just a matter of how you trim it out. You can do something detailed like in the photo or as simple as 1/4 round trim to cover the edge.

  • That's the question, I suppose: how do folks typically trim it out (or maybe there is no typical answer?)
    – DA01
    Dec 7, 2012 at 20:03
  • BTW, I love houzz too. Alas, I haven't been able to find a picture of both wainscoting and casing-less windows yet. So, maybe it is rather atypical. I guess that makes sense as sheetrock returns are all about less ornamentation while wainscoting tends to be about more ornamentation.
    – DA01
    Dec 7, 2012 at 20:06
  • 1
    True, also rockers are cheaper than finish carpenters. I would focus on carrying the theme of whatever cap treatment you're using down the side of the opening and tying in the stool somehow. I'm inclined to flush it with the return rather than carrying around the corner. A coat or two of mud would be used so it flushes out perfectly.
    – bcworkz
    Jan 6, 2013 at 22:28

This is a long overdue answer to my own question.

I never did find an example elsewhere of handling this so I just went with my gut and ended up with this:

enter image description here

I pretty much added casing to the outside of the window that met up with the wainscoting and didn't do anything above. I think it would have looked good with full casing as well, but we didn't want to over-due the decorative aspect of this (as you can see it's a fairly plain wainscoting pattern to begin with). We think it looks fine--especially since it's usually covered by curtains anyways (alas, these aren't the prettiest windows to begin with...)

Here's a close-up:

enter image description here

I painted the inside sheetrock white to match the wainscoting and added a little return piece at the division between the white and wall color. You notice it up close if you're looking, but otherwise I think it worked out OK.


I didn't have pics of how I did the window area but here is pic which shows one method of edging: I would make an apron for under the window sill and for beside the window - experiment with widths that look good for the particular style of wainscot you are using. If it is stain grade wainscot - you should be able to pick up stock to make it out of. wainscot trim

  • I'm putting bead-board panelling half-way up a sheetrock wall with a newly installed window. The window is not yet trimmed out with casing, but it soon will be. Question is: Should I panel around window first, and put side casing and stool apron trim ON TOP of the paneling, or should I trim the window first and scribe/notch the paneling around it? Paneling under casing is easier, but the paneling stops mid-window and the side casings of the window would span a level change. Perhaps build up the side-casing with scrap panel to extend the same level, and caulking? Same with door casing...
    – jbbenni
    Jun 30, 2015 at 19:50

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