Oak panels for bathroom wainscoting?

Greetings-
We're remodeling a bathroom in our 1957 home, the interior of which is almost entirely honey-colored oak (trim, windows, stairs, floors) so we're considering some sort of oak wainscoting in the bathroom. We don't like the look of beadboard or any of the manufactured panel products we've seen, so would have to make our own paneling to fit. Something like in this picture, perhaps, but in unpainted oak: http://www.hgtv.ca/hometostay/source_1011.aspx We'd end up with about 15 linear feet of panels on three walls, about 40" high, transitioning to plaster above.
I have 500 bd feet of red oak boards in the shop waiting to be used for something, so could mill some into panels and trim for the bathroom. Or the panels could be cut from oak ply. I'm not sure how these systems work though-- do the panels float in rabbets in the trim? Are they glued or nailed to the wall? (we have to remove existing wall tile, so there will be new wallboard behind whatever goes up on the lower half of the walls) For a damp location like this (it's our main bathroom) I assume I should finish both sides of the panels and seal the end grain as well, no?
If anyone's tried this or has advice, we'd appreciate some pointers to help us decide what to do.
thanks,
Kiwanda
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I would attach oak ply to the walls first screwing where the rails & stiles will cover, then attach your red oak to that. If you change your mind & decide to paint, then paint the ply before attaching the oak as there will be movement & the unpainted wood will show. Same for staining, if it's just poly, then I wouldn't worry, just three coats on the outside should do it. Finishing both sides especially close to the floor makes sense.

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wrote:

The easiest way IMO would be to panel the walls first laying out any seams to hide behind the styles. You could use 1/4" oak veneer or thicker. Then rail and style on the wall on top of the 1/4" with your oak stock. This method will require a cap piece to cover the 1/4" that will show at the top behind your rails but eliminates the need to rabbet for the panels or running down the styles for thickness. Once you have your rails and styles in you can leave them square or route the inside of the squares or you could use a molding in the squares. If you use a panel molding in the squares all of the rails and styles could be made of plywood since you will cover the edges with the molding.
Mike O.
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