Installing a Chair Rail

by Ashley Horne

Ever since we moved into our home in 2007, I wanted to install a chair rail to our dining room. Our dining room is excessively large and I thought it would do well with a décor based around such an addition. The following are the steps I took to successfully install our chair rail.

Chair Rail

First, measure the length of the walls in the entire room to determine the amount of chair rail that will need to be purchased. Then determine where you want to place the rail. Typical rails are placed about 1/3 of the way up the wall from the floor. For example, if your wall is 9’ high your rail would be 3’ off the floor. Next, use a ruler and level to make a straight line across the length of the walls.

You will then want to mark and cut the molding. Starting at an inside corner, door frame or window frame you want to make a square, 90 degree cut. For any corners a 45 degree angle should be used. If possible, only one piece of molding should be used for each stretch of wall. If you need to use two pieces of molding on one stretch of wall, the pieces must be mitered together to make a clean seam. The pieces should be cut at a 45 degree angle to make a seamless joint.

Once all the pieces are cut start to attach the pieces at an inside corner. To attach each piece you must use wood glue, a pneumatic nailer and 2 ½” finishing nails. The bottom edge of the molding should align with the line that was drawn on the wall. The nails should be inserted in the highest parts of the molding to prevent splitting and should align (one on top of the other).

To complete the project, recess the nails into the molding. Cover the holes with a little bit of wood filler and then lightly sand all surfaces. You should use a bead of caulk to fill in the gap between where the molding touches the wall. Finally, use a paint or stain to finish the job. A chair rail is such an easy way to complete a room!

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