DIY – Dress Up Your Room With A Chair Rail

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Chair RailIf you are like me you often fall asleep thinking of things you want to do to dress up your home. I have a dining room that I really like. It is bright, the furniture fits well, but something was missing.

My high ceilings curve into the wall and prohibit the use of crown molding. Further, the flow of the room into the rest of the house is a deterrent to using a different color of paint the room and highlight the area. I had been at a loss for quite a while, when it finally dawned on me that the installation of a chair rail molding would add a level of class to the room and allow me to paint the railing or the lower portion of the wall to further enhance the room. I was thrilled to discover that I could do this project myself and that is was not even an expensive undertaking.

Preliminary Steps

First select the perfect molding. It comes in variety of sizes and styles, so carefully choose something that compliments the room. Look for a size and design that does not overwhelm the rest of the room but works in harmony with the furniture and décor.

The next important step is determining the placement of the rail. The general rule is that it will sit between 30 and 36 inches from the floor. Take note of the height of furniture and windows in the room to find a good fit for placement of the chair rail.

Now it is time to buy supplies and make sure you have all the tools you need.


  • chair rail molding
  • finishing nails
  • wood glue
  • wood filler
  • wall paint or stain

Tools required include:

  • a miter saw or miter box and a hand saw
  • hammer or nail gun
  • nail set
  • level
  • sandpaper attachment
  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • paint brush

Step One:

Make the final measurements for placement of the chair rail and use a pencil to make the wall. The pencil mark will be the bottom of the rail. Use the level to make sure that all of the marks line up and the rail will be level. Be very careful because floors are often no even and it is important for the line of the chair rail to be level to provide the finished look you want.

Step Two:
Now measure the wall for the lengths of chair rail that you will need and get ready to cut the molding. Corners will need to be mitered at a 90 degree angle so each piece of molding will be cut at a 45 degree angle. If you don’t have a miter saw an inexpensive miter box can be used to cut the right angles. Also, if a wall measurement is so long that two rails will be needed two pieces can be mitered together for a seamless look. A 45-degree angle is suggested for a smooth fit.

Step Three:
Now you are ready to attach your rail to the wall. Begin the installation with an inside corner and line the rail up with the bottom pencil line. Continually use the level to make sure that everything is level. Secure the rail with wood glue and then use nails for additional support. Place the nails in the thickest part of the rail so that it will not split.

Final Step, Finishing Touches:
For a finished look, use the nail set to recess the nail heads and cover the heads with wood filler. Then lightly sand the joints and puttied nail holes. Apply caulk that can be painted where the rail meets the wall. Closely examine the rail for any other gaps or holes and caulk them as well. After the caulk has dried sand any rough areas. Then you can paint or stain the chair rail.

Once the chair rail is done you can decide if you want to paint or wall paper the walls above or below the molding. I choose to paint the bottom portion of the wall and am quite pleased how it sets off the room.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your new room and think about another project before you go to sleep.