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Installing Chair Rail

Materials List
Chair Rail
Finish Nails
Tools List (click item to shop)
Claw Hammer
Nail Set
Miter Box
Coping Saw
Vinyl Wall Base Molding
Install Door Casing
Hanging Drywall

National Gypsum
GridMarx with install

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start

Installing a chair rail will create a dramatic addition to any room. A chair rail is basically a piece of molding that runs along the middle of your room's perimeter. Not only does a chair rail protect your walls from furniture, but it can be a creative addition to your interior design, as well.

Many people like to dress the walls above and below the chair rail differently. For example, you may wish to paint the sections of the wall different colors or wallpaper one section and paint the other, as shown above. You may also paint or stain the chair rail the same color or a different color as the background wall - it truly is versatile!

Skill Level & Time To Complete
In an average sized room:
• Beginner - 3 to 4 hours
• Intermediate - 2 to 3 hours
• Advanced - 1 to 2 hours

Always wear eye protection when working with sawing tools.

1. If you decide to paint or wallpaper the room that you are adding chair rail to, you should do those tasks before installing the chair rail. See our tutorials on these subjects here.
2. Your first task is to decide on the style of chair rail that you wish to install in your room. There are many styles available at your local hardware store. Choose one that caters to your individual taste.
3. Chair rails are typically installed at 32” above the floor. Measure this distance around the room and mark 32” above the floor at 2’ increments so that you can properly align the bottom of your rail.
4. Cut your first piece of molding square (90° cut) so that it mounts flush with both ends of your wall. Be sure that your measurements are precise, as mistakes will lead to gaps in your joints.
5. If you have walls that are especially long and cannot be completely fitted with a single length of railing, join two pieces together with a 45° cut as shown. This will prevent gapping from occurring.
6. You must cope your second piece of chair rail so that it will mount flush with this first piece. To join inside corners, use a pencil to mark the outline of the profile of your railing on the backside of the adjacent piece of railing.
7. Trim the railing with a coping saw keeping the molding steady in a vise. Be sure that you cut the molding exactly perpendicular to the face of the molding so that your joint is flush.
8. With your coped railing ready, measure the distance from your first molding to the next wall. Make your end cut square so that it ends flush to the next wall.
9. To join outside corners, use a miter box to cut the ends of the chair rails at 45° angles. Attach with nails and sink them with a nail set.
10. Continue coping, mitering, measuring and cutting until you have come full circle in your room.



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