You’ve got rail

How to install chair rail: Decorate and protect

Create an instant and elegant sense of style in any room by learning how to hang chair rail.

Chair rail: what is it for?

Believe it or not, the humble chair rail dates back through history to when houses were more cramped in dimension and the walls of smaller dining rooms needed protecting from being knocked by the back of a chair. Of course, these days the combination of roomier homes and fewer formal dining rooms has made chair rail less of a necessity.

Nevertheless, in recent years it has come back into fashion as an aesthetic enhancement that can bring classic style to bare and basic walls in any room, whether the rail is made from wood, MDF or polyurethane. Learning how to install chair rail molding isn’t difficult – anyone from beginner to expert can do it by observing the following steps.

How to install chair rail: What you need

  • Chair rail molding
  • Pencil or masking tape
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Saw and miter box
  • Construction adhesive
  • Wood or general filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulk and caulk gun

Loctite PL Premium Max is a premium construction adhesive specifically formulated for bonding all types of wood for interior or exterior construction projects. It forms a strong, durable bond to most building materials and multiple surfaces, making it ideal for putting up chair rail.

If your chair rail is made from another material, such as MDF, Loctite Power Grab Express Heavy Duty offers a professional strength bond with exceptional holding power for a wide variety of building materials. Paintable, non-flammable and with no strong solvent odor, it’s perfect for indoor and outdoor projects.

How to put up chair rail

  1. Before buying your chair rail, determine how much you’ll need by measuring around your walls at the height you want to install it. When determining how high a chair rail should be, the conventional rule is that it looks best at one third of the height of a room.
  2. Using the room measurements, use the saw and miter box to cut your chair rail into the lengths/sections needed, cutting a 45-degree angle (or angle appropriate to the particular corners in the room, such as a bay window) where required, except those ends that meet a doorframe, fireplace or wall.
  3. Using the sections of chair rail you’ve purchased, the level, tape measure and pencil, draw a guideline around the room at the height you plan to install it.
  4. Apply construction adhesive to the back of the first section of chair rail, place the bottom edge along the guideline and press against the wall. For sections of chair rail that meet with a miter joint, apply extra glue on the surface of the angle.
  5. When all the chair rail is installed, use the wood or general filler to fill in holes left, as well as any gaps. When it’s dry, use the sandpaper to sand the filler level with the surface of the chair rail. Apply a thin bead of caulk along the top and bottom edges – you can use any excess caulk when smoothing to fill in any holes instead of the wood filler.