Introduction: Installing Chair Rail

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

Chair rail moulding is a great way to spruce up a room and protect its walls from wily and dangerous chair backs. If left to their own devices, chairs would dent up all of your walls and make you mad. It is therefor imperative that you keep those walls safe by placing a solid protective barrier at 36" to 42" up from the floor.

The chair rail was first discovered in Europe around the time that our early ancestors first learned to sit. What originated as a wooden plank stuck humbly (and often hastily) to the wall has evolved over time into a type of fancy-schmancy decorative molding. It is now customarily installed into the room of one's first newborn child, as babies are at the greatest risk of exposure to chairs. Typically, during the later stages of pregnancy, the mother-to-be will supervise the installation of chair rail while the dominant males of the family passionately discuss the accuracy of measurements.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:
- Enough chair rail molding to cover the perimeter of your room
- Miter saw
- Nail gun (preferable over hammer and nails)
- Adhesive caulk
- Caulk gun
- Tape measure
- A pencil
- A level
- Studfinder
- Window Glazing
- Sandpaper
- Paper towels

(You will also need paint if your molding comes unfinished. This Instructable does not cover painting molding, but you would want to do that before you move on to the next step.)

Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.

Step 2: Prepare the Wall

Move furniture away from the wall. Gape at the wall. Move onto the next step.

Step 3: Measure and Mark

Measure 36" - 42" up from the floor and make a mark. In our case we measured 40" up from the floor and used this as the height of the top of the molding.

Measure vertically in a few different spots and then using these measurements and a level, draw a horizontal line around the perimeter of the room (or walls you want to cover).

Step 4: Measure Some More

Measure the distance along the wall of the first section you would like to cover. Invariably there will be a door frame or window, which will determine the lengths of continuous sections of molding.

For instance, in this picture they are measuring the long distance between the door frame and wall and then the tiny distance between the wall and window frame. They are going to cut two pieces to make up the first continuous section.

Step 5: Cut the Molding

Cut the molding to your measurements using the chop saw. Where the molding meets, cut each piece at a 45 degree angle such that they meet at a right angle.

To do this, cut the end of one piece at 45 degrees, then rotate the next piece of molding so that the same face remains upwards, but it now appears "upside down." Make another cut. These two cuts should join smoothly at 90 degrees (see image notes).

Step 6: Studs

Find the wall studs using a stud finder. Mark lightly with pencil just above the horizontal line you drew earlier.

Step 7: Attach the Molding

Put caulk along the backside of the sections of molding and then stick it to the wall, such that the top of the molding is level with the horizontal line on the wall.

Use your nail gun to more permanently attach the molding to each wall stud. For each stud, place a nail to the upper and lower part of the molding.

When you are done fastening it, apply caulk evenly between the molding and the wall, as well as at the 90 degree joint. Before it dries, wipe it up with a wet paper towel, such that none is left on the wall and no extra is left on the moulding.

Step 8: Touch Up

If any nails are sticking out, set them into the molding with a nail set.

Once all of the nails are nicely set, touch up the nail holes with window glazing.

Step 9: Rinse Repeat

Repeat this process for the remainder of the room's perimeter. Your room should now be safe from chairs.

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