How to Install a Chair Rail

“Chair rail molding typically runs horizontally along walls at a height of 32 to 36 inches (the rule of thumb is to install it one-third of the way up the wall). Originally installed to protect walls from chair backs, today chair rail is commonly used to divide a wall visually. “

FH07NOV_CHARAI_01-4 chair rail molding

The original purpose of chair rail molding was to protect walls from being damaged by chair backs. Today, this chair rail molding is a fast way to stylishly define a dining room, living room or entry hall, especially when used to separate wallpaper from paint, or between two different colors of paint.

This article will show you how to install chair rail molding, with tips to make the job go faster and easier and with less wasted material. Chair rail is available in a variety of woods and styles, from inexpensive paint-grade pine to large, very expensive hardwood profiles. You can also make your own chair rail molding with standard trim or clear “1-by” material. The special-order cherry molding we used cost $5 per ft.

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