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How To Install a Chair Rail

If you're tired of rubbing scrapes out of the paint on your wall, install a decorative and functional chair rail.


  • TIP: "Measure twice, cut once" is always a good rule of thumb.
  • Step 1: Attach the rail to the wall with finish nails. Nail into the wall studs, and use the level to make sure it's straight.
  • Step 2: Continue around the room. Fill the countersunk nail holes with putty or paint the rail. Use caulk to close gaps between the rail and the wall.
  • FACT: The American hardwood supply has almost doubled in the last 50 years.
  • Step 3: Pencil the profile of the first rail on the backside of another piece of rail. Clamp the new rail in a vise and cut the penciled profile with a coping saw. Then fit it into the corner to meet the first rail for a seamless fit.
  • Step 4: Prime the molding, and then cut the longest piece at 90 degrees on each end to fit flush against the wall and into each corner. If you need two pieces, miter them at 45 degrees so the fit is seamless.
  • Step 5: Clear obstructions from the area where you will be mounting the chair rail, and then use the tape measure and level to mark the height for the rail.
  • Step 6: Use the stud finder to locate and mark the wall studs. Then mark the height on the wall every 2 feet around the room.
  • TIP: Chair rails are usually 32 to 36 inches from the floor.
  • Step 7: Select a chair rail molding that matches your home's decor.

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