I’d like to update my living room by adding chair rail molding. Is this hard to do?
Chair rail molding is an easy way to make a room look different. Besides the chair rail, you can use the same material to create a “box”, or “picture rail” design, in whatever dimensions you choose.
For this project, you will need a miter saw. It is much easier if you have a powered one, which can be rented from most of the larger hardware stores, or a rental store. However, you can purchase a non-powered miter box and saw for around $15, but, if you have to make a lot of cuts, you’ll wish you had rented the powered saw.
Begin by measuring your room to see how many feet will be needed. Chair rail molding will come in various lengths, but it is always best if you can use one piece for the entire wall. For example, if a wall is 14’ long, buy a piece slightly longer than this, such as 15’. This way, there won’t be any seams and the outcome will look nicer. Usually, 16’ is the longest piece available, unless specially ordered.
If the molding is to be painted, it is much easier to prime and paint the molding before installing it. The same is true if the molding is to be stained and finished with polyurethane. Once the molding is installed, you should only need slight touch-ups.
Begin by measuring up the wall to anywhere between 32” and 36”, whichever height looks best. If the molding is to prevent chairs from hitting the wall, take this into account. Mark the chosen height with a pencil on both ends of the wall, then stretch the chalk line between the two marks for your target line.
Next, use the stud finder to see where the studs are. You’ll want to nail the molding into the studs. A small piece of painter’s tape or a light pencil will be fine.
Take the first piece of molding and make a 45 degree cut, taking into account whether this begins at an inside corner or outside corner. For an inside corner, the part of the molding that is away from the wall will be the part that is cut off. For an outside corner, it is the part of the molding that is against the wall that will be cut off. If this wall will have two pieces of molding, you’ll want to make another 45 degree cut where the two pieces will join, so that they fit together nicely.
After the first piece is cut, make sure the second piece is cut at the appropriate angle to fit with not only the first piece, but the third piece as well (the end of the 2nd piece). Before you cut each piece, make sure you have the exact measurement and the appropriate inside or outside cut. It is easy to get confused here. Only make the cuts as you go. Don’t measure and cut each piece before installing.
Once the molding is up, use a nail-set to drive the nails into the wood, so they won’t show. Use spackle to cover the nail holes, and then caulk the top and bottom edges. You’re then ready for paint touch up. If the wood is stained, don’t use spackle. Instead, buy a stain filler of the same color as the stain.
Be certain to take before and after pictures so you can show your friends, but be aware! You may find yourself invited over to their house to do the same thing!