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Install chair or picture rails

  • Difficulty: hammer hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : Week-end Project

Chair and picture rails are interior mouldings that have both functional and decorative appeal. The chair rail creates a buffer between the wall’s finish and the chair’s posts, so the backs of chairs, or other furniture, don’t damage the wall surface. For aesthetic purposes, a chair rail can cover the top edge of wainscoting or wall panelling. It can also be installed as a border to other wall decorations. Picture rails are useful for supporting pictures or simply as a decorative addition to the wall. They have to be mounted securely to carry the weight.

Both mouldings are easy to install with proper tools and a little patience.


Tools and materials required


  • Mitre saw or Mitre box with saw
  • Mitre saw cutting supports, or Saw horses
  • Caulking gun
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer or Power nailing gun
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Coping saw
  • Round file
  • Square


  • Chair rail
  • Wall panel adhesive
  • Paintable caulking
  • Finishing nails or Power brad Nailer

Before Assembly


Taking measurements is an essential step in order to determine the quantity of mouldings required and the exact length of each piece.
Calculate the length of each wall using a tape measure. Add 12" to 24" for each wall to account for losses resulting from angle cuts. If there are obstructions that prevent you from installing mouldings (i.e. windows, doors), don’t forget to subtract them from the total length.
For aesthetic reasons, opt for long mouldings. For example, in the case of a 14' wall, use a 16' moulding rather than two 8' mouldings. You will reduce the number of joints and enhance the look of your mouldings.


Chair and picture rails can be made from vinyl, painted wood or a medium density fibre (MDF). They can be 16’ long so it is important to set up supports at the height of the mitre saw to hold the mouldings in place. These could be sawhorses built up to height or adjustable supports with rollers.

A simple profile moulding can be cut with a mitre saw for the inside corners. More complex profiles will require a coped joint. Set up the mitre saw in a well-ventilated area outside the room to avoid dust.
Use a good-quality finishing blade with a minimum of 40 teeth, though 80 teeth is preferable since the more teeth a blade has, the cleaner the cut.


Before you start, allow the mouldings to acclimatize for 3 to 48 hours in the room where they will be installed.

Walls should be painted and wallpaper glued. You can paint or stain your mouldings in advance. You will simply need to touch them up a bit after, and cover the nail heads you’ve concealed with wood filler. This actually simplifies the job, because you won’t need to do any masking.

Mouldings can be fastened with finishing nails or a power nailer. Never use nails longer than 2" as you might hit a wire; 1 ½" nails are perfect for the job. For a cleaner, more professional job, use a brad power nailer. Pre-drill your nail holes so that mouldings do not split. Use a drill bit of a smaller size than the nails.

On a long wall, shorter pieces can maintain the look of continuity by mitering the joints rather than having them butt together.

Chair rails are installed on the wall at a height of between 32" to 36" above the floor, either as a single decorative border or placed with a parallel railing to add an accenting border. Picture rails are usually installed 10" to 16" below the ceiling, depending on the height of the ceiling.


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climatisation, ossature-du-sous-sol, beton-jointement, beton-escaliers, beton-surface, chauffage, longueur, capacite-liquide, ventilation, volume, poids

Helpful Information

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Chair and picture rails can dress up a wall.
Install chair or picture rails