Can Chair Rails Be a Practical, Beautiful Addition to My Home?

Can Chair Rails Be a Practical, Beautiful Addition to My Home?

You’re sitting at home, enjoying a relaxing evening, when you see a beautiful living room on television. You’ve always wanted to do something with your living room to reflect your personality better, but you haven’t found anything special enough to match your vision. When you see this room on television, you feel excited by the beauty of the chair rail, and an idea pops into your head. You could make your living area even more visually stunning with this feature!

Chair rail moulding adds a decorative touch of elegance to any room. It is a chic design feature in modern times, but historically, it was applied in dining rooms to protect plaster walls from being dinged by chairs – hence the name. Today, chair rail moulding has been freed from its functional use and is used decoratively in every room of the home. Designers and architects use it along with panel mouldings to add dimension to otherwise flat walls or delineate wall color changes.

Adding chair rail moulding to a room doesn’t only add style; it also adds resale value to your home, as homebuyers report list it routinely as one of the top ten features home buyers want in a new home. When you browse our online catalog, you will notice that at The Moulding Company, we have plenty of chair rail options to satisfy the unique wants and needs of anyone looking to spruce up their space with this type of paneling.

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Where Should I Place Chair Rail in A Room?

To maximize the impact of a chair rail on a room, a contractor will install it at the ideal height for that space. There are no hard and fast rules about placement, but there are a few good guidelines for the standard design.

Our experts recommend installing it no higher than the lower third of the room, which means that the chair rail would be no higher than 32 inches from the floor for a room with a ceiling height of eight feet. The chair rail could be higher in rooms with higher ceilings but not higher than 48 inches.

It should catch the eye and add dimension to the room, but it should not make the space seem smaller. Installing a chair railing too high will visually shrink the room, while installing it too short will make the walls appear unbalanced.

In new construction, size the windows in a room to line up the lower edges with chair rails. If existing windows aren’t low enough to reach the chair rail, let the chair rail run below the windowsill. Don’t feel like you need to add more moulding.

Chair Rail and Wainscoting

Chair rail looks excellent as a stand-alone accent to a room, but it also looks fantastic when paired with wainscoting. Wainscot is a decorative paneling that usually covers the lower third of a wall, giving it texture and durable dimension. The top and bottom edges of wainscoting are blunt and need finishing. Chair rail or specially designed wainscot cap are ideal toppers for wainscot, giving it a unique finishing touch.

Chair Rail Designs

An orange wall with a white chair rail to separate it from the hardwood floors.Chair rail comes in a variety of styles, widths, and profiles. While selecting chair rail designs or styles is a matter of taste, there are a few guidelines to help make sure the railing accents and doesn’t overpower the room.

Here again, the height of the ceiling is key. For ceilings that are eight feet high, a chair rail that is no wider than four inches is best. Rooms with higher or vaulted ceilings can handle chair railing up to seven inches wide.

Popular moulding mill styles that would work well in any room and where a thinner rail is needed would be Gillette, Big Sky, Cody, Grey Bull, Byron, Beaded, Tallac, and Spokane. Going up to three or more inches wide are styles like Carmel, Lancaster, Kellogg, Ketchum, and Monterey.

Each of these mill styles has a different profile, which relates to how far they protrude into the room from the wall surface. Smaller rooms might benefit from a lower profile rail design than larger rooms. The choice is a matter of personal taste and is not as important of a decision as the placement of the railing.

One guide for selecting profile and width is knowing ahead of time whether there is any existing trim around windows and doors in the room or if you are planning to add it to your new construction. Ideally, it is better to make sure the chair rail is slightly thinner than the window casing. The chair rail style should also match or blend nicely with all door trim and window casing and not clash.

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Installing Chair Rail

Chair rail is one of the easier home improvement accents to install yourself. Here are the basic steps, but consulting with a knowledgeable contractor to do the work will ensure you get the result you want.

  1. Measure the length of walls you desire chair rail on to determine how much chair railing is needed.
  2. Near the corner of each wall, you will need to measure from the floor up to the height the chair rail will be installed and make a mark. Use a snap chalk line stretched along the wall between two corners at that height to mark the chair rail placement. You may also use a laser level to draw that line.
  3. Measure the length of the wall that will have the rail, and cut the railing to that length. Then, using a miter box or miter saw, cut the end that will enter a corner at a 45-degree angle such that this railing and the adjacent wall’s railing will fit nicely together in their shared corner.
  4. Use a stud finder to identify stud locations and nail into the studs when installing the chair rail. For a polished look, use finishing nails. When installing a wide railing, use two nails per stud, making sure that they are nicely spaced directly above the other.
  5. If there are spaces where the wall is not perfectly flat, which creates a gap between the wall and the chair rail, or if you need to clean up a corner joint, use painter’s caulk to fill in the gaps before painting the rail. (Check out the video below to learn more about preparing trim for installation.)

Upgrade Your Space with Chair Rail

Chair rail can be an excellent choice for upgrading any room of your home, whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor to do the work for you. Have the living room of your dreams come to life with all the beautiful moulding options we have available. Contact us at The Moulding Company today, browse our online catalog, or stop by one of our convenient California showrooms for more information about chair rail selection, designs, and installation!

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