No nail chair rail

How to install chair rail: Beginner to expert in minutes

Get the details on how to install chair rail, how high a chair rail should be, and even installing chair rail without a nail gun. Become an instant expert.

Installing chair rail: Planning and supply list

Installing chair rail can add a touch of elegance to almost any room. Originally devised to protect walls from the backs of chairs, chair rail is now primarily used as a classy finishing touch. Typically installed with a hammer and nails or a nail gun, it’s also possible to glue it on.

If you’re wondering how high a chair rail should be, the general rule is about three feet from the floor to the top of the chair rail. Alternatively, if you are using it for protection, place it according to the height of your chairs.

To determine how much chair rail you need, measure the walls around the room at the height you will install the chair rail. Here are the tools and supplies you’ll want to have on hand:

  • chair rail moulding
  • tape measure, pencil, and chalk liner
  • level or laser level
  • mitre saw
  • hammer and nails or nail gun and compressor
  • construction adhesive

How to install chair rail with or without nails

Here are the details on how to install chair rail:

  1. Use a level and a straight edge or a laser level to draw a horizontal line around the room at the correct height. If using a laser, snap chalk lines corresponding to the laser lines.
  2. Use the mitre saw to cut a 45° angle on the first piece of chair rail and start it at a corner. Use a square cut as the chair rail ends into a door or window moulding.
  3. If you have a run longer than a full piece of trim, cut a 45 on the end. Then cut an opposite 45° angle on the next piece to continue the run. This will give a better appearance than simply butting the two pieces together.
  4. Install each piece as you cut it. Apply construction adhesive to the back of the chair rail and place it on the wall using your guidelines. If you wish to use nails, pre-mark the studs and nail through the chair rail into a stud.
  5. If you decide on the glue-only method, you’ll need to prop the moulding up or tape it in place until the glue dries. You could also use a nail or two to hold it but using good-quality glue will vastly reduce the number of nails you’ll need.

Once you’re done, let the glue dry completely, caulk the moulding and paint it.

If you need to remove old chair rail, run a razor knife along the top edge of the chair rail to cut through the caulk. Then use a pry bar to carefully pull it off the wall, placing a piece of wood under the heel of the pry bar to protect the drywall or plaster.

How to install chair rail with wainscoting

If there is wainscoting at the bottom of the wall, or if you are installing it at the same time as the chair rail, follow the same instructions as above. Choose a chair rail with a groove on the bottom to cover the top of the wainscoting. You’ll find many styles of chair rail designed for this purpose.

Did an existing piece of chair rail come loose? Try Loctite Epoxy Instant Mix 1 Minute to refasten it. Apply it to the back of your chair rail and press it into place. It will start to set within one minute. It bonds to wood, tile, fiberglass, most plastics, and many other surfaces. The unique nozzle mixes the two components as you push the plunger, so it comes out ready to use.