Chair rails protect a wall from damage by contact with the backs of chairs. They also provide a decorative accent and can be used to separate two types of surface or colors. Homeowners and home decorators use molding to form a chair rail. The molding may be either wood or composite materials. Plastics and composite materials generally are purchased pre-finished, while wood molding requires painting or staining. Adhesive often is used to bond chair rails to walls.
Things You'll Need
- Grease-fighting soap
- Tape measure
- 240-grit sandpaper
- Construction adhesive
- Caulking gun
Wash the walls with soap or detergent to remove any oils or dirt. Adhesives bond more readily to clean, oil-free surfaces.
Measure and mark the walls where the chair rails will be installed. Draw a light pencil line to serve as a guideline.
Sand above and below the guideline with 240-grit sandpaper to slightly roughen the surface and give the adhesive a place to grip.
Measure, cut and dry fit the molding to the wall to ensure the correct fit and height.
Squeeze a bead of construction adhesive along the guideline, using a caulking gun. If you are using a tube of construction adhesive, squeeze nickel-size dots every 1/2 inch along the guideline.
Position the chair rail over the construction adhesive and press it into place. Firmly rub a rag over the chair rail to press it in place. Move the rag along the entire chair rail to ensure good adhesion. Construction adhesive dries quickly, so it's important to make any necessary adjustment immediately. Remove excess adhesive with a damp rag as soon as you see it above or below the chair rail.
Place braces from the floor to just under the bottom edge of the chair rail. The braces should be set at a 45-degree angle every two to four feet. Use 2-by-4 lumber or metal poles to serve as the braces. Allow the braces to remain in place until the construction adhesive dries completely, generally 15 to 30 minutes.
Tips & Warnings
- Work in a well-ventilated area when applying construction adhesive.
- Wear gloves and safety glasses when installing chair rails.
- "Walls and Ceilings"; Time Life Editors; 1982
- "Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants"; Edward M. Petrie; 2006