To change the appearance of walls without repainting them, install chair rail. This decorative molding is applied to the wall at a height of between 24 and 48 inches from floor level. A chair rail runs horizontally along a wall, protecting the surface from scuffing or denting caused by the backs of chairs.
You will need:
• Miter saw
• Hand saw
• Chair rail molding
• Wood glue
• Wood filler
• 2 ½-inch finishing nails
• Pneumatic nailer
• Nail set
• Paintable caulk
• Small paintbrush
• Interior wall paint
• Tape measure
Step 1: Measure the wall length with the tape measure and use this figure to determine the length of molding you need.
Step 2: Measure the height of the wall and divide this figure by three to determine the height of the chair rail. This molding is typically installed at a point representing one-third of the wall length, measured from a floor. For example, if the room has an eight-foot high ceiling, the molding is usually placed 32 to 36 inches from a floor. For an easy way to determine the height, place the back of a chair against your wall and locate the point where the back hits the wall surface. After determining the height of the chair rail, use the pencil, level, and tape measure to create a level line on all walls. The level keeps the line straight even when floors are unlevel.
Step 3: Start at an inside corner, door, or window frame and cut the molding at a 90-degree angle with the miter saw. Cut one piece of molding to run the length of each wall. For each corner, create a 45-degree angled cut. If your wall is longer than the length of one piece of chair rail, miter two pieces together, creating opposite 45-degree angle cuts where the ends of the pieces meet.
Step 4: Starting with an inside corner, install the molding, lining the bottom up with the line drawn on your wall. Put wood glue on the molding and attach the wood to the wall, securing it with the pneumatic nailer loaded with finishing nails. Insert the nails into the highest sections of molding to prevent splitting. Place nails one above the other.
Step 5: If you had to miter two molding pieces together during Step 3, position the seam over a wall stud. This allows you to nail the end of each piece into a wood stud.
Step 6: With your nail set, recess the nail heads. Cover all nail holes with wood filler. Sand molding lightly to smooth the joints and nail holes.
Step 7: Apply a caulk bead where molding meets your wall. Fill in other holes and gaps with the caulk.
Step 8: To give the chair rail a finished look, paint it.