How to Install a 2 Piece Chair Rail

The chair rail has grown past its original purpose of stopping chairs and other furniture from hitting the walls. It is now more of an aesthetic choice that separates wallpaper from actual paint or different colors in the paint. The 2-piece version usually has intricate moldings that need to be installed one part at a time. You’ll need a few things to help you through the process and of course the right tools for the job.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Electric saw or any special wood saw with fine teeth
  • A level
  • Sandpaper
  • A measuring device (measuring tape)
  • A jig to hold railing about to be cut
  • Finishing nails and hammer
  • Pencil
  • Wood glue (optional)

Step 1 - Measure the Height Needed

Start by deciding the height that you want your chair rail to be at. You can do this by positioning a chair besides the wall to see where it hits or just judge it for yourself from a purely aesthetic standpoint. Once you’ve decided on the exact height, take measurements from the bottom up across the room and mark the spots using your pencil. Continue to do so for every wall that will have chair rail applied to it.

Step 2 - Apply the Railing

Using your saw, cut the first piece of railing at a 90-degree angle. Set it at the measured height starting from a corner of a wall. To join 2 railings, cut both of them at a 45-degree angle and create a seamless joining. Use the sandpaper to even out any rough edges. Use wood glue to join pieces together for extra strength, and then use finishing nails and the hammer to secure the rails into position. Always check for a perfect fit before nailing the chair rails into place.

Step 3 - Corner Joints

When joining two pieces in a corner of the room, lay down a piece horizontally on the ground facing up. Position the other rail vertically on top and using your pencil, trace the profile of the vertical rail on the horizontal one. Using your saw, cut the marked shape using extra precision on your cuts. After that, position them on the wall for a perfect flush corner fit. Use wood glue if you require extra strength.

Step 4 - Applying the Second Piece

Once you’ve laid out the first piece all across the room, put the second piece on top. Use very small finishing nails to attach the molding to the first layer. Use a smaller hammer for this as it is a more delicate job. Be careful not to damage any of the molding. Again you can use wood glue for extra support by applying it in the corners of the molds. There are different kinds of chair rails, if yours comes with a snap-in support between the 2 pieces then you will not need to nail or glue them down.

Step 5 - Finishing Touch

Using a wet rag, clean off any residue glue or paint marks. Give the railings and molding a good polish using a wood or surface cleaner. Backing away from the walls will help you spot any problem areas.