How to Install Chair Rail Molding for a Staircase

Lead Image for How to Install Chair Rail Molding for a Staircase
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 120-250
What You'll Need
Miter saw
Nail gun, or nails and hammer
Chair rail molding
Spirit level
Tape Measure

Chair rail molding is a traditional form of wainscoting that is usually applied in rooms. As the name suggests, it was originally used to prevent chairs from touching the wall when they were pushed back, but in modern times they are mainly used for decoration. As the chair rail mold often runs around a room, it can be difficult to place it in open-plan homes, or in one which has stairs or doors in the room itself. Installing a chair rail molding into a staircase can be a solution to this problem, and can be easily managed with a few spare hours and some home improvement tools.

Measure the Space

If you are installing the chair rail molding into your staircase as a continuation of a larger plan, then you will be able to place the molding in line until it reaches the bottom of the stairs, so you know where to begin. If you want to install the staircase molding first, or would like to copy a molding pattern without connecting the two parts, you should use a tape measure to mark out the space you want. Ideally, you should install the chair rail molding 30 inches or so from the floor. Measure upwards, and mark the space where the first piece should be installed.

Fit the Piece of Chair Rail

Take your first piece of chair rail molding, and put the lower part onto space you just marked on the staircase wall. You then need to mark where the top of the chair rail goes, so that you have an idea where it should be placed. Using your tape measure, measure 30 inches from this point down to the stair, and then screw your chair rail into place using a nail and hammer, or a nail gun if you have one.

Repeat the Process

Carry on installing the chair rail as you go up the stairs, marking out where each piece should go. Don't screw in any more pieces as yet, as you will need to use your spirit level to make sure that the chair rail is going up the stairs at an even rate, rather than at odd angles. Place your chair rail on the wall using blu-tack or similar, and step away to ensure that it is all level.

Cut the Rail

As most chair rail molding is cut to fit a straight line, you may find that you have to cut down parts of the rail. When you have them fitted loosely together, mark on the wood where you need each to be cut, and then use a miter saw to cut the ends of the chair rail. You should then be able to nail all of the pieces together.