How to Install a Sophisticated Chair Rail

Transform the look of your wall with a simple, yet elegant chair rail.


Sophisticated Chair Rail

Materials and Tools:

1 sheet of 3/4-inch MDF
wood glue
1 1/4-inch long, 18-gauge finish nails
gel stain (MinWax gel stain, Ebony)
rags for stain
water-based polyurethane (MinWax)
2 1/2-inch long, 15-gauge finish nails
wood putty (to match stain color)
table saw or skill saw
router with 3/8-inch half-round bit and 1/4-inch rounded spade bit
nail gun
paint roller with a small sponge roller pad
24-inch level
12-inch miter saw
putty knife


1. Cut strips of 3/4-inch MDF to widths of 1-3/4-inch and 5-1/4-inch using a table saw or a skill saw.


2. For the smaller pieces, attach a 3/8-inch half-round bit to the router to create a bull nose on one edge. Switch the router to a 1/4-inch rounded-spade bit and set it to cut 5/16-inch deep grooves into the larger pieces of MDF (two equally spaced grooves at the top and one at the bottom) for decorative purposes.

3. Using wood glue and 18-gauge nails, attach the smaller pieces onto the top and bottom of the larger pieces to form a cap. The overall piece should now resemble a "C" from the back. Be careful that the glue does not seep out between the top and bottom because it will prevent the MDF from staining evenly.


4. Apply gel stain to the pieces with rags wiping off any excess. Finish by applying two coats of water-based polyurethane with a sponge roller.

5. With a level, measure the wall and cut pieces at a 45-degree angle in the corners with a miter saw.


6. Attach the rail with paneling adhesive to the wall and secure in place with 2-1/2-inch finish nails. Fill holes with wood putty to match the stain.

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