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How to Build a Wainscot Picture Rail

Learn how to install wainscoting and cap it off with a picture shelf.

Materials and Tools:
white beadboard
brick molding
4" strip of medium-density (MDF) board
circular saw, jig saw and a table saw
T-square
construction adhesive and wood glue
nail gun
paint, paintbrush and painter's caulk
laser level and standard level

Steps:
1. Set a laser level to the desired height of the wainscoting. Measure from the laser line down to where the baseboard will fit, based on the height of the wainscoting boards.

2. Cut beadboard to desired height using the circular saw.

3. Mark the wall with the chalk line at the point where the top of the chair rail will sit.

4. Remove your old baseboard. If you are reusing the same baseboard, score the top of it with a utility knife to separate the paint from the wall. This will help prevent the paint from peeling off the baseboard. Use a crowbar to help pull the baseboard off the wall.

5. Many stores sell baseboard that has been precut with notch (rabet cut) in the back that allows the wainscoting panel to easily fit in behind it. If you are using the pre-notched baseboard, cut it to size with a miter saw and attach it to the wall with wood glue and a nail gun.

6. Use the jig saw to cut out areas where the windows and outlets are located on the wall. Use a T-square to ensure straight lines.

7. Affix beadboard to the wall using construction adhesive. Place the level horizontally and vertically against the first piece of wainscoting to make sure it's straight and level. When it is level, nail the wainscoting to the wall. (Nail into the studs whenever possible.)

8. Construct a picture rail to top off the wainscoted wall by first using a table saw to bevel a piece of brick molding. Cut at a 45-degree angle so that it sits flush with the beadboard.

9. Use wood glue to adhere a four-inch piece of MDF flat across the top of the piece of brick molding. Secure with a nail gun. The picture rail should resemble crown molding.

10. Cap off the top of the beadboard with the picture rail by adhering it to the wall with construction adhesive and a nail gun.

11. Hide all seams and nail holes by filling them in with painter's caulk.

12. Once caulk has dried, paint the picture rail to match the prepainted white beadboard. You can paint the entire wainscoted area, or you may look for prepainted beadboard to save an additional paint expense.

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