How to Install a Sophisticated Chair Rail

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


Sophisticated Chair Rail

From: Design on a Dime

Sophisticated Chair Rail

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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.


From: Design on a Dime

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.


From: Design on a Dime

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.


From: Design on a Dime

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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