How to Install Picture Rail Molding

Why make holes in the wall when you can hang photos and art this way?
Wainscoting Used as Bedroom Shelf

Wainscoting Used as Bedroom Shelf

Related To:

Picture rail molding provides both visual interest and a way to hang pictures without making numerous holes in the wall. To determine how much you need, decide how high you want to install the molding and measure the perimeter of the room at that height, and then add an additional 10 percent to the measurement. Note that picture rail molding is typically installed within 12 inches of the ceiling and shouldn't be installed above any window or door casings, so be sure to subtract those areas when you're measuring.

To install the molding, follow these instructions:

Materials and Tools:

picture rail molding
2- or 3-inch all-purpose screws
wood putty or sealant
paint and paintbrush or stain and materials
drill with magnetic Phillips bit and countersink bit
stud sensor
coping saw
miter saw or miter box and handsaw
measuring tape
safety glasses


1. Paint or stain the molding and allow it to dry thoroughly before beginning installation.
2. Transfer the measurements of your room to the molding and cut the pieces to length in straight (90-degree) cuts.
3. Use a stud sensor to find the wall studs all the way around the room. Mark them lightly at the level at which you plan to install your molding.
4. Hold a piece of molding in place and transfer the stud measurements to it. Repeat the process with the molding for the opposite wall.
5. Using a countersink bit, drill pilot holes in the molding at the stud marks.
6. Use a level to create an even line all the way around the room at the height you chose for your molding. Use this line as a guide to keep your molding level.
7. Attach the two pieces of molding to the wall with screws at least 2 inches long. The longer the screw, the more weight your molding will be able to bear. Be sure the screws are driven into the studs.
8. To create the corners, you'll need to cope the ends of the two remaining molding pieces to fit over the two pieces you already installed. To do that, miter-cut the ends in a 45-degree angle, and then, with the front of the trim facing you, use a coping saw to trim away under the molding at an angle.
9. Use a file to smooth rough edges.
10. Dry-fit the molding and trim it as necessary to ensure a tight fit.
11. When the end pieces fit well, transfer the stud measurements on the walls onto the molding and drill pilot holes as before.
12. Attach remaining pieces of molding to the wall.
13. Cover the screw holes with putty or sealant. When it's dry, sand the rough spots and touch up the molding with paint as necessary.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Install Crown Molding

Install crown molding to add visual interest and value to your home.

How to Kill Mold

Killing mold is a dirty job, but the right tools can help you wipe it out for good. Check out these tips for using the best cleaners to solve your fungus problem.

How to Remove Black Mold

Learn how to remove black mold safely and effectively.

How to Install French Drains

Divert groundwater from the basement or foundation with the help of gravel and fabric.

How to Repair Crown Molding

Cut a replacement piece to match and no one's the wiser.

How To: Installing a Fire Pit

A backyard gets more warm and hospitable with a stone firepit.

How to Install Snap-Together Laminate Flooring

Installing snap-together flooring allows anyone with moderate DIY skills to create a beautiful new laminate floor.

How to Install a Planked Wood Ceiling

Add architectural detail and rustic, farmhouse charm to a builder basic bedroom with a tongue-and-groove planked wood ceiling. This is also a great way to cover up dated, cottage cheese ceilings or a sloppy drywall job.

How to Install Underlayment and Laminate Flooring

These step-by-step instructions will show you how to install underlayment and flooring to get beautiful laminate flooring in any room.

How to Make and Install an Outdoor Chalkboard

Add a weather-friendly chalkboard to your outdoor space for inspired drawing or score-keeping on family game night.


Island Life

6:30am | 5:30c

Island Life

7am | 6c

Island Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Flip or Flop Atlanta

1:30pm | 12:30c

Flip or Flop Atlanta

2:30pm | 1:30c

Flip or Flop Atlanta

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Flip or Flop

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop Vegas

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Flip or Flop Vegas

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Flip or Flop

3:30am | 2:30c

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.