Tips for Installing Chair Rail & Wainscoting

Last week I mentioned that I would give a tutorial of how we installed our chunky chair rail & wainscoting.  However, since my husband did all the work, I don't quite feel competent to give a full tutorial, but I will give you lots of "tips" on what we did!  You will definitely want to use other sources (google & you tube searches) & look at lots of pictures to figure out exactly the look you are going for & how to achieve it.

To beef up the chair rail, we first added a four inch "base" piece.  (I don't know the technical term for this, but here's a picture so you know what to look for!)

{Base for Chair Rail}

To install this, we basically just marked out a straight line 39 inches above the floor.  We chose this height to match the height of the railings for our stairway.  We then, measured & cut each piece & nailed it in place with the top at the height of 39 inches.  (I recommend using a chalk line or pencil for drawing the straight line.  Don't use an ink pen like my husband did, because you'll have to prime over the ink in order to get your paint to cover it!)

Next, we measured & cut the chair rail.  Obviously, if you are installing it in a corner or on a crazy angle, you will have to measure & cut the angles accordingly.  For the exposed ends, we cut them at a 45 degree angle instead of just making a straight/flat cut.  Mark went ahead & nailed the chair rail into place, centered on the base rail that we had previously installed.  

To cap it off, you will take an extra piece of chair rail & cut it at a 45 degree angle.  Without moving the chair rail, you will bring your saw blade up to a 90 degree angle & cut again.  This should create a filler piece that you can glue onto the end of your chair rail giving it a nice, finished look.  I'm sure most of the above sounds pretty confusing.  You'll most likely want to google a better tutorial on how to do this!

Here's a picture of a capped off end:

{Capped Chair Rail}

One of the most challenging parts of this project was figuring out how to layout our wainscoting.  How much room should we have between the boxes?  How big should the boxes be?  How many boxes should we put on a certain wall?  How small is too small for a box?  It took a lot of head scratching & google searches & in the end, we just had to decide what we thought would be best.  We were really hoping there was something out there that just told us exactly how we should make our boxes!  (Those issues are really the whole reason for this post!  I'm hoping that explaining how we made our decisions will help those of you that are having similar issues!)

First, we needed to decide how much space should be below the chair rail, above the baseboard, & between the boxes.  According to our internet search, the spacing between boxes could be between 2 3/4 inches to 3 1/2 inches, but the spacing above & below the boxes could be up to 4 inches wide.  We decided to go with a 3 inch spacing all around.  (The boxes would start 3 inches below the chair rail, 3 inches above the baseboards, & have 3 inches between them.) 

Since we had determined our spacing, my husband took a scrap piece of our 3 inch chair rail & used it as a template to draw lines 3 inches below the chair rail, above the baseboards, & to create the spacing where the walls ended (corners, door frames, etc.).  This helped us visualize what some of our boxes would look like.

We were still scratching our heads trying to figure out the sizing of our boxes, but seeing the markings on the wall helped us make some decisions about this.  Let me preface this by saying that the boxes on each section of walls should be equal in size, but smaller walls will have smaller boxes, so not all the boxes in the entire space will be the same size.  We decided 32 inches was the widest box we would have.  Any boxes that would have to be over 32 inches in width would be made into two equal sized boxes spaced 3 inches apart.

Take this wall for example:

The wall is only 48 inches wide, & when we factored in our 3 inch spaces on each end of the box, we could have installed one 42 inch box.  Instead, since it was over our rule of 32 inches, we made two boxes that were 19 1/2 inches wide & put a three inch space between them.

To make a basic box, you will cut each piece of molding to the correct size at a 45 degree angle.  Then, glue them into place before nailing them into the walls.  The final steps are caulking around the boxes, filling nail holes, & painting! 

For longer walls, you will have to determine about how many boxes you want along the walls.  This wall was about 131 inches long.  We decided we wanted five boxes on the wall, which would mean we would have 6 three-inch spaces between the boxes.  We multiplied 6 times 3, which is 18 & subtracted it from the length of the wall.  (131- 18= 113)  Then we divided 113 inches by five boxes which meant each box would be 22.6 inches wide.

Some walls were just too small for boxes.  We didn't make any boxes that were smaller than 6 1/2 inches wide. 

{Too Small for Wainscoting}

{At 6 1/2 inches wide, the box on the right is our smallest}

Here are some additional pictures of our wainscoting in tricky areas of our entryway:

{Wainscoting on an Angled Wall}

{Wainscoting on a Triangular Wall}

For this triangular shaped wall, we measured the length & determined how many boxes we thought would look good, making sure they were under our maximum width of 32 inches, & equal in size.  Because of this criteria, the middle box has an extra slanted piece to it.

{Up the Stairs to the Landing}

{Landing to the Top of the Stairs}

Because this wall is broken up by the door, it was okay for the boxes on each side of the door to be slightly different in size.

Well, I hope this post gives you some answers & doesn't leave you scratching your head!  If nothing else, maybe the pictures will give you some ideas on how to add wainscoting on the tricky areas of your walls!

You can see more of the entryway here.

I'll be sharing here:



The Entryway

The entryway is finished!  In the future, we would love to darken the oak banisters, add hardwood floors, crown molding, new lighting, & a beautiful leaded glass wood door, but for now, we are calling it done!


When you walk in the front door, you see my $10 Goodwill Mirror, $15 Craigslist Dresser, & Entry Art

{Entry Art}


Click here to learn how we dressed up the entry with chunky chair rail & wainscoting.


We added more chair rail & wainscoting in the upstairs hallway, along with a gallery wall of family photos.  Right now, the pictures are black & white, color, & sepia.  We made this gallery wall from framed pictures that came from various rooms in our old house, which explains why they are all different colors!  I do plan on updating the pictures & changing them over to all sepia in the near future!

{Gallery Wall}

From the upstairs looking down, you can see the Canela Tree, Black Front Door, Coat Hook, Bench, & Painted Rug.



And, just to remind you, this is how the space started out:

Sharing here:

Weekend Bloggy Reading               Stuff and Nonsense    

Thrifty Decor Chick

Seeing Stripes

After making two bad rug purchases for the entryway, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands (literally).  My budget didn't really allow me to buy any of the beautiful geometric rugs I had been drooling over on the Internet (especially since it would be the third rug I would buy in two years!).

Then, one day while on Pinterest, I found several awesome painted rug tutorials & knew it was the perfect solution to my problem!

I ended up buying a $40 4x6 Erslev rug from Ikea.


After unrolling the rug, I gave it a quick vacuum & rub down with the iron.  Then, I began taping a striped pattern on the rug.  Because of the size of the rug, I made each end stripe nine inches long & the six stripes in the middle ten inches long.  I also made sure to place the tape for the stripes on the inside sections of the stripes that were not getting painted.  That way, all the stripes would be even & allow for the extra inch or so of the masking tape.


Painting was the trickiest part of the process.  I intended on using acrylic craft paint mixed with textile medium.  Unfortunately, I didn't buy enough & didn't want to wait to finish the rug until I could get more supplies.  Instead, I decided to use some leftover paint from the living room mixed with water.  The mixture was about 2 parts paint to 1 part water.  I rolled on two coats & then removed the tape.


I am pleased with the way it turned out, but I have to admit that I'm terrified for it to get dirty!  It's small enough that it could fit in the washer, but since I used latex paint on it, I'm not exactly sure how it would look afterwards.  Since the paint doesn't seem to come out of my "paint clothes" I'm pretty sure it will be okay to wash!  So, do you have any insight on this situation?  I'd love to hear it!

A Place to Hang Your Hat

(or more likely, your coat!)

What happens when you take a $3 picture frame with mat from Wal-Mart & a 50% off knob from Hobby Lobby?


You end up with functional artwork and...


a place to hang your coat!

Eight Years Ago...

Eight years ago (tomorrow) I walked into my doctor's office for a routine pregnancy check.  I was almost 39 weeks pregnant & not expecting any exciting news, knowing that first time moms usually deliver later than their due date.  With a sound of concern in his voice, my doctor said, "I'm going to check you again."  The sound in his voice made me nervous & I asked if everything was okay.  His response:  "You're seven centimeters dialated & you're smiling!  You need to get to the hospital!"

On my way home (Yes, I drove myself home before going to the hospital!) I called the school where my husband teaches, told them of my situation, & asked if I could speak to him.  When the secretary told him over the intercom that his wife was on the phone, Mark questioned aloud to his students, "I wonder why my wife is calling me during class?" to which they responded, "Maybe she's in labor!".  By that time, a sub had arrived at the door & Mark took off running down the hall, not even bothering to pick up the phone!  He called me back on his way out the door & I gave him the news.

We met up back at home, packed a bag, & headed to the hospital, after Mark persuaded me to stop cleaning up, as he did not want to deliver this baby at home! 

A few hours later, after a relatively easy, pain-free labor (Yes, I got an epidural at 10 centimeters because I was terrified of pushing this baby out of my body!) Ezekiel Allen arrived safely in my arms. 

It is so hard to believe that was eight years ago!  I remember it like it was yesterday!  The past eight years have definitely been full of challenges & lots of learning experiences (on both our part & Zeke's) but I wouldn't trade them for the world.  Okay, I take that back. 

After nearly four years of a healthy childhood, Zeke suddenly began having seizures.  It was absolutely terrifying, & we thought we were going to lose him a few times.  He was diagnosed with epilepsy & has to take nine pills a day just to control the seizures.  (It sounds like a lot, but we are very grateful that it's not worse.)  Anyway, if I could keep my Zeke, I would give those seizures back in a heartbeat!  We are still praying that he will grow out of his epilepsy, which is definitely a possibility.

The birthday boy has chosen to celebrate with a family party & a trip to an indoor waterpark!  (Which is exactly where this eight month pregnant lady wants to be seen!  Ha!  The things we do for love!)

Here is my handsome eight year old in his most recent school picture:

Happy Birthday Zeke!  (You know, in case he is ever perusing the internet & happens to find this post!)

All Dolled Up!

So, I mentioned in this post that my daughter's dollhouse has gone through a couple of transformations since I re-finished it in the spring.
This is what it looked like before I started working on it:


Then I gave it a makeover after being inspired by a dollhouse in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, and transformed it to this:


Unfortunately, the next transformation this dollhouse went through was not that pretty!  During some episodes of rough play, the dormer got knocked off, the door broke, the flower pots got broken, & most of the flowers in the window boxes went missing! 

I glued the dormer back on, replaced the flowers & pots, & bought a new door.  When I installed the new door (I'm totally making it sound like it was a real door, when in reality, I just glued it on!) I realized it was shorter than the opening.  To fill the leftover space, I constructed some steps made from some leftover trim.

This is how it turned out:

{After the After!}

Much better!

Hope you had a great weekend!

2012 Home Goals

Here are the projects I hope we can complete on our home this year...
1. Finish the entry way.  We're in the home stretch!  The wainscoting & painting are done!  I just need to add a rug & some accessories, so hopefully I'll finish it up soon!  See the reveal here.

{Entry Before}

2. Finish dining room.  Again, we are almost there!  The painting & wainscoting are finished.  I just need to find fabric for the curtains (which is proving to be difficult) & add some accessories!  See it here.

{Dining Room Before}

3.  Turn the guest bedroom into a nursery.  You would think that I would have started on this, but nope!  I need to paint, get a new light fixture, switch out some furniture, add curtains & accessorize.  I'm hoping to have this done by the end of February, but we shall see!  See the reveal here.

{Nursery Before}

4. Decorate the living room.

{Living Room Before}

5. Paint & decorate master bedroom.

{Master Bedroom Before}

6. Paint & accessorize master bathroom.

{Master Bathroom Before}

7. Paint & add storage to first floor powder room.  See the reveal here.

{Powder Room Before}

8. Redecorate kids' bathroom.

{Kids' Bathroom Before}

9. Modify desk to create built-ins & update the study.

{Study Before}

10. Stack washer & dryer & add storage to our tiny laundry/mudroom.

{Laundry Before}

11. Accessorize patio under deck.

{Patio Before}

I would love to see everything crossed off this list by the end of the year, but realistically, it probably won't be.  (I'm starting to realize my husband might be right when he says my goals are often unrealistic!)  He actually mentioned the possibility of beginning to finish the basement this summer, so maybe we'll add more to the list! 

So, what are your home goals for the year?

Sharing at The Nester


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