Tutorial: A chair rail tale

Oy.  This was a doozie and this picture of Shanna says it all.

Our first attempt at chair rail ended up looking something like the picture below and this actually looks tame compared to the eight foot piece of chair rail we blew through trying to figure out ANGLES!  Angles are now my enemy, my brain works in straight lines only I have come to realize.  I thought adding chair rail to my staircase would be a cinch.  Bing, bang, boom, three or four mitered cuts and voila.  Bahahahaha, did I have another thing coming.

I started by creating a painters tape template just to get a visual.  This went all the way up the stairs so I could get a feel for the height I liked and moulding ideas for the bottom half.

Shanna and I pretty much got hung up immediately, we spent two hours cutting as many angles as you can imagine just hoping to stumble on the angle we needed.  We were praying for a miracle that never came.  We watched you tube for help and read articles and to our complete surprise, no one had a tutorial on how to get these angles to meet up at the top and bottom landing.

I have to give a lot of credit to my co-worker who is pretty handy and he helped me draw out pictures that I could use at home.  Once I had the stairs drawn out:

The easiest thing to do to find the angles for the chair rail is to make this diagram on the wall.  Lay the chair rail across the vertical line where you want the two chair rail pieces to meet.  Our angle ended up being 22.5" mitered cuts, funny we couldn't figure that out since that's common cut on the saw!

You can see it a little better here.  The chair rail will cross over where you see the dotted line and then you can just draw that line directly onto the chair rail:

You will do the same things at the top landing to find that angle as well:

Once you find the angle to cut the long straight piece going up the stairs, the small boards for the landing are much easier.  They are cut on the same degree but you will have to move the miter saw to the other side so the two angles match up. 

I also made a smaller version of the chair rail once I figured the angled cuts that I needed to make to help me keep the visual in my head and use the smaller pieces as guides when I kept running to the basement to cut the new pretty pieces of chair rail.

If I can give one piece of advice it would be to practice.  Its OK to mess up and you may have to buy a piece that will be come scrap just so you can practice but this is much better than nailing something to the wall and the realizing it's wrong.

After all the measuring it was time to get started.  We literally made four cuts to fit all the pieces together.  We used construction adhesive and painters tape to hold the chair rail in place while the glue dried.  This was originally the only thing we had planned to use to keep this attached to the wall because this is a cement party wall.  We weren't sure nails would actually go through the cement. 

Apparently my walls are nowhere close to flat so we had to try nails to hold everything close to the wall.  The glue kept separating and leaving very large gaps:


Finally!  All of it is up so now you can caulk any gaps and cracks.

Once the caulk has dried you can paint-yahoo!  I chose a white semigloss that matches my trim.  I wanted the illusion of beadboard and I liked the contrast against the rice grain colored walls. 

Here is it with the new mirror :)

You will have another after as soon as I hang my Ikea Ribba frames up the staircase.  I have decided that I am not going to make moulding boxes to avoid over-doing the framed look.  As always, stay tuned!

If you have any questions about angles or how we did this project let me know, I am happy to help!

See you swoon,


  1. OMG that pic is HILARIOUS, Shanna. Looks great-- and I gotta say you ladies manage to look tough and cute at the same time in your work clothes. Quite a feat!

    Also, as an aside, I blame Jamie's "What Jamie Would Wear" lists for inspiring me to buy $58 sweatpants from Anthropoligie. It's your fault, not my lack of will power!

  2. Julia, that picture was born of true frustration. Jamie warned me that math would be involved. I am not a math person. I am the opposite of a math person.

  3. Hi Julia! This really was a tough one but we made it work and were so proud of ourselves! Glad you like it :)

    You just made me laugh out loud, it's ok, you can blame WWJW for those sweatpants but I bet they feel amazing on (I know I am not helping the shopping habit, I am a very bad influence!)

  4. SO SO SO SO pretty. It makes such a huge difference! Great job girls!

  5. I have been contemplating this project and might actually tackle it (eventually) after seeing your effort. I am definitely bookmarking your page! (and I LOVE sweatpants.)

  6. When you use a genuine service, you will be able to provide instructions, share materials and choose the formatting style. futura zero gravity recliner

  7. We believe in providing a top-quality digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, FL, businesses can trust with their digital growth. You can get the most out digital marketing agency jacksonville

  8. 메이저공원 토토검증업체 메이저사이트추천 Secrets - What craps dealers don't want you to know!