How to Paint a Chair Rail

Two Methods:Painting Chair Rail MoldingPainting a Faux Chair Rail

A chair rail is a piece of molding made of wood, plastic, or composite placed on a wall at the top of a chair. It is designed to protect walls from damage. Updating paint on a chair rail can bring out this feature in a room, as well as change the look of the room all together. Chair rails may also be painted on a wall without the presence of wood to give a room a fresh look without the expense of purchasing the chair rail molding. Learn how to paint a chair rail to maximize a room's appearance.

Method 1
Painting Chair Rail Molding

  1. 1
    Inspect the chair rail molding you wish to paint to determine whether it is wood, composite, or plaster.
  2. 2
    Repair any damaged areas in the chair rail with the appropriate repair product. For example, wood chair rail nicks may be filled with wood filler product and sanded until smooth.
    • Plaster chair rails may require the services of a professional for repair.
  3. 3
    Clean and dry the chair rail.
  4. 4
    Choose a color of paint for the chair rail and for the walls to give a room a whole new look. Take into account the color of the crown molding and baseboard to create a cohesive look.
    • Darker colors are often painted below the chair rail to ground the room.
    • Lighter colors above the chair rail will open up the room and it a larger feeling.
    • Chair rails are usually painted a complementary color that offsets the 2 wall colors. Light or dark tones depend on the look you are trying to create.
  5. 5
    Paint the walls above and below the chair rail. Allow the walls to dry completely at least 24 to 72 hours before moving on to the next step.
  6. 6
    Run painter's tape along the top and bottom edges of the chair rail.
  7. 7
    Use a narrow paintbrush or small roller to paint a thin layer of color on to the chair rail.
  8. 8
    Allow the paint to dry, and then repeat with thin layers until the desired color and coverage is achieved.
  9. 9
    Remove the painter's tape gently from the wall.

Method 2
Painting a Faux Chair Rail

  1. 1
    Decide the height of the chair rail you wish to create. You may want a chair rail situated at waist height or the height of a chair.
    • Lay a piece of tape on the wall at the height you are considering, and stand back to determine if it is the look you want.
  2. 2
    Mask all trim that will not be painted with painter's tape.
  3. 3
    Clean and dry the wall.
  4. 4
    Paint the wall a base color. This will end up being the color of the chair rail, so make sure you match it to the color of the other trim in the room.
    • Apply several coats to get the desired coverage you want.
    • Allow the coat of paint to dry completely,.
  5. 5
    Measure from the floor up to the desired height and mark the wall with a pencil.
  6. 6
    Use a regular or laser level to make a straight line across the wall.
  7. 7
    Use painter's tape to cover the area to become the chair rail. An ideal width for a chair rail is 2 inches (5.08 cm). You may use tape the same width, or you can use multiple strips to get the desired width of chair rail.
  8. 8
    Paint the upper and lower walls the colors you have chosen.
  9. 9
    Remove the painter's tape to reveal the chair rail.

Things You'll Need

  • Chair rail repair product
  • Paint
  • Painter's tape
  • Narrow paintbrush or roller
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Regular or laser level

Article Info

Categories: Painting and Other Finishes