Wainscoting, Chair Rails, and Paint for a quick and cheap new look

I found yet another great article on RemodellingGuy.net about wainscoting.  Read it here, or scroll down for the complete article.

Do you want to make an absolutely stunning difference in any room of your home in less than two days, start to finish? I love big differences made quickly! And this project will do it for sure!

One of the most commonly asked questions from people looking for chair rail ideas is “what is the proper chair rail height?”. I answered in the previous post that the best height is around 30″ – 34″ above the floor for most rooms, but that there isn’t a widely accepted “correct” height. But what if you put it higher? What if you move way up the wall, say to 60″ – 64″ off the floor?

I want to demonstrate just how dramatically the act of changing out some baseboards and door casings and installing simple bead-board wainscoting will change any room of your house. Let’s get started!

ScreenHunter 08 Mar. 29 19

Above, we have a standard room. It has a couple of nice features already with some hardwood floors and a pair of French doors, but other than that it’s bare bones. (Don’t you wish you’re room were just as empty! Moving all the stuff is half the job!)

ScreenHunter 09 Mar. 29 20

If you want to do a very quick job, you could do only what I’ve done here in this image. Ive replaced the baseboard with a 5.25″ Primed Base, and added a 2.25″ Chair Rail installed at a height of 33″ above the floor (to the top).

This room has 8′ ceilings. If you have higher ceilings you might raise the chair a little bit, but not much. I also replaced the door and window casing with something with a little bit more detail in the profile. These things made a huge difference! Wouldn’t you agree? Let’s kick it up another notch:

ScreenHunter 11 Mar. 29 20

Now I’ve gone from a 2.25″ Chair Rail to a custom moulding which combines a standard profile “Howe” casing with a rounded off peice of 1X2 on top of it to create a little shelf (only about 1.5″ deep) at the top of the chair.

But the real difference is the addition of some color! Nothing sets off a design like white painted chair rail moulding against a nice deep wall color. I’ve shown a taupe-ish color, but it looks great with blues, reds, yellows, you name it! (at this point I started thinking the floor needed to be darker, but never got a round tuit) This is getting fun! Let’s add some wainscoting:

ScreenHunter 12 Mar. 29 20

Now we’re cooking with fire! The type of bead-board wainscot paneling I’m showing here is so easy to install it’s not even funny! I’ve shown this with 4″ wide planks, but something with the lines a little closer or a little more spread out would still look fantastic!

If you paint everything with at least one coat of good primer and give it a light sanding before you install it, this can be done in a couple of days easily (depending on room size of course!).

To keep things simple, I would install the paneling first and then install the baseboards and chair rail over it. The extra peice of 1X2 at the top of the chair rail will cover the top edge of the paneling. The only thing to really watch out for is the overall thickness. If it gets too thick it can cause issues around your doors and windows.

To avoid this, I would use thin 1/4″ paneling, a relatively thin baseboard (standard stuff is fine), and a casing with a good wide “back band” type detail, such as the aforementioned “Howe” casing. If you don’t want to change your casing completely, you can just add a “back-band”. I’ll have to get into that in another post.

Now for the Grand Finale:

ScreenHunter 14 Mar. 29 20

Whooooo Hoooooo! Isn’t she georgeous! I really like the way this looks! Now, you need to invoke your imagination a little and see it with pictures on the top shelf (which I would make deeper, about 4″ or 5″) and with a little furniture in the room…but this is a showstopper now!

I ran the wainscot up to 63″ in this picture and I think it’s just about perfect for the 8′ room. I also added a very simple and relatively small (3″) crown molding which really caps it off. I tried it at first with a larger, more standard shaped crown and it looked funny. The bead board look just didn’t go with the frilly curves of standard crown. The crown shown here is a simple “cove” molding.

There you go! A quick, RG:Express project that can make you feel like you’re living in a new house in no time flat and for not more than a few hundred dollars. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: