Installing Chair Rail and Frieze Molding
Chair rail and frieze molding are two ways to enhance the style and elegance of any room. Visually, these decorative elements add harmony to your room's décor. Applying chair rail molding eases the vast scale and empty feeling of large rooms or high ceilings. Mix and match window surrounds, chair rails and friezes. The large variety of sizes and styles available allows you to create a whole new look. Installing these decorative accents can be done by any do-it-yourselfer with a little planning and preparation.
Tools and Materials
Some of the tools you will need include:
Sponge or a clean cloth
Miter box and saw or power miter saw
Chalk line box and pencil
Polyurethane construction adhesive
Some optional tools and materials you may consider useful: a putty knife, hammer, Elastomeric adhesive caulk, 6d or 8d finishing nails (to penetrate a substrate a minimum of ½” to ¾”, and extra fine sandpaper.
Planning Your Space
The most important step of adding chair rail or friezes to any room is to plan the layout. Chair rails are usually installed a third of the way up the wall from the floor, about 32”-36”. Frieze moldings are typically installed below your crown molding or a few inches lower to form a border.
First, measure your room to determine how many feet of molding you will need for your project. Then add 10% to that for miter waste. Divide the total feet by the molding length. For example, if the molding comes in 8 foot lengths, then divide your total by 8. If you want the pattern repeats, you might consider adding additional length to your purchase. For moldings with repeats that are greater than 6”, add another 15% to your total length.
Make sure to store the molding in a dry, well-ventilated area and NEVER store it outside.
You can paint or faux finish the molding either before you install it or after. If you choose to finish it before you install it, you can always touch it up later as needed. Leave the molding in the room where it will be installed for 48-72 hours to allow it to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room. Clean all of the surfaces free of dirt and loose particles with a sponge or clean cloth. Make sure that all the surfaces are completely dry before you install your molding.
Placing the molding in the miter box correctly is the key to successful mitered corners. Since chair rail and frieze moldings are flat, they should be placed in the miter box so that the bedding edge of the molding lies against the side of the miter box opposite yourself. [A] Cut all miters and butt joints before you install the molding. Then lay the molding in place around the room to make sure that all the cuts and joints have been measured correctly.
To miter the inside corners, start by taking two pieces of the molding that you will use for your first corner. Take the “left” length and place it in the miter box as described above. Cut a 45 degree mitered corner. Your saw should be pointed LEFT. [B] Next, do the same thing with the “right” length, adjusting your cut to allow for the continuity of the pattern. Of course, in this case, your saw should be pointed RIGHT. [C] Place the two ends together to check your cuts. Are they a good fit? Great. Next we’ll talk about mitering the outside corners.
Now, get two pieces of molding that you will use for your first outside corner. Place the “left” length in the miter box and cut a 45 degree corner. This time your saw should point RIGHT. [D] Next, you’ll place the “right” length into the box to make your cut, again allowing for the continuity of the pattern. You’ll cut the right miter with your saw pointing LEFT. [E] Check your cuts again for a good fit.
If the molding lengths do not span the whole length of the room, then you will need to “butt joint” two lengths together. The repeat pattern on each length of molding will match exactly except when you cut the molding so match the repeat pattern to the cut pieces of molding. Lay the length of molding in the miter box as described above and cut a straight edge. [F]
General Installation Considerations
Now it’s time to install your chair rail or frieze molding. First, mark the wall with a chalk line. Mark the top edge of your chair rail or the bottom edge of the frieze. Start the installation behind a door or some other inconspicuous spot since the repeat pattern will most likely not match at your last joint.
Apply a ¼” bead of adhesive along the top and bottom of the back of your molding [G] and at the butt joint ends. Use the adhesive to fill in any gaps as well. Press the molding into place and apply caulking to the edges. Smooth the caulk with a putty knife. Wipe the excess adhesive from the edges and clean them with mineral spirits. One option that you have is to secure the molding with finishing nails. You can remove them after the adhesive dries if you leave about ½” of the nail exposed. Use elastomeric adhesive to fill in the nail holes, smoothing the surface with a putty knife. Once the adhesive dries, you can lightly sand the rough edges and touch up the molding as needed.
Always Be Safe
Follow good practices when working with tools. Follow manufacturer’s instructions with the use of adhesives, paint, stain or power tools. Wear safety goggles when using power tools or hammers. Always use the right tool for the job.
Now enjoy the new look of your room knowing that you created this elegance and beauty yourself.
Patricia Tomaskovic is the President of http://www.goceilingmedallion.com, where our goal is to provide you with the best selection of high quality ceiling products, tools, supplies and ideas for creating the perfect ceiling for the room you want to live in. We help you feel right at home!