There are no hard and fast rules to what height you should place your chair rail, but some clever planning can help you create the wall masterpiece of your dreams.
Most commonly chair rail is applied to the lower third of the wall at around the point it looks pleasing to the eye and balances the dimensions of a room.
The formula we recommend for calculating your dado rail height is:
Wall height (finished floor level to ceiling) DIVIDED BY 5 TIMES 2
You would then apply your chair rail within 100mm of this number.
For example, for a 2.4 metre ceiling you would calculate:
1. 2400/5 = 480mm
2. 480 X 2 = 960mm
You would then place your chair rail anywhere between 900mm and 1000mm from your finished floor level.
You can read our full wainscoting installation guide and watch our video here.
- Paint the wall and dado rail the same light colour to create texture and open a room. If you then add light coloured furnishing, the walls and similar hued upholstery enhances the sense of openness. This will also add an air of sophistication to your space.
- Try painting the bottom half of the wall with darker shades to anchor the room and create a strong visual break. By using a lighter colour on top, you’ll find the paler colour of the wall will then flow into the ceiling to help blur the line between the wall and ceiling creating the illusion of a larger space.
- If you have dark furniture you can paint the lower part of the wall below your chair rail a darker shade that is similar to the tones of your furniture and use a lighter colour on the wall above. This will give the illusion of space without having to refurnish your home. Try keep furniture heights low (not above chair rail height) to help maximise this illusion.
- Add cosiness to a large room by installing chair rail to divide the room then use a patterned wall paper above the rail. This will add energy without overwhelming the eye like multiple wall hanging artworks might do. Remember to keep a shared colour and tone palette above and below the chair rail so they compliment each other and are not overpowering.
- Adding a chair rail to a long, narrow hallway and using wallpaper, lining board or dark paint either above or below the rail can give the perception of width, giving your eye the perception that the width to height ration is larger. It also creates flow through the space tricking your eyes to think it is all one large, connected space.
- A higher chair rail with wainscoting below, or split by colour above and below the rail can fool the eyes into thinking a tall, narrow window is bigger. Although popping the chair rail higher will bring the feeling that the ceiling height is lower, this might be the ideal dimension for a large dining room furnished with a smaller table.
- If your chair rail has been placed high and you’re not liking how low it is making your ceiling look, hang a chandelier or large feature pendant and try match the height of the chair rail with the bottom of the light. This will tie the room together and draw your eyes to the feature light and not so much the ceiling height.
- Add a focal point to one wall by placing chair rail, wainscoting or wall paper to plain rooms.