How To Remove Chair Rail? Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
17 min read

Chair rails provide both decoration and protection in high-traffic areas, but they inevitably wear out and must be removed at some point. They can be removed by carefully prying them off your walls.

You can learn more about chair rails and how to remove them as you read the article. We also included how to repair walls after removing your chair rails and chair rail alternatives to add to your knowledge.

What Is A Chair Rail?

As you read the post, you’ll pick up useful information on chair rails and their removal. As a bonus, we covered wall repairs you’ll need to make after removing your chair rails and other alternatives to chair rails.

It is often installed at a height of 36 to 38 inches from the floor, though this can vary with the height of the ceiling in the space. The rule of thirds might help you decide where to put things.

Step one is to divide the wall height by 3. The chair rail can be set up at the wall’s halfway point after that.

Chair Rail Removal, Float Smooth and Texture Preparation - YouTube

Steps On Removing A Chair Rail

Removing chair rails may be due to personal preference or due to them being worn down. Either way, here are the steps on removing a chair rail:

Step #1. Prepare your materials

Chair rails might be removed for aesthetic reasons or because they have worn out. In any case, below are the necessary procedures for taking down a chair rail:

  • Tool knife
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer

For this reason, we recommend a pry bar over a crowbar because crowbars are bulkier and more noticeable, making it more challenging to fit them inside the chair rail.

Step #2. Cut and pry

Take a utility knife and carefully score the chair rail’s trim along its perimeter. Taking this measure prevents the walls from being pulled apart by the caulk being cut.

With the trim slit along its length, the edge of the pry bar can be inserted into the wood molding. Then, put it into the chair rail by tapping it with a rubber mallet. The chair rail can be used at either the bottom or the top.

Then, carefully remove the trim from the wall using the pry bar. Just keep doing that until the whole chair rail is free of the wall.

Step #3. Nails and pliers

When taking down a chair rail, you may find nails embedded in the wall. Either the pliers or the hammer will work here. You can hammer them into the wall if you have difficulties removing them.

How Do You Repair Walls After Chair Rail Removal?

Following the removal of the chair rail, the walls will undoubtedly appear damaged.

Step #1. Prepare the materials

The following items are necessary for wall repair:

  • Compound joint
  • Rub the chips off the table
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Putty blade

It’s important to use sandpaper with a fine grain.

Step #2. Scrape and sand

Use the putty knife to scrape off any residual caulk or ridges. The next step is to smooth out the walls with fine grain sandpaper. If you’ve just finished sanding the wall, wipe it down with a moist rag and let it dry before proceeding.

Step #3. Apply joint compound

Make use of a large putty knife to spread a layer of joint compound. Inspect the drywall closely for flaws like torn paper and nail holes. So, please, let it dry.

After it has dried:

  1. Smooth it out with some sandpaper.
  2. If the flaws can still be seen after the first layer, apply another.
  3. Once the second coat of paint has dried, sand it down.

Step #4. Prime then paint

Priming a wall before to painting will help prevent uneven coverage. You should then paint the wall. Let the paint dry, then tidy up the area.

Alternatives to chair rail

The chair rail can be removed and replaced with these when the wall has been repaired.

  • Borders for wall coverings

These create an illusion of a chair rail. You can accomplish this by moving it down and to the center.

  • Ribbon

To create a chair rail, just adhere ribbons to a thin layer of wallpaper. You can stack them to your liking to draw attention to the wallpaper’s patterns. A second option is to use a double rail, with the top ribbon elevated by eight inches.

  • Removable wall decals

It is common knowledge that pre-cut styles and forms can serve as a functional substitute for our wood trim. The wallpaper cutout needs to be marked with a pencil to ensure that the design is centered.

  • Paint

The goal here is to create the appearance of a chair rail by using two contrasting paint colors along the wall’s upper and lower registers. First, tape off the area to be painted, then paint it that way.

  • Decorated patches made of vinyl

Vinyl appliques, available in a wide variety at craft stores, are an easy and inexpensive alternative to traditional chair rails. Creating a vinyl appliqué chair rail is as easy as removing the backing from the appliques and sticking them in a horizontal line along the wall.

removing chair rail DIY – Dispatches from the Castle

14 Chair Rail Moulding Ideas for Your Home

1. Add Some White Space to Eccentric Wallpaper

Using wallpaper successfully, especially if you go for a bold print, can be a challenge. The unusual wallpaper is broken up by the white chair rail molding, which also lets in a lot of light. It makes for a fresh appearance that isn’t heavy.

2. Match Your Chair Rail with a Dark Wall Color

Chair rail moulding in the same shade of grey as the walls further adds to the visual appeal of this light and airy family room. Because to the moulding, we were able to successfully combine classic and contemporary styles while maintaining a high level of comfort. The shadows cast by the moulding against a dark wall create visual interest.

3. Add Multiple Layers of Chair Rail

This is a great example of a chair rail design for a bedroom, which is one of our favorites. Chair rail moldings is a great way to add opulence and visual interest to a room. In this chic bedroom, the curving chair rails in a light color palette add a touch of elegance.

4. Add Classic and Sophisticated Trim

Wonderfully complementing the traditional chair rail and baseboards is some sleek panel moulding. All of the wall’s details are eye-catching, but the artwork and beautifully set table draw attention to them.

5. Match Modern Minimalism with a Flat, Angular Design

This simple design is given a sharp edge by the flat, angular moulding. It’s a nice way to break up the neutral paint and add some minor visual interest without drawing too much attention to any one area. Keeping to geometric forms and flat colors is a surefire method to get a clean, contemporary look. Adding a chair rail to your dining area is a classic design element.

6. Enhance Your Stairwell

Stunning panel moulding covers the entire stairwell. There’s no rule that says lobbies and passageways have to be boring. Chair rail moulding is just one example of the many moulding options available for sprucing up your hallways and stairwells. Layering chair rail moldings and panels to create a stately effect is a common theme among our top chair rail ideas for hallways.

7. Create a Bold Color Scheme

This daring space, built by architect Joo Mansur, demonstrates how to employ chair rail moldings to set off an unconventional color scheme. In order to make a striking contrast with the green apple walls, he painted the chair rail a bright cherry red. This demonstrates how chair rail may be utilized to effectively implement eye-catching color palettes.

8. Use Chair Rail for an Alternative Project

Think beyond the box and use chair moldings to make a one-of-a-kind fireplace or painted craft that no one other will have. Chair rail has a fascinating shape and texture, so don’t be scared to use it as such.

Above is an example of a fireplace with an eye-catching and architecturally intriguing blend of floor-to-ceiling trim pieces. This is a great alternative to nailing the name sign to the wall.

9. Add Texture to Your Bedroom

This luxurious bedroom has an air of calm sophistication thanks to its many intricate design details. Chair rail moldings is a great way to break up a wall that is otherwise flat in appearance. Along with the chandelier and elaborate ceiling design, the chair rail creates an intimate and enclosing atmosphere. Adding texture with moulding is one of those chair rail ideas that works even if you’re not going for a fancy look.

10. Install Chair Rail on Indoor Columns

It’s not necessary to restrict chair rail moldings to the walls. A chair rail runs around the columns and walls of this large living room, giving the space a uniform look and feel. If you want to add a chair rail to your living room, this is a great option to consider.

11. Use Chair Rail for Contrasting Panel Moulding

There is a lot of emphasis placed on the gold panel moulding that decorates the walls here. However, the subtle chair rail moulding makes all the difference in making the space stand out. In this space, the trim and a few well-placed accents strike a perfect balance between bold contrast and spare minimalism.

12. Create an Edge with Angular Chair Rail

This chair rail and matching panel recess assist achieve a sleek, contemporary design. The panel’s proportions aid in giving the impression of a rounded wall. It’s a radical departure from conventional chair rail moulding in both form and function. It’s a nice touch that takes the room from boring to interesting.

13. Cap Off Wainscotting

If you’re looking for chair rail ideas for a bathroom, look no further than this stunning bathroom designed by Emily Henderson. Emily created a fun take on a classic design by using navy shiplap to create a moody wainscotting effect. However, rather than having the visible seam between the shiplap and the wall, she capped it off with chair rail moulding to create a more visually appealing transition.

14. Create a Dual-Tone Wall Design

Emily Henderson has designed a beautiful bathroom with a chair rail that will inspire any homeowner. Emily gave the traditional wainscoting look a contemporary twist by utilizing blue shiplap. Chair rail moldings was used to conceal the join between the shiplap and the wall, making the overall effect more aesthetically pleasing.

10 Rooms with Show-Stopping Chair Rail

1. Tom Griffith

This beautiful space has a timeless, French-inspired aesthetic. Chair rail from our French Curves Finishing Collection provides a touch of elegance to this home office. We really like how this design element elevates the overall classiness of the space.

2. Spacial Effects Design

Brilliantly designed, this fireplace is the focal point of the room. Floor to ceiling, our Then & Now Finishing Collections trim pieces line the fireplace, creating a really one-of-a-kind look. The chair rail, designed with convex lines in the French Curves style, is one of the room’s most eye-catching characteristics.

3. Kerr’s Home Products Limited

Our Very Square Scene II chair rail would look great in this traditionally styled decor. Chair rail and wainscoting work together to give the room a unique character. The curved window is softened by the sharp lines, which also give each element a robust appearance.

4. Wayne Homes

The finished look of the room is enhanced by the addition of our trendy chair rail. The chair rail subtly elevates the room to a higher level of elegance, while the eclectic mix of modern and classic materials makes for an inviting and comfortable ambiance.

5. Terrene Homes

This beautiful space features a handcrafted chair rail fashioned from a fingerjoint Pine Lintel and Square. The innovative design complements the distinctive light fixture and is perfect for the oblong shaped room.

6. Classic Cottages

This beautiful space features a handcrafted chair rail fashioned from a fingerjoint Pine Lintel and Square. The innovative design complements the distinctive light fixture and is perfect for the oblong shaped room.

7. Maison Design & Build

Beautiful fingerjoint Pine Lintel and Square were used to craft the chair rail that frames this area. The cutting-edge structure is an ideal fit for the elongated room and works wonderfully with the unique lighting fixture.

8. Harmony Builders

This luxurious bedroom has been meticulously designed to be a haven of peace and quiet. The high-end aesthetic of this space is aided by the Fashion Forward chair rail. This sanctuary successfully captures a laid-back vibe with the use of a number of chic design elements.

9. Cantera Management Group

Our Very Square Scene II chair rail delineates the room without obstructing the view or making it feel smaller.

10. Atmosphere Interior Design

The chair rail with its trendy, forward-thinking design is a great focal point for this doorway. The chair rail gives the room a sophisticated look without making it too fussy.

Make Beautiful Baseboards and Chair Rails | Wood


If you want to change the look of a room in your house, learning how to take down chair rail is an important skill to have. After removing the chair rails from your wall, you’ll want to know how to properly repair the damage. And now that you have this post, may your redecorating plans go off without a hitch!

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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