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Fit a Dado or Picture Rail

Skill Level: Beginner


Many nineteenth century houses and a fair amount of twentieth century as well are fitted with either one or two dado rails. The first would be located a little way below the ceiling, and the second; the Chair rail, used to protect a wall from scuffs or gouges caused by furniture and other items of furniture. When used as a decorative feature, the moulding is usually positioned about 1/3 of the distance from the floor to the ceiling.

The wooden upper dado was used either to hang framed pictures from or to place picture frames within the space between the ceiling and the rail. Dado rails are today still a popular design element in many modern homes, particularly the lower rail.  Dado rails are also used as a capping to wood panelling. A room can be greatly enhanced by the addition of a dado rail; contrasting paint colours look attractive, as well as a wallpaper and paint combination. There are no real skills required; just a few basic tools and a little time


Establish and Mark the Height Line

You’ll need this bit right to get off to a good start.

Mark a point on one of the walls at the desired height. Then, using a spirit level, mark a horizontal line around the room on all walls. Cut the longest lengths of rail first making 45 degree angle cuts into the corners. An electric mitre saw makes this job quicker and easier but it can be done without any problems using a handsaw and mitre-block

Check twice, Cut Once!

Work out the number of pieces of rail you need for the room.

Measure carefully and mark your cut lines accurately, to ensure a nice neat fit is achieved. This will also help reduce the amount of filler you will need, if you leave unsightly gaps


Apply the Adhesive

Modern day, quick fix, quick dry adhesives are ideal for jobs of this nature.

When you have the rails cut to length, and a clearly visible datum line to work to; we’re ready to apply the adhesive. Always read the instructions before using, and apply two continuous beads of adhesive along the back and length of the rail


Use Nails as a Temporary Aid

Although the adhesive hardens fairly rapidly and is extremely strong when set, it is best to temporarily secure the dado rail, when in position, with small nails or pins, as a precaution.

You’ll find it easier if you have a little help when doing this bit; just while you’re “tacking” it to the wall
Continue working your way around the room, fitting and fixing one length of rail at a time. When complete, leave everything overnight to allow adequate setting of the adhesive. Don’t start filling in the gaps yet.


Filling and Knotting

Once the adhesive is fully set we can then finish the job off.

Before applying any stain or paint, we must fill in any gaps around the rail, and apply knotting where needed. It is important to paint knotting on bare wood knots in order to prevent any resin saps from weeping out over time, and staining through whichever coating we use


Painting or Staining Your Dado Rail

The finishing touches are all that’s needed now.

To finish the job off and protect our handiwork, we need only to either paint or stain it. As with all new timber, we shall need to apply a coat of both primer and undercoat before a finishing coat of our choice


Tools you will need:
Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer
Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer

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