Installing Picture Rail Molding - Pro Construction Guide
Installing Picture Rail Molding

Installing Picture Rail Molding

It’s visual. It doesn’t make a mess of your walls. It works perfectly for the room. Picture rail molding is the look that keeps on giving. Along with providing a visual aesthetic to any room, you don’t have to worry about making a bunch of holes in the wall to hang pictures. Here is how to install picture rail molding.

The only choice you need to make is how high you want to install the molding, measure the perimeter of the room at that height, and then add an additional 10 percent to the measurement.

A good rule of thumb is to install the picture rail molding within 12 inches of the ceiling and steer clear of putting above any window or door casings. And remember to subtract those areas when you’re measuring.

Here are some sure-fire steps you can use when installing picture rail molding:

Step 1

– Preparation is key. Along with finding the right molding for the room, make sure the walls that you’re adding the picture rail to are clean. Make sure to do any repairs or plastering before you add the picture rail. Another suggestion is to paint the walls and picture rail before attaching. This will ensure a clean edge.

Step 2

– Depending on the height of the wall, measure down from the ceiling 12 to 18 inches. Next, make a mark about 1 inch from each end of the wall. Use a laser level to get a straight line, and then make a chalk line between the marks. Suggestion: When measuring the wall, start with the longest one first, and then transfer the measurement to the piece of picture rail. Double-check your measurements before cutting it to size.

Step 3

– Cut the picture rail to length. If the wall length is longer than the molding, you can miter the two pieces together. To make sure you cut the necessary angles at the ends of the pieces of picture rail, use a miter box and a fine saw or an electric miter saw. If you only have a few pieces of picture rail to attach, a miter box and handsaw are more than enough to complete the job. Don’t expect the corners of the room to be perfect 90-degree angles. Even if they are slightly off, check and adjust the cut of the angles to see if they are smaller or larger than they should be. While caulk will hide a lot, it’s good to get your cut as exact as possible.

Step 4

– Apply a bead of construction adhesive to the back of the picture rail and then align the bottom of it with the chalk line you made earlier.

Step 5

– Attach the molding using a pneumatic nailer and 2 1/2-inch nails. Put in one nail about every 6 inches. Remember to make sure the molding aligns with the chalk line. Use a nail set to recess any nails sticking up. Fill the holes with a dab of paintable caulk, and the apply a bead of caulk where the picture rail meets the wall. If you can, use a nailer rather than glue.

Painting it before hanging will ensure that you have perfectly tidy edges. If you can, use a nailer, rather than glue. Both methods work fine, but nailing is much quicker.

What should be in your toolbox

  • Tape measure and chalk line
  • Laser level
  • Drill
  • Paint, primer, and brush
  • Wall trim molding
  • Caulk gun and paintable caulk
  • Construction adhesive
  • Miter saw
  • Laser level
  • Pneumatic nailer and 2 1/2″ Brad nails
  • Nail set

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