How To Fit A Dado Rail | Expert Guide

Posted by Skirting World on 5th Nov 2020

How To Fit A Dado Rail

This is our expert guide on how to fit a dado rail (sometimes called chair rail). If you still need to purchase some or choose a design, be sure to check out our range of dado rails.

How to fit a dado rail

What You Need For Installation

Fitting dado rail is really easy (and very similar to fitting picture rail). Below is a list of things you'll need to complete the job:

Tools & Materials

  • Dado Rail
  • Spirit Level
  • Coping Saw
  • Chalk Line
  • Nail Gun
  • Nails
  • Adhesive
  • Hand Saw
  • Mitre Saw
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure

Note that you may use alternative tools to what we recommend if you can't get your hands on the above.

Getting Started

Now you've got everything you need to get started, here's our step by step guide.

Mark The Wall

Firstly, you'll want to mark the wall where you want the dado rail to sit. Use the tape measure and pencil to mark the height of the dado rail.

Tip: traditionally, a dado rail would be installed at around 900mm from the floor. Nowadays they tend to be used for aesthetic purposes so you may wish to install your dado at a different height (generally around 1/3 of the way up the wall).

Now, you'll want to hold the spirit level up to the mark and ensure the bubble is centred (this way, you know the dado rail will be fixed perfectly horizontal).

Whilst holding the spirit level in the correct position, make marks at regular intervals along the length of the wall. Continue around the room until the wall is fully marked.

After this, you can use the chalk line to make the positioning line more clear along the walls.

To do this, use a hammer to knock a nail into one end of a wall. Hook the end of the chalk line to the nail and extend it across the length of the wall.

Make sure that the line is following the earlier pencil markings you made. Once lined up correctly, hold the chalk line flat against the wall.

Whilst holding the line against the wall with one hand, use the other to pinch the line, pull it away from the wall and then sharply release it.

Doing this will force the chalk line back against the wall and the impact will cause the chalk dust to transfer onto the wall across your markings. You can then remove the chalk line and nail and gently blow along the line to remove any excess chalk (making the guideline as clear as possible).

Fitting The First Piece Of Dado Rail

Now that you have a clear guideline to work too, go ahead and grab your first length of dado rail.

Hold it up to the line, ensuring that it follows the line accurately and one end butts right up to the corner of the wall.

Whilst using one hand to hold it in position, use the other (along with the nail gun) to fix a nail through the centre of the length. Continue to add nails along the length to secure it in position.

Tip: you can use adhesive on the back of the dado rail before nailing it to the wall for an even stronger hold.

Marking And Cutting The Second Piece

As you should have already marked out the other walls where you are fixing dado rail, grab the next piece and hold it on the wall so that one end touches the already fitted piece.

Mark this end with a pencil as we'll need to cut this before fixing it in place.

Using your mitre saw (or a mitre box and hand saw), cut the marked end at a 45 degree angle.

Then, use a coping saw to cut away the profile so that this piece fits over the installed piece.

Dry fix it to ensure a good fit. If all is well, you can go ahead and fit the second dado rail to the wall using the techniques in the previous step!

Installing The Remaining Dado Rails

Simply rinse and repeat until you have successfully fixed the remaining dado rails to the walls.

Should you find any small gaps in the joins, you can use decorators caulk to fill these in for a professional finish. You can also use it where the dado meets the wall to create a seal.