A chair rail, also known as a chair rail molding, is what people install to guard the plaster on walls from cracking or getting damaged, when chairs are placed against it. As such, they are found in kitchens and dining areas, where chairs are predominant.
Traditionally, they were used for the purpose of function, but today, form and function have combined to give birth to beautiful designs that fulfill the various aesthetic requirements of your decorating endeavors. For this detail, they are installed along with wainscoting (large wooden panels) below them.
These can be further enhanced with laminates of different colors, or other materials. Wainscoting is not the only option to add the aesthetic value of a chair rail. A lot of home owners choose to highlight a contrast in their wall paint, above and below the rail, which means the portion above is a lighter color, and the one below is a darker color.
This detail can also be enhanced with the use of wallpaper of different prints and styles. A lot of people are confused between the standard height of a chair rail and the exceptions made for the purpose of decoration. Here's the answer for same.
What Is Its Ideal Height?
Since it is called a chair rail, ideally its height should be equal to the top of a chair back. However, in order to incorporate aesthetics and wall decorations into this functional object, the height may vary anywhere between 32 inches to 40 inches. Technically, the height of the room also plays a part in deciding its height.
If the ceiling of a room is low, say around 8 feet to 9 feet, the chair rail should be no more than 36 inches or 3 feet high. Any dimension that is provided to you should be from the floor to the center of the chair rail molding, and not the top or bottom of the molding. If you have a higher ceiling (say 10 or 12 feet), it can go as high as 48 inches.
Always remember that the height of the chairs that will rest against the chair rail is very essential in determining its height. This is because, if your chair has a low back, the chair rail may look out of proportion with the chair.
On the other hand, if the chair has a very high back, the standard or average height will not matter if it does not fulfill the purpose of preventing damage with the chair. You may use the rule of one-thirds, so that it does not look out of proportion with the height of the wall. So the height of the chair rail may be one-third of the total wall height.
Finally, when you are considering it for the kitchen, its height should match the top of the kitchen counter. This means the top of the molding should be in line with that of the kitchen counter. This is so that the uniformity is maintained. Mismatched heights will only look ugly.
Chair rails have also been used in bathrooms, and here, their height should be in keeping with that of the wash basin or wash basin counter. Installing it is quite a simple task and a lot of people opt to do it themselves. However, a little knowledge of wood work is essential in doing so.
There are numerous ideas to choose from, and you may use some of the aforementioned ones for some inspiration. Depending on your choice, it may be a simple curved molding, or intricately carved. They may also be of varying thicknesses based on your requirements.
You may resort to various wainscoting styles, or simply use paint, wallpaper, or even tiles to highlight the portion below the chair rail. In effect, its design should be in keeping with the overall theme of the room it is being used in.