Wall Trim and Chair Rail - Easy Room Remodel


This was a project that Karrie decided on doing.  I think she saw something on Pinterest where you could make your dining room look updated and a lot nicer by adding some wall trim and painting two different colors.  By the time we started to work it had turned into crown molding, chair railing, wood trim boxes and painting the walls blue on top and white on the bottom.  Here are the pictures she saw that inspired the whole thing.
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A nice formal dining room look.
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And here is our dining room that we were starting with.
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Unfortunately i didn't record any video or take a lot of pictures during the process.  But the best thing about the whole process was that it cost less that $100.  We bought 50' of crown molding, two 12' lengths and two 16' lengths.  We already had baseboard installed from when we got new carpet last year.

Before we went out to buy anything we spent lots of time measuring and designing.  I measured all the walls for length and height.  Also making sure to measure the location of the electrical outlets, windows and doors.  Next i drew everything to scale on AutoCAD.  You don't necessarily need to draw it on the computer, but it helps to see how everything will look.  I ended up drawing several different versions.
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Here's what it looked like on the computer, even more versions.  5 boxes, 4 rectangles, 3 long rectangles, 5 different size boxes...
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Each design had the same height of the chair railing but different size and different number of rectangles.
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This is what we ended up going with, different size boxes and rectangles.
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You need to spend time measuring and drawing so that you will avoid things like outlets and window frames.  Otherwise it might be too late before you realize you have a board going through the center of the outlet.
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We went to Menards to buy the small trim for the rectangles.  For that trim we bought the cheapest stuff we could find, i think it was $0.70 per foot.  It wasn't plastic but it also wasn't solid wood, it was sort of hollow in the back.

We were going to buy "chair railing" but then saw the price.  It was really expensive.  Then we realized that we still had "door trim" from the 100' contractors pack we bought to refinish the basement.  In case you are wondering, the chair railing and door trim have a very similar profile.  We had to put trim around two doors in the basement and it turned out that buying the 100' contractors pack was cheaper then buying individual 8' pieces that we needed.  We still had 44' of trim left over and if i didn't make any mistakes it was enough to wrap around the room.
chair rail vs door trim

Then we bought 1 gallon of blue paint.  We already had several gallons of white paint and primer in the basement.

So ya we did save money by already having baseboard, door trim and white paint.  If we didn't have that then it might have cost $150 or more, but still not that much to redo a room.
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We had a little help.
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We started by painting the top half of the wall blue, then we were ready for putting up the wood trim.

Once the design was finalized and we had all the wood, we started by marking the walls and snapping a chalk line for the chair railing.  I was in the basement cutting the boards and Karrie and her dad were upstairs nailing everything to the wall.

Again i cannont state how important it is to have a good miter saw and nail guns.  This can be done with a hand saw and hammer and nails but it would be a huge pain and not come out as precise.  I've said this for many projects we've done around the house, from remodeling our family room, baseboard, basement, Rhys' bedroom, ...

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So i was in the basement, first cutting the chair rail boards and carried them up to be nailed in place.

Then i cut the small trim for the rectangles.  It was again nice to have the AutoCAD plans so that i just had to cut the boards to the measurements on the plan.  Then took those pieces upstairs as i cut them.  The rectangular pieces were harder to attach to the walls since the spacing and level had to be checked.
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After all the trim and chair rail was installed we painted the bottom half white.
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Here's another view of the white trim.
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And here's another close up.  You can see how you need the corners to be cut pretty precisely or else it won't look good.
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And again, measurements and drawings make sure that everything's spaced off the walls and windows.
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After all the chair railing and rectangles were done the room looked pretty good.  But as we found out with the family room and basement, adding crown molding really makes the room look good.  Crown molding is always a pain to put up.  I don't do back-cuts, i just cut the angles on the miter saw.  The biggest tip i can give is to make yourself a "template" board.  Basically a board with the 4 different cuts you can make and each side numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.  Then hold the template board in place to determine what number you have to cut.
crown molding cutting template

Then carry that template to your miter saw to determine how to turn your saw and how to hold the board to make that cut.  The crown molding will have to be held at a 45 degree angle to the fence and sometimes held upside down.

Another tip is to use an 8' 2x4 to hold one end of the board in place as you attach the other end to the wall.  That way someone doesn't have to stand on a ladder holding up the other end as you nail it.

Again an 18 gauge nail gun is almost a necessity for doing this.  Holding the crown molding in place with one hand and nail it to the wall with the other hand.  Even though i still managed to make 2 mistakes.  I cut the boards too short and had to glue the mistake cuts back together.  Luckily with a bit of sanding and spackle, i'm the only one who notices the mistake.
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The last step is some spackle and caulk to fill in the nail holes and edges.
caulk crown molding for finished look

We are really happy with how it turned out and even happier that it cost less that $100.
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