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MsKitty32 02-24-2013 03:53 PM

Installing Chair Railing
I am thinking of installing chair railing in a hallway and to break up a diningroom from a livingroom. I won't be surprised if I run into problems - gaps between the rail and wall - because this is an older house.

Are there any things I need to do before I commit to this chair rail to ensure as few problems as possible? Is there a way for me to tell with a level if I will have gaps?

I am also considering a wallpaper border in the place of a chair rail but want to know if the wall is somewhat wavy this would definitely not be a good idea.


joecaption 02-24-2013 03:57 PM

A simple piece of brick string pulled tight will tell you how far out the wall is.
Any chair rail is going to need caulking along the top of it to fill any gaps.

MsKitty32 02-24-2013 05:50 PM

Don't have brick string - would string that isn't too stretchy work?

I know I will need to caulk to fill some gaps but I was hoping they would be small and didn't want to get too far into this project and realize the walls are badly out.

jagans 02-24-2013 08:10 PM

Yes, any string that dosent stretch will work. We call it Masons Cord, or Masons Line, but I guess brick string is what Joe calls it. Same thing. How far out are your walls, did the plasterers drink a lot? :huh: Better cope the corners.

MsKitty32 02-24-2013 08:36 PM

Haha they are out! I used some jute - no stretch.

Sooo, I did know already that I needed to fill two spots ceiling to floor where the wallboard came together. The seam dips in at these two spots. I have my compound and blades ready. However, there is another spot (not in one of these seams) that looks approx. 1/4th inch deep and is about approx. 12 inches long. There also is another spot that is not quite this bad.

I did plan to cope the molding on the inside corners but this won't solve my semi-wavy wall, right? If not, what is the easiest way to make the chair mold look right? Can I determine the height I want the molding and mark these low spots on the wall and mud them to fill them in feathering them out? Otherwise, I wouldn't know how to fix the molding once we got it up having these low spots.

jagans 02-24-2013 08:52 PM

OK, Now I am confused. If by wallboard, you mean sheetrock, and if the people who hung the wall board did not tape and fill the cupped edges, then you need to finish the spackling job that they did not. When you said older house, I assumed plaster, not drywall. Most professional drywall people hang drywall with the factory cupped edges horizontal. Your seams are vertical? It takes a minimum of three coats to fill a cupped seam, in my experience.

MsKitty32 02-24-2013 09:01 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Sorry for the confusion here - I am a newbie.

I will attach a picture of the dip in the wallboard/sheetrock. it's a 1940s house with drywall. I am not sure if whomever did the job didn't fill properly or over time it's shifted/settled? - if that's possible. I wouldn't be surprised if the job wasn't done professionally. These spots I knew I would have to fix.

Besides the dip in the picture that I've attached I can see from holding the string up from one end of the wall to the other that there are other parts of the wall that dip in away from the string that are not where the sheetrock seams are. I don't know how to fix this before putting the railing up. I don't want the railing to look wavy as you look down the wall.

joecaption 02-24-2013 09:52 PM

That looks more like some DIY taping job with only one coat of mud.
That one's a simple fix. I'd go over it with a 6" drywall knife and Green top drywall compound.
Your only trying to fill it the low spot so you only need a thin coat.
Let it dry and sand it with a ciruler motion.
If it needs another coat, wipe the area down with a damp rag and do it again.

MsKitty32 02-24-2013 09:58 PM

I can def do that joe - have the blade and compound.

Any idea on the part of the wall that dips in where the chair rail would be? I don't want 1/4 inch gaps between my chair rail and wall after nailing. Can I mud flat a horizontal section of the wall where the chair rail will be and feather the mud out so you can't pick up with your eye the fact that I flattened the one section out?

joecaption 02-24-2013 10:05 PM

I would just nail it to the high spots and use caulking and paint.

FrankSmith 02-24-2013 11:20 PM

Will this chair rail be stained or painted? Either way you will get the best results by installing your trim and floating the low spots of the drywall to meat your trim. If it is stained trim you will want to finish the trim first so you don't get compound or dust on the wood prior to the finish,

MsKitty32 02-25-2013 08:39 AM

The rail will be painted. I think this is going to make it a little easier for us when it comes to caulking and filling in gaps so they are not noticeable.

I understand the concept of "floating". I have tried for hours to find step by step instructions on the web about doing this when a wall is wavy but have had no luck. Can you explain it to me in detail? I would really not start this project until I know exactly what I am going to need to do to fix issues I know exist.

hand drive 02-25-2013 09:10 AM

many times nailing the trim to the wall studs helps to float out some of the waviness. chances are discrepancies will be between the wall studs or as a result of a bowed stud within the wall system. if you nail on the high points along the wall and do not try and draw the chair up tight to the wall where the wall dips then waviness will be at a minimal and caulking and paint can accomplish its purpose afterwards.

MsKitty32 02-25-2013 09:15 AM

I think I will get my string back out and mark the low spots in the wall and then use the stud finder and see if these spots are between studs. Hope so. Seems like an easier fix than having a bowed stud. One low spot was roughly 1/4th inch from the string...I just thought that would be a lot to caulk or may look funny but if it can work then I will tackle it.

hand drive 02-25-2013 09:41 AM


Originally Posted by MsKitty32 (Post 1124469)
I think I will get my string back out and mark the low spots in the wall and then use the stud finder and see if these spots are between studs. Hope so. Seems like an easier fix than having a bowed stud. One low spot was roughly 1/4th inch from the string...I just thought that would be a lot to caulk or may look funny but if it can work then I will tackle it.

you can also (split the difference) . if you have a low spot as a result of a stud that is bowed away from the face of the wall that the chair installs to causing the low spot then you can nail through to the stud and shim behind the chair rail to make the space(gap) half the distance as apposed to a full 1/4" gap. you are left with a 1/8" gap and the chair does not show the waviness as bad either.
really though, all you can really do is nail to the studs for best attachment purposes and if the dip is in the wall covering between the studs then drawing it up tight does not work because of nothing to nail to so you are basically getting dips in the wall. mudding it out could also be done after the chair is installed, use some painters tape taped to the chair to be pulled after mud dries. easier to float the wall before chair though :)

if you can get a hold of a straight edge, maybe 1x4 8 foot long that will help to set against the wall to emulate the chair and find the gaps etc...

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