Level of Difficulty: Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer – Moderate
Completion Time: 8 hours
Embellish a wall with mouldings or decorative panels and create a sumptuous, traditional or rustic decor; the choice is yours. Concentrate on one wall or extend the effect to all four. There is a large selection of interior mouldings available to enhance the decor of any room in the home.
Installing decorative mouldings is fairly easy and requires only basic skills. This guide provides you with all the steps to install decorative mouldings.


  • Table Saw
  • Mitre Saw
  • Finishing Nailer
  • Hammer
  • Finishing Nails

  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Painting Accessories
  • Brushes and Rollers


  • Carpenter’s Glue
  • Wood Glue
  • Plastic Wood
  • Sandpaper
  • Latex Sealant

  • Interior Paint
  • MDF Panels, ¼” x 48" x 96"
  • Decorative Mouldings
  • 1 ½” Finishing Nails



It’s important to harmonize the style of chair rail you select with the existing baseboards. The thickness of the baseboard at the bottom of the wall and the chair rail mid-way up should also be compatible with the strips of MDF forming the frame and the vertical posts of the panelling.
Before you start, allow MDF mouldings to acclimatize for at least 48 hours in the room where they will be installed, at a temperature of 18 °C to 22 °C. Extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity can result in excessive expansion or contraction of the mouldings.

Installation tips

Use finishing nails or wood glue to secure the mouldings. It’s very important that you don’t overdrive your nails. Nail heads should be left to protrude 1/16", then countersink the nails with a nail set.
Use a scarf joint to join two mouldings rather than cutting them at right angles. Make sure the colour and grain match.
Keep the number of joints to a minimum for all types of moulding.

1.1. Fill all cracks and holes.

1.2. Clean the wall, and apply a coat of primer.

1.3. Measure the wall, and on a piece of paper calculate the height of the chair rail, the spacing of the wall strips as well as their width. For this project, we propose positioning the chair rail 71″ from the floor. The vertical posts should be spaced 12″ apart and the strips, 2 ¼”.

1.4. Also measure at the bottom of the wall just above the lower strip. Use a laser or standard level to make sure your pencil markings are perfectly aligned.

2.1. Use the bench saw to cut strips 2 ¼”W on the long side of an MDF panel.

2.2. Lightly sand cut edges till smooth.

3.1. Draw a perfectly level guideline on the wall 71″ from the floor, indicating the height of the chair rail.

3.2. Secure the pieces of the horizontal MDF strip to the wall, following the guideline.

3.3. Join two horizontal pieces with a scarf joint (45o), less visible and a better fit than a straight-angled joint.

3.4. Secure the pieces of the lower horizontal strip over the baseboard at the bottom of the wall.

4.1. Start in a corner under the upper horizontal strip, then using a pencil and tape measure mark the precise spacing, 14 ¼”, of the vertical strips.

4.2. Measure the distance between the upper and lower horizontal strips.

4.3. Cut MDF strips to the required length. This length may vary slightly according to floor levels.

4.4. Begin installing the vertical strips in a corner.

4.5. Glue then nail where pencil-indicated. Verify the distance and spacing for each strip.

5.1. Glue and nail the chair rail above the upper horizontal strip.

5.2. Use 45o cuts or stile joints for the inside corners.

5.3. Connect the two chair rails with a scarf joint for a better fit.

5.4. Nail the chair rail into the wall studs.

6.1. Use filler to fill all nail holes. You can use a small trowel for this task, but it’s a lot simpler and just as effective to use your fingers.

6.2. For a more attractive finish, run a bead of latex sealant to close the gaps between the mouldings and the wall, as well as in the corners.

6.3. Let dry, then sand.

6.4. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

6.5. Use a paintbrush to paint your mouldings to ensure you cover the entire surface.

6.6. Use a roller to paint the walls