Asked on Jun 11, 2016

# Chair rail height?? At the sill or below or around?

by Mindy DuFlunker
+55
Answered
I am running chair rail around a bedroom. The marble sill is 40" from the floor the window is 39" high. Putting printable wallpaper on the bottom. Painting the bottom a shade darker than the top.
38 answers
• Shari on Jun 11, 2016
While the article juiles1949 linked has good advice (1/3 the ceiling height), I don't really think it is a "one size fits all" solution. Besides the window, I think you should also consider the furniture that will be in the room too. More than likely, your ceilings are only 8 feet, right? Following the 1/3 example, that would mean your chair rail would be approximately 32 inches from the floor. Many dressers are around that height, and beds and headboards can be even higher so, at 32 inches from the floor, most of your chair rail would not even show. Measure the height of the furniture pieces that will be in the room and if they are falling anywhere near the lower 1/3 of your ceiling height, I would place the chair rail a bit higher so it is not hidden behind all the major pieces of furniture. While I wouldn't fret too much about the bed/headboard hiding some of it, you probably would not want it all covered up if you have a lot of other furniture going in the room. (I've lived in houses with small bedrooms and small closets so sometimes you need multiple pieces of furniture for clothes storage.) If the chair rail is so low you can't see it, that pretty much defeats the purpose of having it, in my humble opinion. I say plan your chair rail placement according to your furniture.
• William on Jun 11, 2016
To determine the height of the chair rail, measure the height of the wall, floor to ceiling and divide it by three. The general rule is that the chair rail should be about 1/3 of the way up from the floor (between 32" and 36" for an 8' ceiling).
• Shari on Jun 11, 2016
Using MN Mom's formula with 8 ft. ceilings, the chair rail would fall at 24 inches, which even night stands would cover. Twenty-four inches is way too low!
• MN Mom on Jun 11, 2016
i don't even have a "formula" on this post.
• CK on Jun 11, 2016
If it was me, I'd put up painter's tape at the sill on one side to the wall and below the sill on the other side to the wall. See which height you like better :-) I used to measure and measure until I realized there are hardly ever rooms that are perfect from one side to the other. Now I just eye-ball a lot of things. When they look right to you, they're right.
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• CK on Jun 11, 2016
@Mindy DuFlunker Wish I was there with you. I LOVE picking paint colors. :-)
• Shari on Jun 11, 2016
And what kind of window treatment are you planning? That could make a difference too.
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• Mindy DuFlunker on Jun 11, 2016
Thank you so much I will send you a picture at the end.
• TJ on Jun 12, 2016
Aesthetically it would look best running along the bottom edge of the window. I would forget the "rules" about chair rail height.
• Chrissie on Jun 12, 2016
the initial function of a chair rail was to protect the wall - it's not just a rule there was a reason too - so the height should be governed by the height of the top of your chair backs - as your window looks quite high this would probably fall beneath it
• Becky Vaughn on Jun 12, 2016
My husband has been a carpenter for 50 years. Chair rail is standard at 34". He also stated if running 4 x 8 sheets of breadboard or other paneling you can go 32 inches high so you get 3 cuts from the paneling instead of so much waste. Hope this helps
• Nancy Heil on Jun 12, 2016
I agree that "chair rail height" should be serviceable to the chairs or whatever is involved. I also agree that aesthetically it would look best directly below th window sill. Otherwise you are going to have 6" between the chair rail and the bottom of your window.
• Sue Kiene on Jun 12, 2016
About 28 to 32 inches is an optimum range for chair rail height,” says Hull. “Lower is always better than higher. For me, a good rule of thumb is to install chair rail molding at 25% of the height of the room. In a room with a 10-foot-high ceiling, the chair rail should be 30 inches off the floor.
• Sophia,M.,McConnery on Jun 12, 2016
Why are you running a chair rail in the bedroom?
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• Becky Vaughn on Jun 12, 2016
Maybe she is calling it chair rail instead of wainscoat
• Johnchip on Jun 12, 2016
Do standard height. But you may consider framing the window and putting a piece of wood below the window to 'attach' it to the railing.
• CrowEyes on Jun 12, 2016
There is no "standard height" for a chair rail when it is being used for visual effect (not a dining area/office seating area, etc.). It really depends on the overall effect you are trying to achieve. Take a 4' level and painters tape and try different heights of "break" on the wall and see what feels best to you. I have seen/implemented everything from below window/into window line/high window-line...all depends on the overall effect you are seeking.
• Becky Vaughn on Jun 12, 2016
In construction if you get blue prints requesting a chair rail it is standard 32 - 34. Nothing more or less.
• MadameRã on Jun 12, 2016
Place mirror tiles along the bottom of the window (illusion to make bigger & brighter;& no need for measuring there, just place them with equal ends sticking out at sides).. Place a lovely light opened ruffled lace curtian with the length going almost to the floor (curtians opened of coarse for the effect): add small circle hooks to attach thinly rolled tight alumnium pieces made into a bendy wire, tie curtians carefully back this way with one fold only(you can bend into an interesting shape @ both ends to be different)..this tie effect looks great against mirror tiles, the whole room will come alive & the window looks automatically bigger. Madame Ra
• Marie Hummel-Eisner on Jun 12, 2016
I would run. It in line with the sill. That way it wouldn't interfere with an end table, etc.
• Int2363025 on Jun 12, 2016
Yes, there is a standard height. 8' ceiling is 32" from floor. 9' ceiling or taller is 36" from floor.
• Diana Deiley on Jun 12, 2016
@Interiors291 Good to know. Thanks.
• CrowEyes on Jun 12, 2016
It is the horizontal line that "fools the eye" into making it look wider...I have seen very small rooms utilizing either just a chair rail or a full wainscot...and it entirely changes the whole, initially-closed up feeling of the room.
• Cynthia on Jun 12, 2016
I'd love to see you frame out the window with trim to finish it off, then I'd add chair rail to the height of the lower dimension of that trim- good luck!!
• David on Jun 12, 2016
The correct height is the middle of the rail to be centre of the top of the chair, if you are not having any chairs in the room, you can place it where you like. The idea of a chair rail is to stop the chair damaging the wall when placed near to the wall.
• Becky Vaughn on Jun 12, 2016
My chairs have 38 " backs and that would be way to high. Stick with standard construction height. 32"-34"
• Jim L on Jun 12, 2016
Run the chair rail even with the sill. This way you will have one clean line around the room.
• Kaye on Jun 12, 2016
Good thinking
• Diana Deiley on Jun 12, 2016
Your house, your rules! Tape up a few scrap pieces and see which one you like the most. You could go up 3/4 of the wall to create an optical illusion of a higher ceiling, one color above, another color below! Have fun. Great question.
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• Mary on Jun 13, 2016
@Diana Deiley We moved here last September, so this is our first Arizona summer. LOVED the winter! It's been hot, a little unseasonably so for this time of the summer, but I especially like the dry climate, myself, after the humidity of Minnesota summers...so I think we will like it. Supposed to be 118 or so this weekend, so that's a little extreme, I guess, but we'll stay indoors during the day! :)
• CrowEyes on Jun 12, 2016
I do not believe there is any hard and fast rules when moulding is used for decoration. When utilized for the need of a rail to protect the wall, yes...the "rule" applies...however, relative to interior design, there are no rules...unless you want them😉
• Helen Konz on Jun 12, 2016
If you are trying to protect the wall from chairs hitting it, do measure where the chair hits the wall and use that height, if not then choose the aesthetic that most pleases you.
• Nancy on Jun 12, 2016
A chair rail is usually 2/3 of the wall either from the top or the bottom but never exactly in half because it makes the room look awkward. But as far as yours is concerned I would run it at the sill. From a designer and decorator😊
• Deanna Mills on Jun 12, 2016
The correct height of a chair molding should be 33" from the floor.
• Suellen Hintz on Jun 12, 2016
I'd tend to go with lines that incorporate the lines of the window just so your eyes don't have so many horizontal lines to look at.
• Mindy DuFlunker on Jun 15, 2016
Thank You Suellen Hintz I was thinking the same thing. That would put it 46" high. Thus the problem I have no idea how the finished product would look. I am putting wallpaper on the bottom part.
• Dharrisc on Jun 12, 2016
i believe chair rail molding was originally created to protect the wall from chairs scraping on them ... so, whatever your chair height is the height of the chair rail molding ... i think ...
• Nancy on Jun 13, 2016
Can I ask what kind of window treatment you are planning. I have the same style windows in my bedrooms, sliders that are 3 feet high by 6 feet wide. I'm just looking for ideas to replace unsatisfactory shutters. Thanks!
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• Nancy on Jun 15, 2016
Thanks for getting back to me. I would love to see photos of the finished room. It sounds beautiful!
• Mike on Jun 13, 2016
Chair rail is a decorative and/or protective addition to a room. So it will either go at chair back height or at the most aesthetic height, preferably both will be close to the same height.
• Cherylann Morgan on Jun 13, 2016
Make it where it makes you happy.
• Neva Dew on Jun 13, 2016
@Cherylann Morgan I agree. She should put it wherever she thinks it will look best to her eye and then call it wainscoting - the wallpaper below takes the place of the usual wood. I've seen numerous projects with varying heights of wainscoting on the walls- some high, some low.
• Sheila D on Jun 13, 2016
If the rail is to protect thew wall-place where the chair back would bump the wall
• Cyb6905553 on Jun 13, 2016
To determine the height of the chair rail, measure the height of the ceiling and divide it by three. The general rule is that the chair rail should be about 1/3 of the way up from the floor (between 32" and 36" for an 8' ceiling). You can also slide a chair up to the wall and mark where it would hit the wall. Good luck. Jack from Kentucky
• Kari Roberts on Jun 17, 2016
Run some tape and see what you like best. Personally I would go 5 inches below the window.
• Jeanne Morris on Jun 19, 2016
If it's t/b just decorative, I'd put it just under the sill - (or wherever YOU feel it looks best) - if you want it t/b protective, see where the chair back hits the wall and place it there.
• Johnavallance82 on Apr 13, 2022

No higher than window sill level.

• Johnavallance82 on May 11, 2022

Window height. Higher will make room look smaller. Lower will make room look taller

• Deb K on Jul 16, 2022

Hello, a general rule for rails and wainscoting is 1/3 the height of the wall, so if you have 9-foot walls, then 3-foot (or 36-inch) wainscoting will look great. Scale down to about 32 inches for rooms with 8-foot walls.

hope this helps you out.