What is the Standard Chair Rail Height?

February 14, 2021
by The Finished Space

Chair rail moulding is an elegant finish that can add a tasteful touch to any room, especially when paired with crown moulding. However, figuring out the right chair rail height can be a challenging task

If the chair rail is hung at the wrong height, it can make a room feel out of proportion and pull the eye in all the wrong ways. The purpose of moulding in any room is to tie the look together and add dimension, scale, and proportion. However, if chair moulding is placed at the wrong height, the whole shape of the room can feel off balance.

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So, how high should a chair rail be? What is the standard chair rail height? Let’s take a look into everything you need to know to make sure you put your chair moulding at the correct height. 

What is Chair Rail Moulding? 

There’s a longstanding myth about chair rail moulding. Many people believe that chair rails were invented to protect walls from chair damage. However, the truth is that you can find chair rail moulding all the way back in ancient Roman and Greek architecture.

They may not have called it chair rail moulding. People used it to divide walls in a visually appealing manner to accentuate scale and proportion. The actual term “chair rail” is believed to have been coined by the Shakers who put wood on their walls to hang their chairs on while cleaning the floor.

People use chair rail moulding to protect the wall from scuffs and marks from chairs and furniture. If you are assessing the correct height for chair moulding, it’s important to know that the original intended purpose was to provide scale, which is still the best use of chair moulding.

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Chair rail moulding is a decorative, accent element that is applied to walls to provide scale and create a protective barrier against furniture wear and tear. It can come in a variety of materials, including wood and medium-density fiberboard ( MDF).

Chair rail moulding also comes in an array of, shapes and styles. 

Homeowners tend to choose the same color and style for their chair rail to match the other moulding in the room.

Now that you know what chair moulding is, it’s time to chat about where you should place it. 

What is The Standard Chair Rail Height? 

Many carpenters will tell you to install the chair rail moulding between 32 and 36 inches off the ground, or they’ll measure the height of the nearest chair and insist on laying it there. This may be one way of going at it, but it isn’t necessarily the best.

It’s true that the average chair rail height will be around 32 inches. 

However, they can be positioned anywhere from 24 to 72 inches from the floor, depending on the height of the walls and the proportions you’re hoping to achieve.

As a general rule of thumb, the best height for most walls sits around one-third the distance up the wall from the floor. So, in an eight-foot-tall room, you’d want to hang your chair rail moulding at around 32 inches from the ground.

Other experts say that around 25% of the wall’s height is a better placement. So, for a 10-foot-tall wall, the chair rail moulding would sit at approximately 30 inches. When in doubt, it’s usually better to go a little lower than higher because going too high can really dwarf a room’s scale and make the walls feel shorter and squashed.

A chair rail moulding’s width is another thing to consider. The best width depends on the dimensions of the room, the wall color, and the overall decor—however, two to three inches is the most common width for chair rail mouldings. 

So, How High Should a Chair Rail Be? 

After you have the chair rail height figured out, it’s all about the style. The perfect style chair rail depends on the design and style of the space you’re decorating. Check out 14 chair rail moulding ideas to get you inspired.

If you need help choosing the right chair moulding, give Metrie’s Option (M) millwork combinations a try today. Take the Option (M) style quiz to help you figure out the perfect moulding and finishing touches for any room.