How To Install Chair Rail Without A Nail Gun [Beginner’s Guideline]

One of the simplest ways to update and refresh a room is to install a chair rail in it. But without a nail gun, it can be a challenge to properly install this decorative molding. Although not undoable.

It is simple to accomplish by utilizing a click-system or liquid nail/adhesive.

You’re in luck if you want to install chair rail without using a nail gun. You won’t need any expensive tools or equipment to learn how to achieve that thanks to our beginner’s guidelines. A few basic materials and some knowledge are all you’ll need. You’ll be on your way to a lovely chair rail installation in just a few simple steps.

What Is Chair Rail?

Chair rail molding is a type of trim (also known as dado rail) used to protect walls from damage caused by chairs. It is typically installed at a height of 32 to 40 inches, which is the average height of a chair back. Chair rail molding can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. It is available in a variety of styles to match any décor.

Although in the old days its primary purpose was to protect the wall from harm that can be caused by the chair’s back, in modern times it mainly serves as a decorative element.

By installing chair rails, you may give your room a more aesthetically pleasing appearance while also adding dimension and texture. It raises the worth of your property in addition to improving its beauty.

Read Also: What Size Nail Gun Do I Need For Crown Molding?

Are Chair Rails Still In Style?

Chair rails are still in use today. Instead of being waned, it’s becoming an integral component of basic interior design. Even though this form of molding was originally created to prevent the walls from being damaged by the chair backs, homeowners now use it mostly for style.

Georgia Zikas, founder and lead designer of Georgia Zikas Design described the effectiveness of chair rails as follows:

“Like denim jeans, I don’t believe that a chair rail will ever go out of style, but it really depends on how you present it with supporting accents. It is currently not in a fashion to leave it unsupported by paneling.”

As a result, you don’t need to worry too much about style when adding chair rails to your walls. Additionally, you may consider adding picture frame designs or other decorative panels beneath the chair rails to make it stand out and look more stylish.

Read Also: How To Install Quarter Round Molding?

Is It A Bad Idea To Install Chair Rail With A Nail Gun?

No! A nail gun is a very popular instrument for any construction operation. The chair rail installation process will go more quickly and reliably if you use a nail gun. Therefore, utilizing a nail gun to install chair rails is never a terrible idea.

On the market, there are multiple kinds of nail guns. However, a finishing nailer is made exclusively for installing chair rails. Chair rail moldings are delicate and the two-inch, 16 to 18 gauge finish nails that finish nailers are designed to drive are the appropriate size for them. If you select fasteners that are thicker than 16-gauge, the molding may split.

Additionally, larger-headed nails will produce marks on the chair rails that are odd-looking. Applying putty and refinishing work is required in order to fill the hole left by nails. In some circumstances, this refinishing procedure forces you to give up the finish that looks like glass.

As a result, it is recommended to use 18 gauge brad nails to install chair rails which are often headless and require minimal refinishing work.

Now, if you’re a DIY homeowner, and you do not have an 18-gauge brad nailer or a 16-gauge finish nailer on your hand, you might consider installing chair rails without a nail gun.

Below, we covered two of the most efficient non-nail gun chair rail installation techniques.

Read Also: Different Types of Nail Guns Available On the Market

The Ways Of Installing Chair Rail Without A Nail Gun

Installing a chair rail is a simple process that can also be possible to do without using a nail gun. There are two possible ways to do the job either. These are –

  1. Using Construction-Grade Adhesive
  2. Using Dovetail Connectors

Installing Chair Rails Using Glue:

Using wood glue or caulk and finish nails is the most popular way to secure the chair molding in place. Contractors usually prefer to caulk the back of the chair rails before securing them with finish nails for extra stability. If you do not have a finish nailer with you, no need to worry, you can use a hammer to drive nails instead.

If you plan to affix chair rails solely with glue (and not with nails), you should be aware that, even with proper application, the glue joint only lasts for one to two years. [Reference – Diarmuid Brock,]

Also, after the application of glue, you must tightly clamp two pieces of wood together for a set amount of time to allow them to bond with each other. And, using clamps to mount chair rails on your wall is really difficult. Therefore, it won’t be a smart idea to install chair rail molding on the walls using only glue.

Note: For a secure and long-lasting bond, it is advised to glue the chair rail’s back and fix it with nails after mounting it to the wall.

However, if you want to replace the chair rails after one or two years, you can use only glue. The advantage of using adhesive to secure chair rails is you will not be required to apply any putty as you need in the case of using a nail gun. Also, you can reduce the chance of splitting the molding.

In that case, you may choose construction-grade adhesive. And the Loctite PL Fast Grab Premium glue or Titebond II glue will be the best choice. It will give you the strongest hold among other adhesives available on the market. According to research conducted by the family handyman, this adhesive can hold about 115 pounds on the wood block and 92 pounds on the PVC block.

Below, we’ll go over the specifics of how to install chair rails without using a nail gun.

Essential Instruments

  • Hammer (Medium-sized)
  • Wood glue (Construction Grade Adhesive)
  • Caulk Gun
  • Finish nails (2-inch, 18-gauge)
  • Safety Gears
  • Measurement tape
  • A pencil
  • Miter saw
  • Window Glazing
  • Paint or Varnish (For refinishing work)
  • Sand Paper and Cloths

Approximate Cost

The price of the materials used in chair rail installations varies. Chair rail molding will typically cost between $260 and $270 if we use medium-quality materials, and installation will cost between $307 and $330. Thus, the final price will be between $567 and $600. Chair rail molding will typically cost $3.27 per linear foot for basic quality, $3.90 for medium quality, and $4.55 for premium quality. [Source:]

Read Also: What Order Should I Follow To Buy Woodworking Tools?

Installing Chair Rails Using Dovetail Connector:

Chair rail installation with a click method is less common than chair rail installation with glue. But it is a useful solution that can provide you with dependability and quicker installation. Additionally, because it is an easy-to-fix connector, you can replace a section of the chair rails for maintenance at any moment without damaging the entire molding.

You must use a specific kind of plastic dovetail connector intended for this process. The sKLICK (offered by is the ideal plastic dovetail connector for anchoring chair rails, according to our research. To install this connector, you won’t need a nail gun.

You have to use screws to secure the sKLICK connector to the chair rail backer and a router to cut a dovetail groove into the chair rail molding’s back. The chair molding will snugly fit into the dovetail connector when you press it into place. It may be quickly snapped together and self-tightens to facilitate assembly.

The advantage of using an sKLICK connection is that it takes the least amount of time to set, which lowers labor and equipment expenses while, most importantly, maintaining the flawless appearance of your chair rail molding.

In order to take advantage of this, you must put in a little extra effort to cut a dovetail groove into the back of the chair rails. You must either own a router for that purpose or hire one.

Essential Instruments

  • Screw Driver
  • Screws (3×13 Pan Head)
  • Wood Router
  • Dovetail Router Bit (custom ½ inch)

And other necessary tools mentioned above.

Approximate Cost

SKLICK connection is priced at $0.55 per piece. However, the price will drop to $0.22 a piece if you select a 500-pack. Therefore, the total price for a 50-pack will be $27.50, and for a 500-pack, it would be $110.00. Chair rail molding and installation will cost the same as what was previously stated.

Read Also: How To Use A Wood Router To Create Beautiful Designs

How To Install Chair Rail Without A Nail Gun – 9 Easy Steps

We came to know that we can install chair rails in two ways without touching a nail gun. Now we move into the details of a chair rail installation process.

Step 1: Take Necessary Safety Measure

You don’t need to take any dangerous or difficult measures to install chair rail molding. However, you must exercise caution when cutting angles using a miter saw. You should wear gloves, eye protection, and earbuds when using the miter saw.

Step 2: Collect The Stuff

Choose the molding material. For construction-grade adhesive, it is preferable to choose lightweight wood because it has the potential to survive longer. As described previously, gather all other required tools.

Step 3: Prepare The Wall

Clean and dry the locations where chair rails will be put. Make sure there is no loose drywall or paint.

Check whether you have any intentions to paint or add wallpaper to the wall. If so, complete them before affixing the molding.

If you want to install chair rails in the room you are now living, move your bed or other furniture away from the wall to make the installation work easier.

Step 4: Measure And Mark

Measure the height of the chair rails. The standard practice among contractors is to take 36 inches from the wall’s base. But you can pick a location between 32 and 42 inches.

Once the height has been determined, mark the location at several points and draw a horizontal line across the room using a leveler so that the line is parallel to the floor.

Step 5: Do The Finishing Work

If you select raw chair rail molding, it is preferable to complete the finishing tasks prior to installation. For that, use 180-grit sandpaper to lightly but completely sand the molding. Clean it up, then paint, varnish, or stain it. You should test the color on a scrap piece to see if it has the proper finish before applying it.

To save additional headaches from painting, you can alternatively select to purchase prefinished chair rail molding from the store. If such is the case, all that is left to be done is to fill the nail gap (considering you drive nails using a hammer).

Step 6: Cut The Molding

It’s time to cut the molding to fit on your wall after taking the right measurements and doing the pre-finishing tasks. Cut angles for corner joints and long, straight joints with a miter saw.

Moldings that have been cut to size should be dry-fitted to the wall. It will give you the opportunity to verify whether the angles you cut are correct.

Step 7: Paste Adhesive

Use a caulk gun to apply the liquid adhesive. Put the molding at face down condition on a clean straight space, and then zigzag a 1/4 inch glue bead along the length of it. Give it a few minutes to settle.

Step 8: Attach The Molding

Press the molding on the wall along the line you draw earlier and apply consistent pressure. For three to four minutes, firmly hold it in place to allow the adhesive to dry.

Use a stud finder to locate the studs if you want to add finish nails, and then hammer the nails into the molding along the stud placements.

Step 9: Final Touch

When pressing, carefully wipe the sides of the molding if you notice any glue dripping out.

Finish nails will leave a tiny imprint on your molding if you use them. Putty needs to be applied to cover the gaps, the points need to be lightly sanded, and the area needs to be painted or varnished. Be cautious when choosing the paint color because a dark or light application could ruin the chair rails’ aesthetic integrity.

Read Also: Can You Use A Nail Gun For Drywall?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q-1: How to install chair rails on beadboards?

Chair rail installation on beadboard panels is essentially identical to chair rail installation on plain board. In this case, you must first install the beadboard planks before adding the molding on top of them.

Apply construction-grade glue to the backside of the molding, as you would with other procedures. Put pressure on them against the wall and the beadboard’s top. Along the stud sites, fasten them with finishing nails (with a hammer).

Q-2: How to install chair rails on stairs?

The following are the procedures for putting chair rails on stairs:

Step 1: Select a few spots on the wall before beginning to install chair rails on the stairs. From the bottom of the steps, the points would be 32 inches high. Draw a horizontal line by adding the points together, and then calculate its length.

Step 2: Measure the angles formed when the up-stairs and down-stairs lines cross one another.

Step 3: Use a stud finder to locate the studs and mark them.

Step 4: Use a miter saw to cut the molding at the specified angles and dimensions.

Step 5: Attach the molding to the wall by using construction-grade glue to the back of the molding.

Step 6: Using a hammer, secure the molding with finishing nails. You can also use a brad nailer (if you have one) in such cases.

Step 7: Fill up the holes left by finishing nails with putty. Make the last adjustments. You’re done now.

Q-3: How to install polyurethane chair rails?

Polyurethane chair rails are more flexible and less expensive than chair rails made of wood. The installation process of polyurethane molding is also the same as that of wood molding. Polyurethane chair rails can be installed using poly-glue and finishing nails. In this situation, trim head screws can be used in place of finish nails.

Q-4: How to cut chair rails inside and outside corners?

To cut the corners of molding, you must use a miter saw or miter boxes and a hand saw. With the miter saw, cut the molding through the face at a 45-degree angle for inside corners so that the cut edge is visible from the front. Use the same 45-degree angle for outside corners, but in the reverse direction, so the cutting edge did not see from the front.

Read Also: How To Use A Miter Saw To Cut Angles?

Q-5: How to install chair rails on an uneven wall?

As the polyurethane chair rails are flexible enough, you can choose them for uneven walls. However, if the wall is severely uneven, you must take partial measurements of each uneven part and cut the molding accordingly.


This post is written for those who still wondering how to install chair rails without using a nail gun. Here, we tried to lead you through every step of the procedure, from wall preparation to do-it-yourself chair rail installation. Please leave a comment if you have any inquiries or feedback about the article.

Rate this post

Tushar Mirror

Toolsmirror is a group of co-fighters led by Engr. Tushar is dedicated to gathering information, analyzing & test various items, and releasing reviews on various woodwork and outdoor tools. Our mission is to provide our readers with the most up-to-date ideas and approaches, as well as reveal the genuine features that will assist them in selecting the best items for their professions and DIY projects.

Recent Posts