Category: Walls & Ceilings


How To: Texture a Ceiling

Things are looking up if you hope to add new character to a room. You can easily bring visual interest by texturing your ceilings, where DIY options abound.

How to Texture a Ceiling - Dining Room

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Sterling, VA

It all too easy to slap a coat of white paint on your ceiling and consider it done. But to really pull a room together, it ought to be stylishly topped off—and putting a textured effect on the ceiling is a great way to add impact to your décor. Another plus? Textured ceilings perfectly camouflage imperfections like cracks or evidence of water damage. There are a variety of techniques you can employ to create your texture of choice (way beyond the “popcorn” look popular in the 1970s). All it takes is a mixture of paint and drywall mud—and a little ingenuity. Read on for simple step-by-step guidance to texturing your ceiling, your way, without sending your budget through the roof.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Drop cloths
- Painter’s tape
- Ladder
- Primer
- Pre-mixed textured paint
- Wall paint
- Drywall mud

How to Texture a Ceiling - Stucco Texture

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Since you’ll be working against gravity, you’ll want to protect your furniture, floors, and fixtures from splatters. Empty the room as much as possible, which will also give you space to move around. Cover remaining pieces of furniture and the entire floor with drop cloths. Next, take off any faceplates, vent covers, ceiling fans, and/or light fixtures. Finally, apply painter’s tape around the edges of the ceiling, right where it meets the wall, being careful to keep it stick-straight all the way across.

STEP 2
You might think that because textured paint is part drywall mud it will adhere to any surface, but for a quality job, you still want to prime first. This step will make application easier and give lasting results. Choose a primer close to the color you’ll be using to texture your ceiling—a dark primer for dark paint and a light primer for light paint. Cover the entire surface in a thin, consistent layer and let dry fully (consult the can’s drying time guidelines) before moving on.

STEP 3
Prep your product. If you’re looking for a subtle texture, you’ll get good results with pre-mixed textured paint. But if you’re aiming for more depth or special effects, mix your own by combining paint with drywall mud. The standard rule of thumb is one part drywall mud to 10 parts paint. Pour paint into a bucket, add drywall mud, and blend, aiming for the consistency of pancake or biscuit batter. Depending on the look you’re going for, you might want a somewhat thicker consistency. Do a small batch first to practice getting it just right.

STEP 4
It’s always wise to start in the least noticeable part of the ceiling when applying the texture—perhaps the darkest corner of the room, or the edge of the ceiling closest to the door. Position your ladder there and make sure you can work from a reasonable angle without arching backwards. The exact technique (and subsequent tools you’ll need) depends on your desired effect.

For a subtle finish: Apply pre-mixed textured product as you would typically put on paint. Cut in at the edges first with a paintbrush. Then use an extended roller and paint tray, taking care to bring your roller as close to the edges as possible. To amp the look slightly, use a specialty roller with a texture of its own. Don’t be afraid to experiment; after all, if you don’t like the initial result, you can always switch gears and apply another coat.

For a stucco finish: To mimic the look of stucco, you’ll need a damp sponge or cloth as well as a wide compound knife or, if you’ve chosen a thicker-than-average consistency for aesthetic reasons, a trowel. Working on one small section at a time, apply the mixture to the ceiling, and then dab a damp sponge or cloth into your work in a repetitive motion to create the texture you desire. Repeat this process around the room, one section at a time, being careful not to let the pattern become too uniform.

For a popcorn finish: If you like this retro look, you’ll need to buy or rent a drywall texture sprayer. Purchase enough lightweight plastic sheeting to protect your walls from flying particles, securing it to the the perimeter of the room with painter’s tape and covering the walls like a floor-length curtain all the way around. Before spraying, choose the nozzle and air pressure setting that matches your desired result, and then follow its instructions as you move the sprayer across the ceiling. Again, allow your application to look as random as possible rather than aiming for a perfect pattern.

For an artistic finish: Truly advanced DIYers may wish to add extra character by creating a Victorian style rose rose medallion around a central lighting fixture or ceiling fan. This dramatic effect is achieved by using drywall mud and an array of texturing combs (two or three should do the trick, anywhere from 3 to 10 inches in length apiece). Working in concentric circles, you’ll use the combs to apply drywall mud (without paint) in thick, even, decorative stripes to mimic the look of plaster. When completely dry, you’ll paint the entire ceiling. Just keep in mind that this project will require a steady hand and a solid sense of design, so study up on the process before giving it a shot.

Whichever technique you choose, the end result will lend extra punch to your space’s style. The array of colors and effects is endless, so have fun and aim for a look that captures the personality of the room and those who live in it.


3 Fixes for Popcorn Ceilings

Banish that unwanted popcorn texture and lift your ceiling to new heights with these DIY solutions.

SHARES
How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Photo: fotosearch.com

While popcorn is almost always welcome during a trip to the movies or a viewing of your favorite TV show, there is one place the texture of this favorite treat is generally not wanted: on your ceilings. Popcorn ceilings were a fixture in homes from the 1950s well into the ’70s, but their presence today has a way of making a space feel more old-school than cool. Rid your rooms of this outdated ceiling treatment using one of these three smart and stylish solutions.

Before embarking on any of these methods, first test your ceilings for asbestos. You do not want to ingest or inhale the dangerous fibers that can come loose during your project. If an at-home test reveals that your popcorn does contain asbestos, leave any alterations to the pros.

 

SCRAPE IT

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Scrape

Photo: instructables.com via Sonata85

If you can scrape together humble household paraphernalia like clear tarp, a flat-edged metal scraper, and a putty knife, you can scrape off that popcorn ceiling. Start by removing as much furniture as possible from the room, and then lay the tarp completely over the floor, radiators, and whatever else remains. Duct-tape the seams together and use painter’s tape to secure the tarp to the wall, creating a big concave sheet to catch all the debris. Next, get up on a steady ladder or stool and moisten a square area of the ceiling with water. Holding the scraper at an angle, use it to gently slide the popcorn texture off; work around hard-to-reach edges with a putty knife. When the ceiling is clear, bundle up the popcorn-filled tarp and dispose of it. Fill and sand any ceiling holes with spackling compound, and wipe the ceiling smooth with a damp cloth. Finally, prime the bare ceiling and paint it, reveling in its newfound smoothness.

 

TILE IT

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Tile

Photo: epbot.com

Although scraping is an effective way to get rid of a popcorn ceiling for good, the process can be more than some are willing to undertake. If you’re not ready to tackle the job, consider concocting a clever cover-up using decorative tiles instead. Styrofoam versions like these are not only inexpensive and customizable, but also easy to cut and install. Calculate the number of ceiling tiles needed to cover the area, and then use an X-Acto knife to slice the Styrofoam down to the desired measurements. Dab construction adhesive on the tiles, and then press them onto the ceiling, ensuring that they fit flush next to each other. Caulk the lines for a seamless finish.

 

PLANK IT

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings - Plank

Photo: edithandevelynvintage.com

If popcorn ceilings are seriously compromising your decor, give them a modern makeover with rustic wood planks. While a higher-grade wood may be easier to work with, a thinner, lightweight version—like the planks that Cindy of Edith & Evelyn Vintage uses here—can suffice just as well and will cut down on costs. To get the look in your own home, start by using a stud finder to identify the ceiling joists, then mark them with chalk. After painting or staining your wood to suit your style, apply Liquid Nails to the back of each of the wood planks, and then nail them into the ceiling joists with a nail gun. Although this project requires a friend or family member’s helping hand and a great deal of patience, you’ll be delighted with the results when you gaze in joy at your ceiling that (finally) reflects this decade’s design choices.


How To: Sand Drywall

Choose from two foolproof techniques to sand out any glaring drywall imperfections—lumps, ridges, and the like—so that you (and your walls) can enjoy a flawless finish.

How to Sand Drywall - Sand Drywall Before Painting

Photo: fotosearch.com

Drywall—commonly known as sheet rock—is one of the most popular construction materials used in finishing interior walls. Cheap, durable, easy to install, easily repaired—it’s no wonder that it’s a go-to for do-it-yourselfers and contractors alike. But while drywall installation is admittedly an easy DIY project, a few tips and techniques borrowed from the pros can make the difference between a smooth, attractive wall surface and one riddled with imperfections.

At the top of the list of important know-how is proper sanding technique. Without it, any dings, dents, creases, ridges, or lumps in the joint compound will be magnified once paint is applied, and uneven sections in the drywall can prevent wallpaper from adhering correctly. Here are two sanding methods designed to produce a flawless finish.

 

Option 1: Dry Sanding

Dry sanding is the typical method used to finish drywall joints, as it produces the smoothest finish—ideal if you plan on painting the drywall. But be warned: It does create an unavoidable dust storm in the middle of your home, which can sway homeowners to consider wet sanding (see further down) in cases where a smooth finish isn’t absolutely necessary.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Joint compound
- Putty knife
- Sanding block
- Sanding pole (optional)
- Sanding sponge
- Fine-grit sandpaper (120- to 150-grit)
- Flashlight or work light
- Pencil
- Wall primer
- Dust mask and goggles
- Plastic sheeting and tape
- Vacuum cleaner or shop-vac

How to Sand Drywall - Sanding Drywall

Photo: flickr.com via Georgia National Guard

STEP 1
Drywall sanding produces copious amounts of dust, but proper preparation can help keep the dust from infiltrating every nook and cranny of your home. Before you begin, assemble all tools in the room where you will be sanding, including extra joint compound and a putty knife to fill in any gouges or mistakes. Wear a dust mask and goggles to protect your face; you may want to cover your hair with a scarf and wear old clothes. If you have an exterior window, open it a crack to provide ventilation. Tape plastic sheeting across any doors leading to other areas of your home, as well as over the floor and any furniture in the room.

STEP 2
Affix a section of fine-grit sandpaper to the sanding block. You can purchase pre-cut sections that are designed to fit drywall sanders—anchor one end under the clamp and pull the sandpaper taut before tightening the clamp on the other side.

Attach the sanding block to a sanding pole, if desired, to better reach the ceiling or along the top edges of the walls. If you use one, though, be careful to keep the sanding head slightly angled—never completely perpendicular to the pole, to avoid gouging the surface.

STEP 3
Sand the joints, seams, and around screws lightly with the sanding block. A few pointers:

• Careful to not put too much pressure on the surface to avoid “fuzzing” the drywall or leaving sanding marks; sand the center of seams and joints just enough to remove ridges and bumps.

• Also avoid sanding in a straight line or going over the same area in the same direction, both of which can leave grooves or depressions. Instead, move the sander around in a curved motion.

Use a sanding sponge to get into the corners and around electrical boxes, again, applying light pressure to avoid damaging the drywall paper.

STEP 4
Shine a light parallel to the joints to reveal any gouges, grooves, or ridges. Mark these areas lightly with a pencil. Fill these areas with fresh joint compound, smoothing with a putty knife. Let dry completely, and then re-sand the area.

STEP 5
Prime the walls, then sand again lightly to remove any lumpy spots or paper fuzz.

STEP 6
Use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to clean up the drywall dust. If your vacuum has a pre-filter, use one designed to capture drywall dust and other fine particles.

How to Sand Drywall - Drywall Sander

Photo: fotosearch.com

 

Option 2: Wet Sanding

The biggest downside to drywall sanding is that it produces dust—a lot of dust! Wet sanding drywall avoids most of this mess and the associated cleanup. The catch? It does not produce quite as smooth a finish as dry sanding, and therefore is not suitable for walls that will be painted. If the final finish is wallpaper or texturing, however, consider wet sanding to save a lot of time. Just add a bucket (and a mop for any mess) to the materials list above, and you’re good to get started.

STEP 1
Prep your space following the suggestions in Step 1 of the dry sanding process. This time, fill up a bucket about half-full with warm water and place it with the rest of your tools. Then dunk the sanding sponge in the water.

STEP 2
Squeeze all excess water out of the sanding sponge, so that it is damp but not dripping. Work your sponge’s abrasive side in a large, circular motion to sand the joints, corners, screws, and around electric boxes. (Here, too, light pressure will help avoid creating grooves or gouges.)

Note: Every few minutes, dampen the sponge in the warm water. This will also give you a chance to wash out some of the dust that collects in the sponge as you go. Once the water becomes cloudy, pour out the old water and refill with fresh warm water.

STEP 3
Look for any gouges, grooves, or ridges with the help of your flashlight, then fill these areas with fresh joint compound and (when dry) sand the area lightly with your wet sponge. Once the wall dries thoroughly, you can cover with primer, sand, and apply your wallpaper or texturing of choice.


Bob Vila Radio: For a Warmer Winter, Run Your Ceiling Fans in Reverse

Ceiling fans are synonymous with summer, but they can also be a blessing during the winter. Continue reading to find out why.

Everyone knows that ceiling fans provide low-cost cooling in summer. But did you know you can also use ceiling fans to distribute heat throughout your home during the cold months?

ceiling-fan

Photo: Zillow Digs

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CEILING FANS or read the text below:

Warm air rises, so if you run your ceiling fans clockwise, at slow speed, they gently nudge hot air up toward the ceiling, and then toward the walls, and finally down to the chilly areas below.

To reverse the direction in which your ceiling fan rotates, simply flip the switch on the motor housing. Remember to always run the fan on low speed in winter, as the goal is to recirculate air, not to create a draft.

To save energy, turn off the ceiling fans in any rooms you’re not occupying—except if it’s an area near your thermostat. Here, a running fan helps the thermostats more accurately gauge the indoor temperature.

Lastly, note that if you have an open stairway, a ceiling fan there can work to transfer warm air from the stuffy second floor back down to the chilly ground level.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!


The Finishing Touch Homeowners Forget

If you're in search of the right molding to make a room look polished and complete, head over to The Home Depot, where you can pick up prebundled molding Pro Paks that offer convenience and cost savings of up to 40 percent.

Photo: fotosearch.com

In any remodel, the average homeowner tends to focus mainly on the end result, seldom understanding that overall success usually hinges on the handling of seemingly minor, insignificant details. Contractors know the fact of the matter: It’s the planning stage of a project that, to a large extent, determines the strengths and weaknesses of the outcome. For that reason, experienced pros encourage client participation early and often. Plenty of homeowners embrace the decision-making process with gusto, knowing more or less precisely what they would like to achieve. But even in the clearest vision for a given job, there are bound to be blind spots.

Take wall moldings, for example. While contractors appreciate their importance to the well-groomed appearance of a finished space, nonprofessionals rarely think of such things until the last minute, if they do so at all. Plus, even when directly addressing the question of moldings, the average homeowner may be at a loss as to which of the many options to choose. After all, there’s a great deal to consider, from the style of the home to the size of the room to the number and nature of moldings already present. Fortunately, there are a host of guidelines and rules of thumb to help simplify what might otherwise become a complicated, overwhelming choice.

Photo: homedepot.com

STYLE
Moldings come in a dizzying variety, from the ornate and detailed to the simple and clean-lined. Best practice is to take a cue from the prevailing architectural style; moldings look most natural when their profiles harmonize with the overall aesthetic tenor of the home. Though a molding with an elaborate profile may be eye-catching, it’s likely to look out of place in a contemporary context. By the same token, the minimalist profile suitable for a modern space would clash with the decorative flourishes of a century-old Victorian. In other words, thoughtfully chosen moldings complement the home without drawing undue attention.

PROPORTION
As important as it is to select an appropriate style, it’s equally important to choose moldings that are properly proportioned for the dimensions of a room. Designers buck convention all the time, but general practice is to let the height of the ceiling dictate the trim size. For rooms with standard eight-foot ceilings, choose slim (9/16-inch) moldings between three and six inches in height. Thicker, taller moldings may be considered where the ceiling reaches a more generous height. Also, where baseboard and crown moldings are installed together, be sure to specify the same size for both trim types in order to promote a visual balance.

CONSISTENCY
From one room to the next, tradition holds that there can be varying sets of molding types installed. That is, in the living or dining room, it’s not uncommon to find a full suite of wall trim, including baseboard, chair rail, picture rail, and crown molding. In a less formal room, meanwhile, you seldom see more than one or a couple of types of trim. But even though the number of moldings employed may differ according to the function of the room, homeowners are wise to avoid mixing styles. Size may vary, but throughout the home, keep to a uniform molding profile. Inconsistency never fails to create a discordant, unsettled look.

MATERIAL
Moldings come in a number of materials. Of them all, hardwood typically commands the highest price, especially when it’s “clear”—that is, free of knots and other imperfections. In cases where the homeowner specifies a stain finish, hardwood (usually poplar) makes the natural choice. If the moldings are to be painted, then multiple materials may be considered. Offering the look of wood at an affordable price is prefinished pine. Similarly budget-friendly are MDF (medium-density fiberboard) and EPS (expanded polystyrene) moldings, prefinished or pre-primed. Ultimately, the right choice of material depends, first and foremost, on the desired finish, and secondarily on the preference of the homeowner or the budget available for the project.

PRO PAKS
In more than 2,200 locations nationwide, The Home Depot offers moldings in a wide range of styles, sizes, and materials. Most notable are the retailer’s Pro Paks, which are premeasured and bundled in quantities in 60, 80, 120, or 160 linear feet. Their grab-and-go convenience saves you time, and Pro Paks also save you as much as 40 percent versus buying by the piece. Call or go online, and you can even arrange for your Pro Paks to be ready for you when you arrive at your local store.

As you plan your next remodeling project, make sure to think about moldings early to ensure that your completed spaces don’t look underwhelming and incomplete. You certainly don’t want to become aware of their vital role only when you notice their absence! So, the next time you’re trying to bring a project from almost-there to full completion, visit The Home Depot for handy Pro Paks that make it quick, easy, and cost-effective to add that crucial finishing touch.

Photo: homedepot.com

This post has been brought to you by The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


3 Fixes for a Hole in the Wall

Sure, you can go out and buy some spackle and a wire mesh patch to repair a hole in the wall—or you can use what you happen to have lying around at home with these 3 creative fixes guaranteed to leave your wall looking smooth again.

SHARES
How to Fix a Hole in the Wall

Photo: fotosearch.com

While drywall is highly durable, it’s not indestructible. Over the years, interior walls take a beating, speckled with everything from nail nicks to doorknob dings. During your tenure as homeowner—or even as an apartment renter—you’re bound to end up with at least one unwanted hole in the wall. But don’t despair—repair. Read on for three unexpected solutions for your unsightly wall blemishes that won’t have you running out to the store for supplies.

 

How to Fix a Hole in the Wall - With Toothpaste

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Minty-Fresh Method
Need to fill a nail hole fast? For small holes up to one inch wide, look no further than your bathroom’s medicine cabinet. Believe it or not, toothpaste works wonders. When the paste dries, it forms a finish similar to spackle. Just squeeze the white paste (not the blue gel) into the hole, and smooth it over with a putty knife.

If you don’t have the right paste, grab a bar of soap from the bathroom instead. Simply dampen the surface of the soap with water, then rub the bar over the shallow hole until filled. Not only will the damage seem to disappear with either of these fix-its, but your walls will smell wonderful too.

 

How to Fix a Hole in the Wall - With Super Glue

Photo: flickr.com via pete_gray

The Super-Strength Solution
For an even stronger, faster way to repair a hole in the wall, add a little baking soda to a drop of super glue to form a super-strength sealant. After quickly combining these two products with the help of a toothpick, immediately apply the mixture directly to the wall. After it dries, start sanding the hard, plastic-like finish until it’s flush with the wall. Not only is this fix effective for small holes, but it can solve cracks in corner walls too! One word of caution: Wear gloves and be sure that this super-strength, fast-drying glue never comes in contact with your skin. Otherwise, you may have an even bigger problem on your hands than a hole in the wall.

 

How to Fix a Hole in the Wall - With Flour Paste

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Floury Fix
For a doorknob-size hole roughly two to four inches in diameter, you’ll need more of a patch to clean up your damaged wall. Make yours from scratch with just a few simple kitchen items, including a recycled cardboard cereal box.

Start by cutting a thick piece of cardboard into a square that’s slightly larger than the hole you aim to fix. Then, poke two small holes through the center of the cardboard cutout and thread a short string in through one hole and out through the other. Push the cardboard through the wall hole keeping the string ends facing you and ensuring that all corners sit behind intact drywall. Pull the strings tight to hold the cardboard in place.

Next, mix together one tablespoon flour, one teaspoon salt, and a few drops of water to form a paste. Apply the mixture heavily to your cardboard patch so that it oozes around the square’s edges and binds it in place to the drywall. Allow the paste to set, and then pull out the string. Finish the patch with a second coat of the flour-based paste, and smooth it out flush with the surrounding surface.


Genius! This Hanger Hack Organizes More than Just Clothes

Are you storage-starved? Hang on! Functional storage doesn't have to cost a fortune. Find out how one clever DIYer found a free solution—in her own closet!

DIY Wire Hanger Shelf

Photo: superziper.com

In most of the Western world, Sunday is the day of rest—and that means different things to different people. Do you spend yours with a book, wrapped in your blankets like a burrito? Or are you a true weekend warrior whose home improvement project is the preferred form of meditation? Claudia, a DIY blogger for SuperZiper, falls into the latter category—so she spent her weekend considering how to fix a nagging source of frustration and dreamed up this super-simple shelf for her entryway.

The crux of the problem was forgetfulness: Claudia never remembered to grab her library books on the way out the door in order to return them. Inspired by a magazine feature, she decided to try to reshape a plain wire hanger—the kind you get back from the dry cleaners—to hold something else entirely. Folded at two points and secured with a nail, the pliable hanger becomes a repositionable rack, perfectly sized to display a record or a few of your favorite reads. Planning on using it like Claudia? Location is everything! She hung the shelf by the front door as a reminder, where it could also serve to hold incoming mail, outgoing bills, or even DVD returns.

Sure, clothes on thin, wire hangers are more likely to end up on the floor than neatly stowed away in your closet. But if you’ve been tossing away these free hangers for years in favor of sturdy, non-slip hangers, this hack may prove that it’s time to reconsider. Finally, a reason to hang on to them!

FOR MORE: SuperZiper

DIY Wire Hanger Shelf - Side View

Photo: superziper.com


Bob Vila Radio: Texture Ceilings to Hide Imperfections

Remodelers often use drywall compound, not only to secure and conceal joints between wall panels, but also to add visual interest. On ceilings, in particular, applying drywall compound can be, not only a decorative decision, but a strategic one as well. Read on for the DIY details.

Adding a little texture to drywall compound can go a long way toward hiding imperfections in ceilings. And it’s an easy process. Here’s how to do it.

Texturing a Drywall Ceiling

Photo: idealhomegarden.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON TEXTURING WITH DRYWALL COMPOUND or read the text below:

Pour a box of drywall compound into a 5-gallon bucket, then enough add water to achieve the recommended water-to-compound ratio. Blend the ingredients using an electric drill outfitted with a paddle mixer. The ideal consistency is lump-free and just a bit thicker than paint.

Next, dip a long-handled paint roller into the bucket, coating the nap with the mixture. Remove the excess by tapping the roller on the side of the bucket. Now, working in one small sections at a time, roll the mixture onto the ceiling. After that, drag a clean broom, a comb, or a different texturing tool across the surface of the ceiling to create the texture you want.

If you don’t like the results the first time, simply re-roll the area and have another go. Be sure you’re satisfied with the look in one area before proceeding to another. Don’t dawdle, though, as the mixture can be expected to dry pretty quickly.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


How To: Install Chair Rail Molding

Historically used to protect walls from being damaged by the seat backs of chairs, chair rails now serve primarily as a stylish embellishment. With these straightforward instructions, you'll be able to install chair rail molding in a weekend—and reap its visual and practical benefits for years to come.

How to Install Chair Rail

photo: zillow.com/digs

Sometimes the simplest updates make the most impact in a room—and chair rail molding is no exception. More than an easy way to add architectural interest and classic style to bare and basic walls, chair rail is also a fairly straightforward addition that most DIYers can tackle in a weekend. Follow our steps for installation, and give your space an embellishment to brag about.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Tape measure
- Chair rail molding
- Masking tape or pencil
- Level
- Compound miter saw or handsaw and miter box
- Hammer or pneumatic nailer
- Nail set
- 2-1/2-inch finish nails
- Wood glue or construction adhesive
- Wood filler
- Sandpaper
- Caulk and caulk gun
- Paint or stain

How to Install Chair Rail - Nailing

photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Before you purchase materials, determine how much molding you’ll need by measuring the length of your walls at the appropriate chair rail height. As a general rule, chair rail should be applied one-third of the way up the wall from the floor—so for a room with an 8-foot ceiling, installing the chair rail at around 32 inches is a safe bet. When considering how much to buy, make allowances for miter cuts and mistakes by adding about 1 foot to the length of each wall.

STEP 2
Shop around for your favorite style of molding, mindful of the room’s existing trim when making your selection. Installation will be easiest and will look best if the molding is similar to and no thicker than the trim around the room’s doors and windows. Whether you’re interested in a simple, restrained look or something more ornate, most big-box home improvement stores will carry a wide selection of molding to choose from. If you strike out there, though, a local millwork dealer or lumberyard is sure to have options that suit your style.

STEP 3
If you’re looking to paint or wallpaper your room, do that before you install the chair rail, and plan to touch up afterward as necessary. Next, find the wall studs and mark their locations with masking tape or a pencil. Then, use a level and measuring tape to draw a guideline around the room at the height where you want the chair rail to sit. If your floor is not level (a common issue in older or historic homes), you may need to split the difference between the guideline on the wall and a consistent measurement from the floor, otherwise the chair rail could end up looking crooked even if it is truly level.

STEP 4
Evaluate your space so you can figure out a plan of attack for cutting the molding to fit. If possible, start at a window or doorframe that requires only one piece of molding that can be cut at a 90-degree angle on both ends. For everything else, you’ll need to employ a few other cuts to create specific joints.

• If one of your walls runs longer than your longest piece of molding, connect two pieces with a miter joint. The two should join over a wall stud, so first measure along the wall and cut the moldings to a length at which they will overlap at the stud. The cuts should be at opposite 45-degree angles.
• For inside corners where one of the strips of molding has been finished with a square cut, you will have to cope the end of the connecting piece for a seamless joint.
• For outside corners, a miter joint formed from two matching 45-degree angles will do the trick. Not all outside corners are perfect right angles, however, so it’s best to use scrap pieces to test the corner angle before making the cut on your molding.

STEP 5
If you want to apply a stain to your molding, do so before attaching it to the wall, and touch up after as necessary. But if you want to paint the molding, it’s best to apply a coat of primer first, attach the molding to the wall, and then paint the molding once it’s set.

STEP 6
To install the molding, apply wood glue or construction adhesive to the back of the first piece and attach it to the wall, placing the bottom edge of the wood at the guideline you marked in Step 3. Secure each piece with two 2-1/2-inch finishing nails in line with each other. When you’re bringing two ends together in a miter joint, add extra wood glue at the joint, and complete the seam with two finishing nails into the studs. Use a nail set to recess the nail heads to achieve a smooth appearance. Continue with each piece until you complete the room.

STEP 7
Once you’re sure all nail heads are recessed, use wood filler to fill the holes and any gaps at joints. Then, lightly sand the filler and the joints. Apply a bead of caulk at the top and bottom edge of the molding where it meets the wall. Finally, complete any touch-ups or finish coats as necessary and step back to admire a job well done.


Bob Vila Radio: Plugging Leaks in Concrete or Masonry

Specially designed to block running water in concrete or masonry surfaces, hydraulic cement is the one weapon you need to fight a leaky foundation.

A special type of cement, similar to mortar and easy to use, hydraulic cement is handy for preventing water from seeping through your foundation and into the basement.

Hydraulic Cement

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HYDRAULIC CEMENT or read the text below:

Once mixed with water, hydraulic cement sets and hardens in a matter of a few minutes. (Hot water quickens the setting time; cold water slows it down.) It can be used, not just on horizontal surfaces like floors, but also on vertical ones like basement walls. And it doesn’t shrink, rust, or corrode. It’ll remain intact even if it’s submerged in water.

So what’s not to like? Well, a couple of things. For one, exposure to hydraulic cement can be toxic, so you need to wear protective gear. And you need to work quickly, as the mortar only remains workable for about 10 minutes once mixed. One other drawback: It doesn’t work on frozen surfaces, so be sure to make your repairs before winter sets in!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.