How to fit a dado rail

dado rail is a wooden moulded rail that runs around a room at waist height. They are often painted the same colour as the skirting board and architrave. A dado rail can be used to split the wall in two sections, allowing for two colours to be used or for you to use wallpaper and a colour on the same wall. Dado rails can be used to fool the eye into thinking the room is larger, by using a strong colour at the bottom and a lighter one above, which makes the room appear to open out.

When fitting a dado rail, you need to consider the appropriate height. If you are replacing an old rail, you should refit at the same height.

If you are adding a dado rail to the room for the very first time, you should fit it at around 1 to 1.2 metres high from the floor. If you have very tall ceilings, place the rail higher. If you are using wallpaper in your room with a large repeating pattern, you could use this to help you decide where the rail should go.

Making a measuring mark

Once you have decided what height the rail needs to be placed at, mark in each corner where you want the rail to sit.

Use a long, straight edge and a spirit level; mark the walls all the way around in pencil.

You can also use a laser level in the centre of the room, using the corner marks to gauge the correct height. If you don’t have a laser level device, many reputable tool hire shops will be able to lend you one.

When attaching a dado rail on the stairs, measure the appropriate height at the top and bottom step and at a right angle to the stair, mark in chalk where the rail needs to sit all along the stair set.

Cutting the dado rail timber moulding

Buy an excess of dado rail, 10% more than you actually need to account for cuts. Start with the longest piece. If the wall is longer than your longest piece, use a mitre joint to put them together and make sure that the dado rail is fixed to the wall nearby.

Use mitre joins for the corners. Make sure that you use the correct join, external and internal mitres.

Attaching the dado rail

Use screws to attach the dado rail to the wall if it is a masonry wall. Depending on how you intend to finish the dado rail, you can use dowel to hide the screw or filler.

Fit the rail 30cm from each corner. Attach the dado rail to the wall every metre or so. Mark where you will attach the rail on the rail and the wall before removing the rail to drill fixing holes.

Start with the longest, straightest wall and then work your way around.

To finish, cover all of the screws with dowel or filler, then sand, paint or varnish as appropriate.