DRDO: Against the Rails

And now back to our regularly schedule blog post about the dining room do over.  So far we’ve pulled some wall paper, prepped the walls, painted the walls, and stenciled.  The room is already looking completely different from when we started.  We knew the room needs a few finishing touches to make it look more polished—chair rail and ceiling medallion.

We were doing fairly well with our timeline until Greg decided to kill a bug . . . and we lost hours of prime dining room time.

Friday morning we were up bright and early to measure and cut chair rail.  We had been to Lowe’s the day before to pick out our chair rail.  Once in the lumber aisle we decided that the standard chair rail wasn’t something we wanted since the room seemed so grand with the stenciling.

Maybe not to you, but it seemed very grand to us.  In the end, we decided to go big or go home with our purchase and splashed out on chair rail which cost us about $24 for an eight foot length and we needed three.

I’ll tell you now that we messed up.  We didn’t need three lengths, we needed four!  We knew the correct number but when you calculating a bunch of numbers random ones get stuck in your head (especially when you are starving for a nice Chipotle lunch).  Our tip to you is to write the number down on a piece of paper making sure they are nice and bold.

Very bold.

Heck, write them on your hand so that when you are paying, you can double check.

Now back to the dining room.  Greg went around the room with Mr. Level to draw his placement lines.  This is when we encountered our first problem of the morning (the wood shortness was problem numero tres), one side ended up being about an inch and a half higher than the other.

No idea how this happened because it was level.

We debated for about 20 minutes what to do and decided to mark the wall at a certain height and try to keep it mostly level.

The “mostly level” part took Greg 19 minutes to accept.  Never ask a mechanical engineer to do something sort of kind of when it comes to measuring.

Greg made a wood shop out of our garage with his father’s compound miter cuter (with optional carpet supports.)  He even hooked the shop vac up to it so that it sucked all the dust.  This tool was amazing because it was fast and easy.

Remember to use safety glasses when cutting wood.

We had our first piece an decided to do something really cheesy– we wrote ourselves a message. Yeah, it’s dorky but it’s a nice reminder of something we worked so hard on.

After our cheesy moment, we put some liquid nails on it and started hammering with our 1.5” nails, placing the long nails where there was a stud..  They weren’t long enough (Problem dos).  Fortunately when he moved in, his dad bought him a kit full of different size nails, so we powered through.

Ok, full disclosure–  Greg printed out directions for hanging chair rail and it said to use a 2.5” length nails.  We being the home repair experts thought that was too long, so we bought shorter ones.  Guess the professionals were right.

A few walls done when we realized there wasn’t enough chair rail (problem tres).  So we stopped for lunch.

Insert chair rail/nails errand here.

And we’re back from errands and get back to work.  It takes us the rest of the afternoon to install all the chair rail.  Even unpainted, it looks great.

After installing chair rail, you need to caulk . . . on our freshly painted walls.


Side note: Install chair rail first and then paint.

Caulking along the bottom wasn’t a huge issue because the caulk is white as are the walls.  Caulking along the top meant we had to get creative.

First we tried painters tape.

Nope, didn’t work.

Then Greg ended up winging it and praying.  I would wipe up with a damp rag once he finished a section.

This took hours.

And hours.

And hours.

And then a few more hours for wood filling and sanding.

When you look around, the struggle was worth it.


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