How to fit a Picture Rail
In this guide, we will showcase how to fit a picture rail. We have included a step by step guide and a video below:
Tools needed for fitting a picture rail
The first thing you need to decide is the position of the picture rail on your wall. A picture rail is generally fitted either 300mm or 500mm from the ceiling, depending on the height of the room. For standard 8-foot ceilings, installing picture rail 300mm from the ceiling is the way to go, though there is no hard and fast rule to go by so go with whatever you feel works best in the room.
Once you have decided where it is going to go, use a tape and pencil to make a mark on the wall at the required height. If it is to be placed 300mm from the ceiling, for example, measure 300mm down with the tape measure and use your pencil to mark that point on your wall.
Using a spirit level, create a straight line across the wall to act as a guide for the piece of picture rail you are installing. Place the spirit level on the mark you just created and use the centre bubble to make sure the spirit level is correctly positioned. Once that is all aligned correctly, extend the mark you made by adding more marks along the length of the spirit level at regular intervals. Repeat this process until the whole wall is marked out with guide markings.
The next step is to create a chalk line along the markings you have made to create a solid guideline that can be easily removed on completion of the job. To do this, hammer a pin or nail into the wall close to the corner where the picture rail will eventually be placed.
Attach one end of the chalk line to the nail, and extend the chalk line across the wall. Hold the other end with your fingers so that the line is flat to the wall, and running through all of the guide markings you have made in that section.
With your free hand, pinch the chalk line and pull it away from the wall by a centimetre or two and then release it. The chalk line will spring back onto the surface of the wall and deposit chalk dust in a perfectly level straight line across the wall.
It is a good idea to move along the line and gently blow off any excess chalk to tidy up the line before continuing.
You are now ready to fix the first piece of picture rail in position.
Take the piece of picture rail that you are about to fit, and apply grab adhesive (such as Griptite or Gripfill) to the back of the rail. Applying the adhesive in a continuous ‘squiggly’ line is the way we would recommend doing this.
Lift the piece of picture rail with the adhesive on the back up to the wall. Get one end of the picture rail close into the corner, ensure the centre of the picture rail is aligned with the chalk line and push the picture rail firmly against the wall. Immediately pin through the picture rail into the wall using a nail gun to secure the centre in position. (tip- have someone on hand to assist you by passing the necessary tools so that you do not have to let go of the picture rail during this process).
Continue to pin through the picture rail at regular intervals along the length to hold it firmly in position.
Fitting the second and subsequent pieces of picture rail is very similar to the first piece.
Start by marking out the chalk line in the same way as before, only begin the process by placing the spirit level BENEATH the piece of picture rail already installed (in the corner). Hold the spirit level so that the bubble indicates everything is properly aligned, and then make your guide markings along the length of the spirit level at regular intervals as before.
Once the markings are in place, repeat the process of applying the chalk line to the wall.
Because the first section of picture rail has been fitted tight to the corner, the second piece will need to be ‘scribed’ so that the first and second pieces can fit together properly and form a smooth internal corner.
You are going to use a mitre saw in a moment to create a 45-degree angle on the end of the picture rail that is going to be fitted next to the piece you just installed. To help ensure you do this correctly, take the second piece of picture rail and butt it up to the first in the corner. Then take a pencil and mark the direction of the cut you need to make on the top of the picture rail you need to cut.
Take this marked piece of picture rail over to your mitre saw, and use it to cut the end to a 45-degree angle. Once this is done, use a coping saw to cut out the profile from one end of the picture rail. If you are unfamiliar with scribing as a technique, we would really recommend watching the video tutorial in full before moving on from here.
Once the end has been scribed, you can continue to fit the picture rail using grab adhesive and pins as before.
Repeat the process for all remaining pieces of picture rail until the room is complete. When all of the picture rails
About the Author
Kieron Miller is the Managing Director of Skirting 4 U and has been working in the skirting board and online retail industry since 2012. Kieron has been using his extensive product knowledge and problem-solving experience to help both trade and private consumers all over the country find the perfect skirting board products for their projects. He continues to innovate new solutions and product ideas as the market continues to grow.