I’ve waited for a LONG time to bring you today’s post! We moved into our house 7.5 years ago. I have wanted to figure out how to remove chair rail for almost that long. I was scared of what we would find and that it would be a hard project. Well, I finally got up the courage to go for it.
You know what? It was another project, like my fireplace makeover, that was not too hard. I’ve got a tutorial with some tips for you if you want to remove chair rail in your house as well.
You ready to get rid of the old and bring this century in your home? Then let’s get to it!
This is what my home has looked like for about 6 or 6.5 years. Believe it or not the living room was painted a horrid green when we moved in. They prior owners left the paint behind. I found it…you guys…the actual paint color for our living room, master bedroom and bathroom was called Swamp Water! Why, why, why would anyone paint their home the color of swamp water? Anyway, moving on. We painted almost every surface in our house in the first year or so that we lived here. We also changed out every light fixture, light switch and electrical outlet. It was all to update the house.
I never planned to live here this long. I was just doing the simple fixes to make the house more likeable for the time that we lived here. Well apparently, we are going to be here a LOT longer than I planned and than I want to be here. So, I may as well go for round two on the house. Make it really reflect me, my style and what I like. My husband is totally thrilled with the upcoming work. Hehe! 😉
Anyway, all of that said, to say that the entire downstairs has this chair rail that I have disliked since we moved in. I also dislike the color of the trim. Time for change!
If you have chair rail that you would like to remove, it is actually a fairly simple process to remove it. There is work involved and work involved to get things ready to paint once the chair rail is removed, but overall the actual removal is not that hard.
Your first step is to use a utility knife and score the caulking both on top and bottom of the chair rail.
I talked with an employee at Lowe’s about how to tackle this project. He gave me the low down and suggested that it would be easier to accomplish using the Wonder Bar versus a typical crow bar. I’m all for making things a bit easier, so I bought the Wonder Bar.
Once you have scored your caulking, gently begin to insert the Wonder Bar between the chair rail and the wall. Take your time and be patient with this process, which is the hardest part for me! Slowly, you will see that you are able to get some traction with your bar and wiggling it in between the railing and the wall.
Make sure you work all the way down the length of your chair rail rather than in just one area. Keep working gently working the chair rail away from the wall.
Make sure you are gentle with the Wonder Bar as you work. You don’t want to use too much pressure and put holes into your drywall. That will equal more work later on…so let’s avoid that. Even if you are like me and you feel like just giving it a huge tug, resist the urge and go slow. Trust me, you will be glad to have less patch work later.
Some walls will be easier than others. As you can see, you will be able to get to the point that the chair rail is loose and away from the wall.
Keep working as evenly with the piece as you can. You still need to loosen all the nails and get it completely away from the wall. For some of the longer walls/pieces, it will be helpful to have another person hold the loose end while you work your way down the wall.
Throughout the process, once you can gauge or see where the nails are in the wall, use those points as your best place to get some leverage and work the chair rail out.
We found the corners to be the most challenging places because they were held tight together. You just have to go slow and be as gentle as you can, but you may end up needing to patch a little bit in the corners, if your corners are like ours.
When you remove the chair rail, make sure to hammer the nails out or hammer them flat so that no one can get hurt on all those sharp nails sticking out of the boards.
When you are done, you will have the nail holes to patch. You will also most likely have other things that need patching as well. Our corners were tight and we ended up with some holes in the corners.
Because our chair rail was so wide, we also ended up with areas like you can see on the fireplace we recently painted. Just small touch ups of paint will be needed for those types of areas. We did end up with areas that looked like that on all of the trim around our doors and windows as well. I was already planning to paint the trim, so it was fine with me. If you aren’t planning to paint the trim around your windows and doors, just know that you will need to stain or touch up paint in those areas.
Here is what we were left with. Obviously, we need to patch the nail holes and the other areas I already showed you, but I am so happy with the change! I really didn’t like that chair rail. 1 room done….how many more to go downstairs? Oh let’s not think about that right now….here is why.
So, this is what my living room looks like now. All the furniture is still away from the walls and mostly in the middle of the room. Don’t you love progress? Well, the chair rail is down. The trim in this room is now painted white. I love it! It is progress, right? Yep.
Next we need to patch all the nail holes, then we need to paint the walls. I will show you my tips for finishing this project as I get it done. I’m not exactly sure when that will be, but I promise to show you the next steps. Can’t wait to also change out the art work in my living room. I’ve got lots of fun ideas coming your way (and mine)!
What DIY projects have you taken on that you were afraid of? Were they as bad as you thought? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.
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