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How To Remove a Chair Rail

When we moved into our home there was a chair rail in EVERY room. I’m not even exaggerating. The living room, the dining room, all bedrooms, the family room, kitchen and even the bathrooms!

I don’t mind chair rails, but in every room is a bit excessive. I have slowly been removing them as I see fit when I repaint a room. I removed it from our family room and my daughter’s nursery and now we are in my son’s room.

I consider myself a little bit of a pro on taking off a chair rail. I used to just wing it and then I would end up with more damage than I hoped. So here are my tricks and steps to taking off a chair rail with minimal damage!

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How to Remove a Chair Rail

The first thing you must do for minimal damage. Using a utility knife, go along the top and the bottom of the chair rail to cut any caulk and any wood that is stuck to the paint on the wall. Leaving you with less peeling of sheetrock layers.

How to remove a chair rail

Then using a sturdy putty knife gently wedge it behind the chair rail preferably where there is a nail or close to it. Using a screwdriver or, trim puller, put the screwdriver on the putty knife using that as a block. If you didn’t use the putty knife and just started to pry it off you would leave more dents or even holes in the wall from the screwdriver.

Move along the rest of the chair rail prying it off. Hopefully it will come off easy with little damage.

How to remove a chair rail

Sometimes you might have a spot the peels, that’s okay you have to fill in the nail holes anyway the peeling will be an easy fix if it’s small.

I then start the layering of spackling paste, I like Dap Dry Dex because it goes on Pink and turns white when it’s dry, going over the holes and any spots that need to be repaired. Work in thin layers sanding in between and add layers as needed.

How to remove a chair rail

Once the last coat is dry give it a final sanding. I like to use sanding sponges. They are easy to hold and work really well.

Once smooth, you NEED to prime. You should always prime new sheetrock and spackle. If you don’t prime it will suck in the paint and create splotchiness.

My whole trick is using the putty knife to protect the the wall and I pry off the chair rail. Before I would not use anything and I would leave large holes in the wall from my screwdriver or hammer working the chair rail off!

If you don’t have a putty knife to use as leverage, you can also use a felt pad on the back of a hammer to prevent scraping/denting the wall when prying the chair rail off.

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Friday 6th of August 2021

[…] followed a tutorial over on Just Call Me Homegirl which was super easy and got the rail off the wall in no time.  We did have to go back over […]

Stephanie Cole

Monday 9th of September 2019

I don’t usually leave comments but my house is exactly like yours... chair rail molding in every room! Thank you for your tip, I’m so excited to try it out and re-do my little Airbnb guest room!

L Pirt

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

Hi read ur post about chair rail removal. Would this still work on mine if been on for 20 years


Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Does this leave a smooth line around the room? Just wondering if there will will be a texture difference with the bumpy wall and where the sanding happened


Monday 22nd of October 2018

Nope that's why you sand. If it's bumpy sand again!


Monday 20th of August 2018

I want to remove some chair rails, but one of them is on a wall that is part of a vaulted space....VERY high! Any chance I can get away with removing the rails but NOT repainting the whole wall? Maybe tape above the chair rail line and just paint from there down.....or would that be noticeably awful? Thanks!

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