How to Add a Dado Rail to a Wall

DISCLAIMER – I was kindly gifted the dado rails used in this makeover by The Skirting Board Shop. I have worked with them before and all our skirting boards at home are from the same company. I was not asked to do this post but absolutely love the product and the company, so I am happy to share the details with you.

As you may have seen in my earlier post where I shared my thoughts on a dado rail, that I absolutely love this design feature!! There was no surprise that I decided to incorporate it in our home and decided to give our hallway a little facelift with a modern twist.

We decorated this space pretty much as soon as we moved in and went very, very neutral and dare I say played it ‘safe‘. Having lived almost four years in the house we are only now slowly realising what we like and what we want to have in our home (to see more on this subject read my post on how to find your decorating style). . The hallway was lacking character so I decided to give it plenty of that by adding this decorative element and create a statement in our entrance.

I used the 18mm dado rail and worked my way to the inside of the house. I started with the straight bit, which was the easiest in our porch area. The most important thing to remember is to measure, measure and measure again before cutting!

First decide on the height of the dado rail. There is a ‘standard‘ height suggested on many websites, but go with what you want – it’s your house!

I decided to go with 102cm height. This was actually a fluke because I thought I was being clever as I measured my mother-in-law’s dado height which was 112cm. When I went to measure our house I kept thinking 102 102 102… and by the time I marked the walls, it was too late I was too lazy to change it. BUT 102 actually looks a lot better SO as someone once said.. there are no mistakes just happy accidents!

I used my mitre box and hacksaw for this project and the mitre saw when things got a little trickier and I needed a weird degree angle (going up the stairs!) The straight bits were easier to do, just measure and cut the piece then attach them in place with grip adhesive and tack in place with braid nails. Use your spirit level to make sure the dado rail is completely level as you go along.

The corners (inside and outside) were trickier. I measured the lengths and cut at 45 degree angles for the corners to meet (remember caulk and wood filler will hide any gaps if the walls are not completely square!). The inside corners were trickier. Measure the length and then cut at 45 degrees, then using a small saw you must cut out the wood so that this part can slide onto the dado that is on the wall and tuck in nicely in the corners like this.

The staircase was the trickiest part!!! We measured the wall and the step, then marked the wall.

As you can see it took us a while to figure out.

The angles were also slightly different to the norm, it will depend on your wall, the height of the dado rail and the angle. It took me a long time to work it out. I didn’t !! After a few hours wrecking my brain we called our friend Mikey who is a joiner. Within 5 minutes he cut me two templates for the angles to use on the mitre saw.

Basically he said it was all about ‘playing around with the saw’ and trying to work out the correct angle to fit. One piece was around 22.5 degrees the other one around 21 degrees. The dado new fit like a glove! I attached the dado rail using an adhesive and my nail gun (our walls are stone so I relied on the adhesive massively and nails were only to keep the dado rail from moving).

The next day, once the adhesive had dried, I caulked the top and bottom (our walls are very uneven and not really square as it turns out).

I filled the gaps, sanded and it is ready to paint!! You can view the full hallway reveal here.

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