Is Chair Rail Outdated? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

The molding in a home can say a lot about the previous homeowner and the era that which it was built. You may not associate chair rail molding with modern homes, that is until you come across one. So, is chair rail outdated?

Chair rail molding is not outdated and can even add value to a home. Modern homes often feature a chair rail that measures between 28” and 48” off of the ground. You can modernize your chair rail if you create contrast and paint a different color than the wall.

Carefully measure your wall and ceiling height to get the right dimensions for chair rail molding. Chair rail molding looks modern even if you don’t install it to protect your walls. Follow along as we explore why chair rail is not outdated.

Is Chair Rail Outdated?

Chair rail is not outdated and you can find it in many modern homes. This type of molding once protected walls from the back of chairs. Chair rails can still protect your walls from chair marks, but now homeowners install them primarily for the style.

They haven’t changed over the years, but you may find a chair rail at a different height now. Chair rails typically started at the traditional height for old chair backs. However, tastes have changed and the average chair is smaller or has a shorter back.

Now, chair rails exist primarily as decorative molding that you can install at any reasonable height. You can find most modern chair rails roughly 32” above the floor. However, you can adjust the height to suit the dimensions of your wall, ceiling, and chair if you use it for that purpose.

How High Do Chair Rails Go?

Homeowners generally place chair rails between 28” and 72” from the ground. The height of a chair rail varies based on the height of your walls and ceiling. Modern homes with standard dimensions can benefit from a 32” tall chair rail.

However, you can find chair rails as short as 24”, but that is less common and functional. Measure the dimensions of your wall, ceiling, and chair to calculate chair rail height. The sweet spot for most homeowners is 28”-48” because that offers protection from chairs and also compliments the space.

Adjust your chair rail height to the height of your ceiling. Many modern homes have chair rails that extend as tall as halfway up the wall. This allows you to enjoy the aesthetic of the molding and still protect your walls from scuff marks.

Does Chair Rail Add Value?

You can add value to your home if you install chair rail molding. There is no specific value that molding can add to a home, but it is attractive to buyers. Install crown molding or a chair rail to boost your home’s value without spending thousands of dollars on an addition.

Why to Add Chair Rail to Your Home

Maybe you have been wrestling with whether or not to install chair rail in a room (or multiple rooms) in your home. So long as it fits your design aesthetic, there are more than a few reasons why you would want to add chair rail to your home.

Believe it or not, it can give you a wider array of design options to work with and even bring a bit of elegance to your overall design. Let’s get to the reasons why to add chair rail to your home.


There are plenty of home improvements that you can make throughout the life of the home. Of them, chair rail is among those that is the least demanding in terms of labor and costs. That said, there have been studies that show that homes with moldings – like chair rail or crown moldings – have a positive impact where price is concerned.

If you plan on selling your home anytime in the near future, it may behoove you install chair rail. Chair rail is particularly popular in dining room settings and would tie into the overall aesthetic of the home most seamlessly there.


Even if you don’t plan to move anytime soon, chair rail can still make for a great option. For starters, chair rail gives the room a natural division point. We don’t necessarily notice that kind of stuff right off the bet but it does play a role in how we see the room at large.

Having a split design can be great way to create more cohesion between colors and provide a sense of stability. It also helps break up the monotony of single-color walls. Not to mention that chair rail, when done right, can look quite elegant especially in a traditional design motif.

Multiple Design Options

A typical wall generally only has one color or pattern that runs all the way from the baseboard up the ceiling. Implementing multiple patterns may not always work and it can wind up being a lot of work to make it happen anyway.

But installing chair rail can give you a multitude of options stylistically. You can go with a darker color above and a lighter below or vice versa. Having contrasting color means having different style options than you would traditionally have. You can even wallpaper the section below the chair rail and then paint the upper portion as well.

The limitations are with your imagination. You can create different styles with this natural separation and explore the scenarios to find a look that truly fits your wants and needs.

Summing it Up

Chair rail molding is not outdated and it doesn’t date a home. Modern homes often feature chair rails that measure 32” above the floor. However, there is no designated minimum or maximum chair rail height.

Chair rails generally turn a positive return on investment when you sell your home. Measure your wall and ceiling dimensions to determine the height before you install a chair rail. Don’t rush to tear out a chair rail if you move into an older home because they fit in perfectly with a modern aesthetic.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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