What Can I Use Instead Of A Chair Rail?

4 mins read
What Can I Use Instead Of A Chair Rail?

A chair rail is horizontal molding on the lower section of your home’s interior walls. And as the name suggests, its purpose is to keep the chairs from fully interacting with the walls, which could potentially damage them.

But if you find chair rails not aesthetically pleasing, are there any alternatives to the chair rail that can protect your walls from the furniture and chairs?

Here are some of the best chair rails alternatives you can use—ribbons, tiles, mats, wallpaper borders, wallpaper cutouts, fabric, leathers, and the most popular variety is wainscoting.

In this article, I will explain the specifications of these alternatives to help you determine which suits your preferences.

What Is the Point Of a Chair Rail?

A chair rail, also referred to as a surbase or dado rail, is a piece of wood installed horizontally on the lower section of the walls.

The purpose of the chair rail is to prevent the chairs and furniture from fully interacting with the walls.

Chair rails prevent the walls from damage like scratches or cause a depression to form due to constantly interacting with the furniture.

The piece of horizontal wood is a few inches above the floors. They also have an aesthetic purpose.

For example, the paint between the main wall and the lower end of the walls from the horizontal molding.

As a result, the variety of colors allows you to mix and match tones that balance the home’s interior design.

Do I Need a Chair Rail?

Aside from the decorative elements of the chair rail, they have a good purpose because it acts as a barrier from your wall to your furniture.

And it could save you from repair costs and headaches from scratches or related damages, especially if the walls have new paint or wallpaper.

In addition, you don’t have to install them in every part of the home if you are not a fan of the chair rails style. Instead, you can install chair rails in a room with a lot of furniture.

Does Chair Rail Add Value?

Yes, the humble chair rail can add value to your property. The tiny division of colors significantly balances the home’s interiors instead of sticking to one color only.

And the great thing about chair rails is that they are the least costly and most demanding installation.

What Can I Use Instead Of A Chair Rail?

What Can I Use Instead Of A Chair Rail - wainscoting

The most popular alternative to a chair rail is wainscoting. If chair rails are a single horizontal piece of wood, wainscoting provides a better decorative element.

It is a set of wood or molding fashioned to a specific pattern. Thus, you will find most of the rising above the standard height of 30 inches from the floor.

Alternatives To Chair Rails To Protect The Walls

Other than wainscoting, the following are other alternatives you can use to protect your walls from damage.


You can add upholstery to your walls that complement the colors of the walls and the fabrics of your furniture. A sewing machine can properly seal the edges of the fabric.

You can stitch them independently, but you must seal the upholstery properly.

And then, you can install the fabric using a glue gun. You can also use wallpaper or any other type of glue if it can affix the fabrics on the walls.


If you are using the chair rails for decorative purposes instead of their basic purpose, then you can use a ribbon to divide the two sections of the walls.

And you can install the ribbons by using a glue gun and sticking them on the walls.

But before you put them on your walls, you have to measure the sections and mark them to avoid any redo afterward.


Wainscoting is the most popular chair rail alternative

Wainscoting is the most popular chair rail alternative. And this is because it still provides the same purpose as a typical chair rail.

But its main advantage is that they are more aesthetically pleasing due to the variety of designs and patterns.

Wallpaper Borders

Wallpaper borders are home decorations placed between the walls and ceiling.

However, you can still use them as a chair rail and prevent the furniture from damaging the walls.

Wallpaper Cutouts

You can choose from various wallpaper cutouts that complement your home’s interiors.

Although they do not cover the entire room, wallpaper keeps the chairs from the walls.


tiles on the wall

Instead of wood, you can use tiles installed horizontally across the room’s walls. The great advantage of tiles is that you can choose from various colors and designs.

However, you must be careful with tiles since they are more fragile than wood.

Although it could prevent the furniture from damaging the walls, their constant interaction would break the tiles, leading to maintenance or repair expenses.


Using mats as a chair rail alternative doesn’t require any installation using any glue-related solutions that could damage the walls as well if you are unable to apply them properly.

All you have to do is to choose the set of mats that suits the interiors of the space and place them against the walls.


Leathers and suede are interesting wall decorations since they are uncommon yet stylish if installed properly.

In addition, they are softer and will not damage the furniture and chairs as well when it makes contact with the walls.

However, you must note that genuine leather can be quite expensive, and you must prepare your budget if you plan to use leather as chair rails.

You can also use synthetic leather if you don’t have the budget for genuine leather.

What Is the Difference Between Wainscoting and Chair Rail?

The main difference between chair rail and wainscoting is the design. Chair rails are a single line of wood installed on the walls a few inches above the floor.

On the other hand, wainscoting is a set of wood installed on the walls that bears a specific pattern. In addition, they are more than a few inches above the walls.

Is the Chair Rail Out Of Style?

Chair rails and wainscoting are still a trend in a modern home’s interior design up to this generation.

The colors and patterns it provides add texture and balance to the household, increasing the property’s value.

Allan Jason

Allan Jason is the maestro of the hammer and keyboard! With a knack for turning the mundane into the marvelous, Allan's writing transcends the ordinary. Whether wrangling power tools or conquering clashing color schemes, Allan's got a blueprint for turning houses into havens. Follow his witty wisdom, and you'll soon transform your space into a masterpiece, one entertaining blog post at a time. 🏠🛠️✍️

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