Paint White Below Chair Rail

cosiegirlApril 11, 2011

Hi everyone, first post. Have been reading here for the past couple of weeks and found a lot of great info but can't find anyone who has done what I am thinking.

We are repainting our whole house which we bought last summer and which feels trapped in the 80s. It's been an ordeal as there have been more problems and disappointments than we ever anticipated. For my own sanity, I really need to get things looking better but the budget is tight.

Anyway, we stripped wallpaper off the DR and entryway and were left with messy walls which we are in the process of repairing (mudding, sanding, etc). Both rooms have a chair rail and I would love to do a faux board and batten but just don't want to spend the time now as I really need to get all the other rooms painted. But I was thinking I could sort of get the look I like by just painting the walls below the chair rail white with a darker beige above. At a later date we could always go back and do the faux B&B.

Has anyone painted a two-tone wall with white below the chair rail? I thought of doing it in semi-gloss to get the look of B&B/wainscoting but with all the repair work on the walls I'm afraid that might show too many imperfections so I was thinking of trying satin paint. Still, I can't seem to find anyone who has done this - what am I missing?

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I must admit I have never seen board and batten done below a chair rail. Is it possible you mean beadboard?

I think you will find there are many people who have done a two-tone paint treatment like that. But perhaps if there are going to be many imperfections in the wall, the better thing would be to paint the whole wall the same color, rather than draw more attention to it, and just paint your chair rail in your trim color for now.

Beadboard is not necessarily a gloss finish, by the way, so don't be concerned about that.

Good luck with everything. It is never as simple as we anticipate, is it?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Unless you have a very large room, white below and dark above tends to make a room "lean in"....that is the top dark part of the walls will appear nearer than the bottom part.
I would paint both parts the same color and perhaps do a bit of faux texturing on the part below the chair rail.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:09AM
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In my 1913 dining room, I have the original stamped tin below the chair rail. I wanted the tin to stand out and not be the same color as above the rail. I struggled with what color to paint it but finally decided on an off white with yellow undertones that is a different white than the trim. Above it and on the ceiling is a Laura Ashley gold.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:50AM
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les917: yes, people have done a faux B&B using an existing chair rail just by adding in some vertical lattice pieces. Maybe pseudo-faux B&B is a better term?

Linda: I understand what you are saying, but I like the look like in the picture above. I'm wondering if I can get the same feel without the texture. But I have noticed most people seem to prefer the darker color on the bottom. I like the opposite in pictures, but maybe in real life I won't?

marita40: That room is lovely! I wonder if a similar feel can be accomplished without the texture (tin).

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:46AM
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I love the look of board and batten like you described!! However, we don't have the time nor do we want to allocate our limited funds to that at this time so we always do white below the chair rail and a color above. I do not generally care for the look of anything other than white below the chair rail. It brightens up a room so much to have white below! I actually think it makes the room open up and feel larger, not lean in -- especially for smaller rooms. I've done this in all three houses that I've owned. It gives you the same look as board and batten below but without the added dimension/texture. We do semi-gloss below but our walls are in very good condition.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:54AM
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I'd say Marita40's beautiful room is a great "mockup" of just what yours would look like, since the texture of the stamped tin doesn't show on here.....not on my screen, anyway. So that's what yours would look like! Good 'nuff until you can get the woodwork done, imo...if you like marita40's. I must disagree with linda re small rooms. We have 3 bedrooms and a den...all about 16X12 ish, and they all are white below the chair and color abov, with white crown gorgeous...imnsho! :>) Just go for it!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:09PM
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I've also done this, both with picture frame molding below, and without. I think it looks great, and I agree that it does not make the room appear to lean in. Here is my living room with just white (no picture frame molding below). Hard to see because furniture is up against wall, but hopefully you get the idea.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:55PM
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I always like to see white beadboard/wainscoting at the bottom half of the wall.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Great, glad others think it will work and/or have done it. Thanks for the picture! I'll start with just white walls and hopefully can add trim some time in the future.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:58PM
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Our dining room has chair rail with white below. There is picture frame moulding placed on the lower wall so it looks like expensive wainscoating.

In other areas of our home we have beadboard below the chair rail that is painted white with a color on the top half of the wall.

I definitely think that white below the chair rail works just fine.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 5:09PM
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"It brightens up a room so much to have white below! I actually think it makes the room open up and feel larger, not lean in -- especially for smaller rooms. "

I agree completely. White on the bottom half is a very classic, finished look to me. I don't understand les's reply, since I have only seen B&B BELOW a chair rail. I think it will look good white until you get around to the faux B&B treatment, but lovely when you get time to finish it.

I don't think the finish of paint will matter much, but wainscoting/B&B/other wood treatment is typically done to match trim (which is slightly glossy, right?) My hubby did a wide beadboard & chair rail in a couple rooms.... when it was just a flat, white primer, it still looked good :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 7:24PM
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Last weekend I bought paint for my dining room. I love the color, but in the back of my mind I question if it might be too dark. These pictures have provided another option. If I feel it IS too dark, I think I'll try to mimic the moulding shown by dawnp! Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:22PM
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You're welcome Amj!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:36PM
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I have white below in my very small sitting room~ I don't feel that it makes the room look smaller or more closed in at all.

Here it is in my DR as well:

Good luck with your makeover and don't forget to share the outcome~ :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 6:15AM
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Wow, you guys have such pretty homes. Even once I'm done I don't think I could share pictures.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 8:43AM
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I have done white below in my last 2 dining rooms. The first was a green above and this house has a chocolate brown above. I absolutely love it. I also did a board and batten treatment in my upstairs hallway with gray above and I love it too! I definitely like the look of color above/white below.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:00AM
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I like a lighter color below a chair railing too. Beautiful homes!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 10:43AM
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All of these pictures are beautiful!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:05AM
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I painted our family room with white satin below the chair rail and love the results! The top half of the wall is Benjamin Moore's Rodeo. I also painted the fireplace white to match.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:29PM
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We are in the process of doing this in our sitting room (SMALL living room). The paint above will be a sandy beige. We've already done this in a bedroom with blue above. A semi-gloss white is so easy to keep clean, take a Magic Eraser to or do touch-up painting on.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Here is a site with DIY B&B that might give you more info. I think for now you could paint the bottom white and add white boards when you are able to. I really like the look.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to B&B

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:00PM
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