Chair rail's wide portion of profile: up or down?

Here's another question sure to bring out some snide comments about "standards".
So, for those of you who know your stuff, please offer your idea for orientation of chair rail: does the thick portion of the rail go up or down?
dave
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Hi Dave,
I'm not really all that expert on this stuff by any means, but if memory serves all the chair rails I can think of had the wide part on top. In my current house (an 1880 Victorian with molding everywhere) the chair rails are all symmetrical, so I can't really point at an example. The ones I'm thinking of often had some kind of highly decorative portion on the lower side (maybe a repeating spiral pattern or some flutes or something) topped with a nice bead detail or coves or something. I don't know if there is a "rule" or not, but it always looked good to me with the wider part (the bead in these examples) on top.
Not sure if this is helpful or not, but there ya go.
Take it easy,
Mike
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There are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.
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thanks, Mike. I put one piece up against the wall and thought it looked "right", but then I put it the other way and it looks ok too! My next door neighbors used baseboard as crown molding, but laid flat against the wall; not up on the ceiling. While attending a party at their home, I heard several people remark about how lame it was to use baseboard as crown. I don't want to nail it all together and find out I did it bass ackwards!
dave
Mike in Mystic wrote:

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I got curious so I DAGS and found this vendor:
http://www.wood-molding.com/Site_Map/Products/Moldings/Chair_Rail/chair_rail .html
(watch the URL wrap)
I know it isn't definitive or anything, but all of the profiles are shown with the wide part on top, so that probably is the way they are intended to be installed.
Mike
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PERFECT! thanks! I missed the "html" the first time. :)
that is the definitive answer, Mike! You are "Da Man".
Here's a tougher one: what color should I paint below the rail? <g> SWMBO and I have been experimenting with "rag on", "rag off", sponging "on" and "off", dry brushing. We WERE going to get wallpaper for wainscoting, but we couldn't agree on anything after looking at every book we could find... I'm almost prepared now to use a natural sponge and do a two color "sponge on" technique. Wish I was more of an artiste!
dave
Mike in Mystic wrote:

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Well, dave, as you seem to be "on the rag" more often than not, I'd go with that.
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You are gonna get smacked with my purse, if you don't mind your manners!
dave
Clu LeSnooby wrote:

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Bay Area Dave wrote:

Dave, you are definitely an 'Artiste". :>) Hank
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should I paint below the rail? <g>

My wife, who others say has a decorator's eye, has mandated that upper wall be painted with flat latex wall paint, while the chair rail, and other trim be painted with semi-gloss oil, for durability, and for the fact that the light sheen gives it extra life.
--
Jim in NC



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Morg, I JUST got back from HD with two cans of...drum roll...semi gloss to do the "sponging on"! Did I mention before I already bought 3 other quarts of deeply tinted paint and neither I nor SWMBO liked them on a sample board we played around with trying to get the "technique" down.
I painted the entire wall with satin. I would have used flat, but I was told go with satin or semi for the area that would have glaze applied later. I agree completely with your wife. I just didn't want to buy two cans gallons of paint--one flat for the top and one semi for the base coat of the wainscoting. Thank you for your input.
dave
Morgans wrote:

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down?
Depends upon what you like. Personally I like the thick end at the top so there's less area to catch dust.
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that's what I was thinking too--if it "looked" ok either way, I'd go with it "up" for the dust aspect.
dave
Norm Underwood wrote:

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If you want to go for a "custom" look, use a picture frame molding top and bottom and put the chair rail over that. DAGS on "built up moldings".
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Picture "rail" not frame.
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thanks! we can wrap this thread up already! I love it when I'm in the middle of a project and get such quick, useful feedback.
dave
Bay Area Dave wrote:

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I literally just finished Craig Savage's book on trim; wide side up. -ghe
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Dave's question has already been answered, and the consensus has been "wide side up", but why?
Is it simply eye pleasing proportions, a standard we've become accustomed to, or something else?
I found a reference that stated "Together, the chair rail, the wainscoting, and the base molding parallel the pedestal of classical design, where the chair rail is the cornice, with the fancy embelishment acting as the frieze, the wide board is the dado, and the base molding is the plinth" Ref: <http://jointer.oldetoolshop.com/woodwork2.html
This is borne out clearly by a diagram at <http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/T2.HTM where, if you look at the pedestal of the column, it is easy to imagine it as the portion of the wall under discussion. The chair rail (cornice) is clearly shown "wide-side up", the same as the cornice in the entablature or the abacus in the column's capital. Study of the classical column will answer a lot of questions, I found this particular diagram very helpful to understand how the various interior elements come together as a metaphor for the column.
What I did not find was a scale that would help with sizing the various components to a ratio that suits the architecture of a room so it looked balanced, though it must be out there somewhere - anyone?
Greg
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wrote:

On any trim element above the base, the part which protrudes the most goes up. It's all about the shadow lines.
Regards, Tom. Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania http://users.snip.net/~tjwatson
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