past & present

Architectural Details: Dado Rail

by Amy Azzarito


Text by Amy Azzarito. Design by Maxwell Tielman.

As a renter, I’ve never lived in apartments with very much architectural detailing and it’s not really something that I want to invest in. But if you do own your home and want to add architectural detailing – after you’ve beefed up the crown moulding – the next step is usually some kind of dado or chair rail. The word comes from Italian meaning “die” (as an architectural term). Classically, it referred to that space between the base and the cornice of a pedestal.  Historically, paneling was installed below the dado rail, covering the lower half of the wall, which was subject to stains. Also, the dado rail provided protection from furniture, in particular, the backs of chairs (which is why it is known as a chair rail). If you’re looking to install a dado rail, does a much better job than I could ever do in explaining the proportions. –Amy

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Droits-Humains reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.