how to install picture rail moldingTraditional and Victorian Style

These instructions show you how I installed this picture rail molding on q kitchen brick wall.

I was only going to install it as an accent above the wainscoting, but it looked so nice after I painted the dark blue border below it that I extended it into the rest of the kitchen.

It’s very easy to install, and is a totally functional picture rail that you can hang pictures or other decor from.

Here’s how I did it.

[This is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]

Materials Needed to Install This Picture Rail


This picture rail is a bargain at $0.97/lf.

Pay close attention to how nice the resolution is on this molding.  If your supplier does not carry a molding with lines this crisp, then go find one that does.

More about PR-001 here >>

picture rail molding poplar

$0.97/lf (48 feet) = $46.56

Frieze Dimensions

I installed our picture rail molding so that the very top is 3-1/4″ below the bottom of the crown molding buildup.

I wouldn’t recommend you go any more than 4″ of frieze — the space between the bottom of the crown molding and the top of the picture rail molding, though you could make it less than that if you want.

how much space picture rail molding below crown molding

But if you are going for a Victorian style design in your home, then you can make the picture rail height where ever you want, as there seems to be no hard and fast rule for its placement below the crown molding.

In fact, for Victorian designs you don’t even need a crown molding above.  Most homes during that era had plaster walls, and so a picture rail molding was as much practical as decorative since you could not hammer nails into the plaster.

This frieze can be painted the molding color so that your crown will look larger than it actually is, or you can install a border paper in there, or you can do like we did — paint it an accent color.

How to Install the Picture Rail on the Brick Wall

Step 1  Cut Molding to Length and Test Fit

Our picture rail molding came in two, 8′ lengths, and so we had to join them in the middle of the wall.

I cut them to the exact lengths and then test fit them in place.

how to install molding on brick wall

Yours truly test-fitting the picture rail molding.

Step 2  Drill Screw Holes in Molding

Drill screw holes in the molding where you want the concrete anchor screws to go through.

Step 3  Drill Screw Holes in Brick Wall

With the moldings held firmly in place, use a pencil to mark the center of the hole where you need to drill into the brick wall.

Important Drilling Note:  Unless you have a hammer drill to make drilling into the brick easy, then try to drill into the mortar instead.

The picture below shows me trying to drill into the brick.  I drilled for a long time with several sharp new bits, and barely made a dent in the brick.

I reoriented things a bit so I could drill into the mortar, otherwise I’d still be there today trying to drill into the brick.

install moldings on brick wall

Try to drill your holes into the mortar rather than the brick. Unless you have a hammer drill, then forget what I just said.

Step 4  Glue and Screw the Molding to the Wall

I wanted our picture rail molding to be firmly attached to the wall.  So that if Jennifer wanted to hang something really heavy from it she could without fear of it crashing down during dinner.

To that end, I used lots of Loctite’s heavy-duty PL construction adhesive on the back of the molding, and then screwed it in place.

how to install molding on brick wall

install molding on brick wall

Don’t forget to counter-sink the screw holes.  I filled them with spackling after I primed the molding.

how to install molding on brick wall

Below  The brick wall was pretty uneven, so I used lots and lots of construction adhesive to make sure it made contact with the uneven brick.

You can see how some squished out below the molding.  That’s OK, just let it dry before cutting it out with a utility knife rather than smearing it all over before it sets.

how to install molding on brick wall

Below  That’s all there is to it.  Now I’ll prime the whole thing white.

how to install molding on brick wall

The picture rail rests on top of the pilasters.

Creating a Focal Point with Moldings and Color

The elaborate moldings on the brick wall were meant to be a focal point to help separate the dining area from the utility part of the kitchen.

Priming them white and then living with them for a few days helped us decide if we wanted a simple paint scheme or a more layered paint scheme.

At this point we were sure we wanted more color, so we looked through all of our historic home books again looking for color inspiration.

how to install molding on brick wall

Living with all white moldings for a few days can help you decide if you want more color.

how to install molding on brick wall

This paint scheme was our original vision for the dining room moldings.

Sure enough, after of few day of just white moldings, we knew we wanted more color.

After looking through all of our historic home books we knew we wanted to paint the wainscoting something other than white.  And once we zeroed in on the works of Robert Adam, in particular his rooms in Osterley Park, we knew we were on the right track.

Below  It didn’t take long once I put three coats of dark blue paint on the frieze before we knew we wanted the picture rail molding to continue around the room.

how to paint moldings on brick wall

A paint scheme inspired by Robert Adam’s, The Temple of Pan, at Osterley Park.

So I set to work scribing installation lines on the wall.

modlings for small rooms

A scribe block and #5 mechanical pencil helps with molding layout.

Below  The first step was to cut a 45 degree miter to cut a cope joint out of that would fit on top of the molding in the above picture.

how to cope picture rail molding

Below  This cope joint should fit neatly on top of the installed picture rail.

how to cut a cope joint in picture rail molding

Cope joints are not hard to cut, but make it easy on yourself and use a new saw blade.

picture rail molding cope joint

Below  I put lots of Liquid Nails adhesive on the back of the new picture rail and then nailed it in place with 18 gauge brad nails.

how to nail picture rail molding to wall

A few 18 gauge brad nails should do the trick.

Finish trim carpenter installing kitchen moldings

Dissolving the Molding into the Cabinets

You have to do a lot of improvising when installing moldings in homes that were not thoughtfully designed for them.

Add to that my lack of foresight and you end up having to do what I did below — dissolve the moldings into the kitchen cabinets.

What’s worse, each cabinet was installed at a slightly different height from the others, making me custom fit each molding dissolve around both sides of each cabinet.

Read more about molding dissolves here: Molding Dissolves.

picture rail molding above cabinets

picture rail molding above kitchen cabinets

The Finished Picture Rail Molding

Now we never have to drill holes in the brick wall to hang pictures or plates or car bumpers again!

how to install diy picture rail molding

[Back to Our Kitchen Molding Makeover.]

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