Home Zone Design Guide
Picture rails, dado rails and skirting boards
As they are commonly made from low grade softwoods, plastic or plaster, picture rails, dado rails and skirting boards are relatively cheap to buy, and can be found in a variety of patterns. To fit picture rails, dado rails and skirting, 120121.
Situated a short way from the top of the wall and immediately below a frieze, picture rails were originally used, as the name suggests, for hanging pictures. A groove or channel was formed along the top edge of the moulding to hold picture hooks securely; if this was made deep enough, it could also be used to display plates. Like dado rails , picture rails can make a large difference to the way we perceive space. By dividing the wall into smaller areas, they help to establish a visual rhythm which the eye reads as an improvement in the proportions of the room.
Dado rails are usually placed about one third of the way up the wall. Their original function was to prevent chair backs from being pushed up against the wall and damaging it. They were also used to signal the division between a hard-wearing finish or panelling used on the lower part of the wall, known as the dado, and the finer finish used on the upper part. Late eighteenth-century examples would have been decorated with neo-classical motifs made from gesso or carved wood, and those in grand Victorian hallways were sometimes made from ceramic tiles. Modern examples tend to be made from humbler materials, such as softwood, or are replaced by wallpaper borders.