What Is the Trim in the Middle of the Wall Called?

In the world of interior design and home renovation, there exists a wide variety of wall trims that not only serve functional purposes but also add aesthetic appeal to any space. Amongst these trims, one commonly encountered but often misunderstood feature is the strip of molding positioned in the middle of a wall. Referred to as the "chair rail," this particular style of trim has garnered it’s name from the historical practice of the Shakers, a religious sect known for their innovative and practical approach to furniture. The Shakers, in their quest for cleanliness and efficiency, devised a method of hanging chairs on their walls using wooden strips and pegs. This ingenious solution not only prevented chairs from scuffing or damaging the walls but also facilitated easy floor cleaning, as chairs could be conveniently removed and replaced. Over time, the chair rail has evolved into a decorative element that adds charm, depth, and character to interior spaces. As such, understanding the origins and significance of the chair rail allows one to appreciate it’s dual functionality and historical context, offering a glimpse into the rich tapestry of design elements that form the foundation of our modern homes.

What Is Considered Trim?

Trim can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), or even metal. It’s typically installed around the perimeter of a room to add a finished look and cover any gaps or inconsistencies. The purpose of trim isn’t only aesthetic; it also helps protect the edges of walls and creates a barrier against moisture and drafts.

Baseboard trim, as mentioned earlier, is one of the most common types of trim used in homes. It’s usually installed at the bottom of walls, where they meet the floor. Baseboard trim can be simple and streamlined or more elaborate with intricate details, depending on the desired style.

Crown molding is another popular type of trim that’s installed at the top of walls, where they meet the ceiling. Crown molding adds an elegant touch to a room and gives it a more finished and cohesive look. It can be made from wood or other materials and comes in various shapes and sizes to suit different architectural styles.

Window and door trim is used to cover the gaps between the wall and the door or window frame. It helps create a clean and polished look and can be customized to match the style of the room. Window trim is particularly important as it also serves to protect the window frame from moisture and damage.

In addition to these common types of trim, there are also other specialized trims used for specific purposes. For example, chair rail trim is installed at chair height on walls to protect them from being damaged by furniture or chairs. Wainscoting trim is used to cover the lower portion of walls, typically between the baseboard and chair rail, adding texture and interest to a room.

Whether it’s baseboard trim, crown molding, or window trim, the choice of trim can greatly impact the overall look and feel of a room.

The trim at the top of a wall, also known as the decorative border that lines the junction between the wall and ceiling, is commonly referred to as crown molding. It’s primary purpose is to add a touch of elegance and visual appeal to the room, while in older homes with lower ceilings, it often served a dual function as both crown molding and picture rail.

What Is the Trim at the Top of a Wall Called?

The trim at the top of a wall, often referred to as crown molding, serves both decorative and practical purposes. Crown molding is typically installed along the seam where the wall and ceiling meet, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any room. It helps create a smooth transition between the vertical walls and the horizontal ceiling, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the space.

In older houses with lower ceilings, the same trim that functions as crown molding today used to have a dual purpose. This type of trim, known as picture rail, wouldn’t only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the room but also serve as a practical solution for hanging artwork or photographs. The picture rail would typically be installed a few inches below the ceiling, allowing for easy rearrangement and display of decorative pieces without damaging the walls.

Furthermore, the installation of crown molding requires precise measurements and skilled craftsmanship. It can be manufactured from various materials, including wood, polystyrene, or polyurethane, offering homeowners a range of options to suit their tastes and budgets. Some crown moldings feature intricate carvings or designs, while others have simpler, more minimalist profiles, allowing for versatility in design choices.

Whether used solely for decorative purposes or as a picture rail, this type of molding helps create a visually appealing transition between the wall and ceiling while enhancing the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of the space.


In essence, the trim in the middle of the wall, commonly known as chair rail, serves not only as a practical means of protecting walls from chair damage but also as a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the Shakers. Their innovative approach of utilizing wood and pegs to hang chairs for floor cleaning purposes ultimately gave birth to the term "chair rail," which has now become a universal reference for this particular type of decorative molding.

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