Why you should consider fitting architrave, dado rails or picture rails

Architrave, dado and picture rails are common sites in the rooms of people’s houses. Have you ever wondered why you should and may want to use these, however?

First, let’s look at the difference between the three:

* Architrave. This is a finish around doors and sometimes windows.

* Dado rail. This runs around the lower to the middle of the room.

* Picture rail. This runs towards the top of the room (normally at or around the height of the door frame.)

Generally speaking, all these materials have been created for decorative purposes and are designed to enhance the quality and look of a room. There have been periods where architrave, dado and picture have come into and out of fashion, but they are firmly ‘in’ at the moment and it is easy to see why.


The architrave is a useful piece because it makes a doorway area look much more attractive. Architraves are recognisable straight away as they form the edge/perimeter around the doorway or window area. The advantage of using these is that a better finish is created and therefore the walls and doorway/window area blend nicely into one rather than looking messy. Architraves can be awkward to cut as they need to be specifically shaped – mitre joints need to be correct otherwise they won’t work. Please bear this in mind.


Dado Rails

Dado and Picture rails are more of a ‘desire’ rather than a ‘necessity.’ By this, we mean that it is rare to come across a doorway without any form of architrave finish – it is a done and accepted thing. Dado and picture rails are often down to personal choice.

Dado and Picture are certainly at the core of any design project for a room. Either of these can be used or both, but their advantage and effect are the same. These materials almost separate a wall of a room into different parts, so another style and even colour can be used on the wall. Many people like this idea since the room do not look plain and boring. Many people actually use dado/picture and don’t use different patterns or colours. This works and is perfectly possible also. As seen in the below picture, whilst a different colour has been used, the change in shade is subtle and using the same colour throughout would have been equally as effective.

White Dado Rail on Yellow Wall

Above: A typical example of the dado rail.

Originally picture rails were used to hang pictures (not surprisingly) to avoid denting the walls with holes, and some people use it for this purpose today also.

There is no set rule as to what height to take your dado or picture rail to. There are however ranges of height which look best and we advise you to consider these if you are fitting for yourself. Remember you want to enrich the look of the room, so getting it right is key.

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