Chair Rail Molding
If a chair rail was just for wall protection and not in combination as a plate rail it was quite often just a plain board the full distance around a room attached at the height of the top of the back of a chair and painted or finished the same as the wall or in contrast to the wall.
Some ladies liked their rooms a little fancier, so the chair rail would be made of a decorative molding and may also serve as a divider between wainscoting and upper wall decoration.
Plate Rail Molding
Plate rails weren't always used in combination with chair rails, so they could be at any height and were quite often at a height that was easily reachable, but too high for stumble footed people to fall against and break the china.
The molding for a plate rail was generally a little fancier than a chair rail.
Chair Rail And Plate Rail Molding Combined
Generally when the plate rail was combined with a chair rail the chair rail was a plain board or possible with a little fluting for decoration. The chair rail was flat against the wall at chair back height.
The plate rail might be a grooved board with the edge extending horizontally from the wall about three inches and fastened to the top of the chair rail. The plate rail would probably be held up securely with crown molding or other fancy molding that would add decoration to utility.
Shaker Chair Rails And Shaker Pegs
The Shakers were very utilitarian people and everything had to have a proper use.
The Shakers not only moved the chairs away from the table, but they hung them on the wall high enough to be completely out of the way.
Shaker chair rails were a plain board finished properly and with Shaker Pegs extending out of the board. The Shaker Pegs were round and extended out a couple of inches, then tapered in toward the center, then had a bulbous end.
The chair would hang by the upper part of the back or upside down by a chair rung and would nestle in the taper and be kept from coming off the Shaker Peg by the bulb like end.