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All About Chicago Bar Rail Molding

Did you just finish attaching your bar top? Next up is to add a sturdy Chicago bar rail molding around the bar top edges.

Adding an arm rest to the edge of your bar with Chicago bar rail is a nice feature for comfort when belly up against a bar. Asides from looking visual appealing and adding comfort, bar rail molding acts as a spill guard.

What is Chicago Bar Rail Molding?

Chicago bar rail is the molding that frames the outside edges of the bar top. This style of bar top rail is thick and durable, so it will be able to support the weight when someone leans against it. Bar top molding gives your guests a place to rest their arms or elbows when they stand or sit in front of the bar.

Chicago bar rail

History of Chicago Bar Rail

Bar rail gained popularity in the the early 20th century in taverns and bars. This style of molding was added to bars to create a more comfortable and convenient environment for customers.

Bar top rail became increasingly common among the bar scene in the city of Chicago. This pub style bar rail became the city’s signature style, hence the name Chicago bar rail.

Chicago bar rail

What is the Best Wood for Bar Rail?

The best woods for Chicago bar rail are poplar, oak, and maple.

Where to Purchase Bar Rail Molding

Before buying bar rail molding make sure you have your measurements correct and you measured your 2 bar tops. There are a variety of sizes of bar rail and customization options, so be cautious before purchasing just any type of bar molding.

Home Depot

I purchased my Chicago bar rail from the Home Depot website. This bar rail is not sold in stores, so it is recommended to order it from their website.

This post gives you a tutorial on how to install 2 plywood bar tops, so you can use the same bar rail that we recommend from Home Depot.

bar top molding


Kegworks sells a large variety of bar accessories for all of your home bar needs, along with many bar rail molding options.

Hardwoods Incorporated

Hardwoods Incorporated has a variety of styles and customization options for bar rail.

Blumer & Stanton, Inc

Blumer & Stanton, Inc offers premium quality Chicago Bar Rail along with other custom trim options.

Rounded Chicago Bar Rail

There are a couple of options when selecting the corner design of your Chicago bar rail. The bar rail can be a rounded corner or a mitered corner.

A rounded corner is just that, a smooth round edge with no sharp points. While a mitered corner has a sharp finish and typically a long rectangular bar top.

round bar rail molding

Round Chicago bar rail has either a 90 degree radius or a 135 degree radius and on the edge of a rounded bar top.

Mitered Bar Rail Corners

Mitered corners are two pieces of wood cut at 45 degrees and joined together. This is the most commonly used bar rail style on bar tops.

bar top molding

Helpful Bar Links:

How Many Bar Tops do I Need?

If you decide to go with a bar top with Chicago bar rail, you will need to use 2 bar tops to properly install the molding. The reason for this is that bar rail requires a slight step, so that it can be securely attached to the bar rail.

Bar rail molding supports a lot of weight when someone is leaning against it, so do not try to skip this step or your bar rail will not last.

bar rail molding

It is important to consider the thickness of the plywood for your bar top before selecting a bar railing molding. The thickness of the bar top depends on the measurements of your Chicago bar rail, so make sure to read the specifications required before purchasing.

How to Install Chicago Bar Rail Molding

Before attaching the bar rail make sure to dry fit the corners together on each section of the bar top. Lining up the corners of the bar rail molding can be a little tricky because you have to cut it just right.

If you are the slightest bit off with the cuts, the molding won’t match up on the corners. So make sure to take your time when measuring and cutting the molding.

If you are struggling to line up the corners of your bar rail molding, you could try using wood filler to fill in small gaps. Only follow use wood filler on the corners of the molding if the gap is small. If you have a giant gap in your bar rail corners then you should measure again and recut the wood.

If you were able to use wood filler on a small gap, allow the filler to dry then sand with fine sandpaper and wipe down before staining. You should be left with a thin flush line of wood filler that can be stained to match the rest of your bar.

bar top rail moulding


We hope these tips on Chicago bar rail were helpful with your home bar project. Always remember to follow the measurements included with the bar rail molding that you purchased as the thickness of the plywood bar top may vary.