We decided to fit a dado rail to the hall, stair and landing. We were not sure if there was one originally. After stripping the paper we discovered some wooden plugs in the wall which could have been for a dado. However, these were too high for it to have been an original Victorian one. How high should a dado be? Well from my research dados were originally to protect wall coverings from damage from chair backs. These became popular decorative features in Georgian times and this was carried through Victorian times and was still used in Edwardian times but often at a higher level. Another measure for the height can be obtained from the stairs. The dado height on a stair should match the handrail height. We used this as our measure which then set the height for the hall and landing. One interesting feature of our stair is that the wooden stair stringer attached to the wall is curved in the lower section so the dado should match this curve at a set vertical distance above it. The dado used is softwood which is not ideal for bending so two techniques were used. Kerfs were cut part way through the wood (on the inner radius) and steaming was then used to bend the dado.

The green walls above the old dado line are clearly seen here. There are small wooden plugs in the wall where the dado would have been fastened. The dado appears high indicating that it was installed in the early 20th century.

We decide to install our dado to be level with the handrail of the stair which would have been the normal height when this house was built. Evidence suggests that this house might not have had a dado when it was first built. Once we have exposed the bare plaster on the downstairs hall we will have more evidence about this.

For the curved section many kerfs were cut part way into the dado. The frequency of these is dependent on the radius of the particular section.

The length of dado was then placed into a steamer. This was made of a section of drain pipe plugged at both ends. A steam wallpaper stripper was used as the source of the steam.

After a good half hour in the steamer the dado section is quickly placed in a jig made to form the exact profile of the stair. It is left to dry out in the jig overnight.

The wall was marked with the desired profile and the bent dado is fixed into place using wall plugs and screws.

The kerfs were patched with epoxy filler and the curved dado sanded and painted.

The dado is taken around a radiator shelf that will eventually have a mirror positioned above it. When the paper was stripped here we discovered the name 'Kellock' written on the wall (see next image).

This 'Kellock' signature matches that of the first owner of this house John Kellock whose signature appears on the original house deeds. We presume Mr Kellock signed the wall prior to hanging the first paper most probably in 1880.