top of page


Stay up to date

7 Easy Steps to Build Picture Frame Ledges

An easy upgrade to any boring wall is a Picture Frame Ledge. When I looked online it frustrated me how much money these simple ledges are going for (even on bargain sites and stores), so I got to work and I recreated them. If you are a novice builder, this is a 20 min project that will be proud of because you have created something that looks great and is totally functional. There are a variety of finishes you can us to make your picture rails look unique. You can get finishes from weathered to painted and fresh (links in materials and tools below). At the end of this post I have a link to the printable PDF for the ledges in all sizes. No matter which length you decide to build or how many, you will be at about 1/4 of the cost if you were to buy these ledges online or in a store.

The first thing that you will want to do is figure out what length you want and buy your materials accordingly. If you are going to build the 24" long ledges you can make 4 per length of materials shown below. Another thing that I have done is just made the 96" long ledge and cut to the varying lengths as needed, this saves a lot of time.


Tools required:

Miter Saw



Nail Punch




Sanding Disk

Material required:

1X2 Common Board - Length 96" (8')

1X4 Common Board - Length 96" (8') - qty of (2) is required for all projects except for the 48" and shorter

Stain/Finish (pick your color and type)


Color express

White Wash

Polyurethane (Polycrylic)



We use affiliate links to link you to products that we recommend to use on our projects. If you like what we recommend then please use our links to purchase items. This is how we keep our content free at no cost to you, even if you use the links it doesn't effect your price.


Now that we have the tools and materials handled lets get dirty. We are going to decide which length we want for the frame ledge. I mention above that depending on what you want to do with these, I generally build the 96" and cut to lengths that I want, this is the most cost effective way. THIS means that I am going to run you through the 96" long frame rail and if you want to just make the a different size, click on the length you want below for the plans to download.

  • Step 1 - Measure your Material and Cut it to Length

Since we are making the 96" long this should be easy right? but unfortunately these materials generally run longer than 96". If you don't care about the length being long (must not be a type A) then move to the next step. If you do care, like I do, then measure the boards and mark all 3 pieces at 96" and be sure to cut to the right side of the mark. I generally mark the side I want to remove the material so place an X on the blade side. You will cut your (2) 1x4 and (1) 1x2.

  • Step 2 - Sand Splintered Edges and Any Major Defects

I used to skip this step this until I finally grew tired of all the slivers and extra work that I had to do at the end of the project to get to the hard to reach areas. I only make this a separate step because I have found this to be a time saver.

  • Step 3 - Glue and Nail the Back on

Before you start gluing and nailing these parts together lets figure out what is the back and the bottom. This is key because this is where you hide mistakes, defects in the wood, and also ensure that you have the most attractive grooves and knots in the wood showing. I have found that saw marks and material defects actually work out really well because the stain will bring out a lot of character the wood. Knots in the wood look really good stained and also if you see If you plan to paint for a fresh look, hide all defects and have them facing the wall or on the base/bottom. Now that I have typed your ear off, we will first mark where the nails go on our back piece. If you start from center and up 3/8" from the bottom place a mark every 10" and then on the ends mark 1" in from the edge. It is nice to mark your nailing before hand so you don't clamp where nails go (this is shown in the plans when you download). Let's move to gluing the rear face of the base/bottom, this is the 3/4" tall face. We will put a thin layer of glue on this face and then take our back piece and line up a side and the bottom and clamp in place. Take note that this clamp should be placed about 3" from the edge so that you can nail the edge. Place your second clamp about 18" away (watch for where you marked for nails). Then start nailing down your markings moving the clamps as you go to keep the boards tight. You will see some glue squeeze out of the joint and you will want to wipe this up because most glues do not stain. Use a damp rag to clean up, do not let excess glue dry.

  • Step 4 - Glue and Nail the Front on

Now repeat the process that I mentioned above but to the front of the base/bottom and the 1x2 board. Again mark your nail spots and glue the 3/4: tall face of the base. Clamp and nail away

  • Step 5 - Bury Nail Heads, Putty, and Sand again!

This is the part that you need to know how how you want the piece to look. Rustic, this is easy, less is more. I mean this because making the ledge look rustic is easy because it is the less intensive prep for stain and finishing. Clean and sharp, this takes more prep. So depending on your finish I have links on this site to help you try and achieve your desired look. You want to make sure that you bury your nail heads before sanding, so take that nail punch you just bought and drive the nail heads about 1/16" under the surface. After this is done take you wood putty (stain-able or paintable) and fill any imperfections that you do not want shown and fill any holes and gaps. This does not have to be perfect because you get to sand after it dries. When dry you will want to sand smooth your putty/filler to give you the desired look you are going for and also get rid of any high spots, this is stain-able but it could be slightly off on color.

  • Step 6 - Stain, Paint, or whitewash

There are so many colors to chose from on stains and paints that the options limitless. Depending on what you want to do I recommend you try out your finish on scrap piece of material, if you are anything like me you may have 1 or 2 after some projects. Stains react differently to each type of wood and also to imperfections on the wood. I really like stains because they bring out different colors and textures of wood compared to most paints. For stains my best advice is to test it first, then try it on your piece but do not let it set to long before wiping off your first coat. This is because you will see if this is the tint or color that you want. If it is apply a second coat and let it set a little longer, the longer it sits the darker it gets. Do not let stain dry on top of the wood. What I mean by this that you will want to wipe off any excess after it has set for your prepping time. Another trick to bring out the best look is to wipe off the stain in the direction you want to pull the color or hue to. When you do this, you are working the stain into the wood. The longer you work it the darker it will get. I usually always have a stain cloth when I wipe. One other tip is wear gloves! Hopefully you did a read of this whole article before you started working on your ledge and didn't get stain all over your hands. If you have never used stains before hopefully you become a fan, if not there is paint and paint can dress up anything if you chose the right color. Paint is pretty straight forward, and like stain test it first so that you can see how it is going to dry. I always recommend multiple coats to get good coverage and also bring out the true color of the paint. After your paint/stain has dried chose an appropriate top coat for what you just applied, and, good news....because these ledges are not high traffic items a top coat is not absolutely necessary. Good Luck Logan Street Crew!









If you have any questions or comments please let us know. We are always striving to be better and supply you with the best content to make projects easy and affordable. If you have any project ideas or something you would love to build or have built and want to share please contact us and we will do what ever we can to help. Stay tuned and Lets Keep Improving! Jeff

#DIY #PictureFrameLedges #EasytoBuild #HomeUpgrade #PictureWall

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page