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How to Build a Modesty Rail

Keith Allen

Church worship areas that include a choir space at the front of the church often include a modesty rail. This low wall shields the legs and lower body of the seated choir members from the view of the congregation. The project can be simple or rather complex depending on the design elements the congregation desires. Many churches prefer a portable modesty rail to improve flexibility in the usability of the worship space.

Step 1

Measure out the desired space for the modesty rail. The space should block the front of the choir area from view while allowing walkways for members to move to and from the choir loft. Also measure the storage space where the rail will be placed, if a moveable modesty rail is planned, to determine the best size for segments.

Step 2

La yout the top and bottom plates for the modesty rail wall. These are the horizontal boards of the rail. Use 2-by-4 inch lumber for the rail plates. Mark out the positions for the studs every 24 inches.

Step 3

Cut the studs for the modesty rail to 33 inches long. Nail the studs in the marked positions between the top and bottom plate using two 16d nails from each end.

Step 4

Place legs, if the modesty rail is portable, under each end of each segment. Use 16-inch long 1-by-4-inch boards, fastened to the bottom of each modesty rail segment, for support. If the wall is permanently placed, position the wall in the proper location and nail through the bottom plate into the floor joists using 16d nails.

Step 5

Cover the front of the modesty rail frame with a wall sheathing that matches the interior décor of the church. This can be a simple drywall or may be finished wood paneling. Nail woodwork in place using 2-inch finishing nails while fastening drywall in place with 2-inch drywall screws.

Step 6

Cover the back or choir side of the modesty rail. This is less visible to the public and may be finished with plywood or drywall depending on the budget.

Step 7

Place a piece of trim on the top of the wall frame. A wider board, such as a 1-by-10, allows the choir members to rest hymnals or sheet music on the rail.