Installing Baseboard

Learn how to install baseboard to match your trim once the walls are painted.

Intro

Baseboard covers gaps where the floor and the walls come together. It also protects the wall from errant vacuum cleaners, feet, and furniture. Aesthetically it eases the transition from vertical to horizontal, adding visual appeal to both the wall and floor. Choose baseboard that complements the rest of the trim.

Install baseboard after the walls are painted, hard flooring is installed, door casings are attached, and any built-in cabinetry is in place. If the room is to be carpeted later, use a wider baseboard or elevate the baseboard with blocks.

If the baseboard will be painted a color different from the walls or will meet a finished floor, prime and paint the baseboard before installing it. Painting or finishing baseboards and shoe before installation also minimizes tiresome time on your knees painting. After installing the baseboard and shoe, fill the nail holes and apply your final coat of finish.

It's always a great idea to paint the walls before you install moldings. Painting walls is faster and easier without having to cut in around the woodwork.

Checklist

Time
About 1-1/2 hours for a room with four walls (including a doorway)

Tools
Tape measure, miter saw or miter box, hammer, nail set, coping saw, block plane, utility knife

Skills
Measuring and laying out, cutting pieces to length, coping joints, cutting miters

Prep
Walls should be finished and painted, door casings in place

Materials
Baseboard molding, 8d finishing nails

Step 1

Start installation at a convenient location. Cut baseboard to reach from corner to corner. For runs longer than 5 feet, cut the pieces about 1/16 inch longer than the measurement. The molding will bow slightly and thus will press tightly into position when nailed in place.

Step 2

Drive 8d finishing nails into the studs and along the bottom plate. Use as many nails as needed to close any gaps between the molding and the wall. Cope the end of the next piece of molding, leaving its other end long for now.

Step 3

After coping the end of the second piece, measure and cut it to length. Again, add about 1/16 inch to the length for a tight fit. If the piece runs into a door casing, use a notched piece of plywood to help mark it for length.

Step 4

To miter outside corners, fit the coped end of the molding first, then mark the miter location with the piece in place. Keep in mind that corners are rarely perfectly square. You may need to adjust the miter angles slightly for a good fit. Make test cuts in scrap.

Step 5

If the joint is open at the front, a stroke or two with a block plane at the back of the joint tightens the fit. Another way to change a miter angle slightly is to place a playing card between the miter saw fence and molding.


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