Baseboards are a lovely finishing touch in every home. As well as being a beautiful detail, they protect your walls from scuffs and other damage caused by daily life. The installation of baseboards is similar to that of crown moulding and can do it yourself with careful planning and the right tools. The main difference between crown moulding and baseboards is the material. Baseboards tend to be a bit sturdier since their purpose is utilitarian as well as decorative. Read on for our how-to guide on choosing and installing your baseboards.
Miter Saw and miter box
Angle measuring device
Choosing the Right Baseboard
Choosing the right baseboards largely comes down to taste. Traditionally, larger more ornate designs are found in a home’s public spaces such as entryways and living rooms. Bedrooms and bathrooms tend to have simpler styles. However, only you can decide what ultimately fits best with your décor. So, if this means throwing aside tradition, go for it!
While the design of baseboards is generally simpler than crown moulding, the material used should still be of good quality. This trim element takes a beating so you need to be sure yours can hold up!
As with other trim, the larger your space and the higher your ceilings, the bigger your baseboards can be. For average ceilings of 8-10’, a baseboard of 7” is standard. If you’re going for a minimalist look, smaller is better. For more grand, traditional style, go bigger.
Measure the Walls and Mark Studs
Use a measuring tape to determine the lengths of your walls. Round this number up to the nearest whole foot to ensure you purchase enough material.
Use a stud finder and mark the stud locations with a pencil.
Tip: Bring the boards into the space where it will be installed to let it acclimate to the environment of the home. This will ensure that the wood will be done shrinking or expanding by the time you’re ready to install it.
Measure and Cut the Baseboards
Now it’s time to cut the boards into the correct lengths for each wall.
You will be using 90-degree angles for inside corners and 45-degree angles for all outside corners.
For inside corner joints, we recommend coping over mitering, as this results in a cleaner, smoother seam. To do this, one piece of board will be cut square at 90-degrees to butt up against the wall. The other piece will be cut at a 45-degree angle and then coped to fit with it.
Mark the profile of the baseboard with a pencil on the piece you will be coping. Then, use a coping saw to cut at a 5-degree angle along the edge. Be sure to clamp the board down to your work surface to make cutting easier. The two pieces should then fit together beautifully, with the coped one overlaying the square-cut piece.
Once all pieces are properly cut, be sure to test fit. Hold the boards up to where they will be on the wall to make sure the corner joints will properly fit together. This ensures the best results once they are attached.
Now you can begin to fix the baseboards to the walls. Starting with the outside corners, use wood glue to stick the pieces to the walls.
Next, nail the baseboards in place. Place a nail every 32” or so, being sure to put them where the studs are.
Caulk and Sand the Baseboard
Use caulk to fill in any small gaps between the baseboard and the wall. Then, sand down the wood lightly, to prep for paint. This can also be done before installation if you prefer.
Fill in Nail Holes
Fill in any nail holes with colored putty to make sure your end result is as smooth as possible.
Stain or paint
Now that your baseboards have been successfully installed, you can stain or paint them the color of your choosing. Remember to test the color on a small scrap first!