We’ve been doing a ton of DIY projects around the house, like you’ve seen in the recent post “Installing Hardwood Floors”. Many readers have written asking for some basic instructions on how to do some of the carpentry I’ve done. I’m certainly not a pro, but I’ve done enough to pass along some simple tips. Installing baseboard molding is probably one of the easier molding projects to tackle. Where do you begin you might ask? Let’s head out to the hardware store and take a look.
This is what you’ll see upon entering the molding aisle at Home Depot. It’s a tad overwhelming for sure. Most of the baseboard molding comes in 8’ lengths and in 16’ lengths. Borrow a friend’s truck and lots of straps, because I recommend purchasing the longest possible lengths you can get. Long boards mean less cuts and a cleaner look.
You should have seen us in the HD parking lot fastening the three 16 foot long baseboards and shoe molding across the top of our truck. Hubs and I were arguing about how to best secure them and apparently it was entertainment for an old man who sat in the car next to us shaking his head and laughing. But hey, my idea won out and the boards were strapped tight and it was safe to drive, thankfully.
Back to your choices…. most homes these days have a the basic 4.5” baseboards, but you can chose from a variety of heights and styles. If you want to get creative with your baseboards, be sure to check out my recent post “Baseboards”. It is a collection of different baseboard styles and eye candy inspiration.
Let’s get started. We ripped out the old carpet in our music room and also the baseboards because the hardwood flooring needed to be installed. Removing the old baseboard wasn’t exactly a breeze. I’m beginning to think the carpenter had some anger issues and took it out on my baseboards, because they were full of hundreds of nails! This is overkill people. Please don’t use this many nails.
The walls were a bit damaged but I knew the new baseboards would cover that up.
One of the best tips I can give you is to purchase pre-primed baseboards and to paint them first. You then will only have to touch up where you nail. This saves you a ton of time and you don’t have to worry about getting trim paint on the walls. I laid my 3 boards across my deck and gave them 2 nice coats of semi-gloss.
Items Needed for Installing Baseboard
Quarter or half inch shoe molding
Nail gun and compressor
Once the boards are dry, you are ready to cut. Now I know you’ve heard that the right tools make the job easier. This is so true! If you are planning on doing any type of carpentry I highly recommend purchasing a miter saw and a nail gun and compressor. I have two nail guns, a larger one for jobs like this and then a small finishing nail gun for small moldings. Both of these tools making DIY-ing a breeze!
Measure the length of your wall starting from the inside edge of a door casing to the corner. Take this measurement as close to the floor as possible. My room was 13’ x 14’. We took one 16’ baseboard and made a 90 degree straight cut at the end. You don’t have to do this but it trims off any imperfections in the board giving you a nice clean straight cut which will butt up against the door casing. Then take the 1st wall measurement and mark it with pencil on your baseboard.
Determine which direction your 45 degree cut needs to be, then turn the blade so it is set at 45 degrees. Stand the baseboard flat against the back fence of your miter saw and make your cut. It is always better to be too long with your board then too short. As the saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once”.
Lay the board against the wall to ensure proper fit. If it fits nice and snug then nail it in with your nail gun. I like to put two nails about two inches in from the ends and then one nail every 8-12”. Add more if needed.
Move on to the next wall and take that measurement. This time you will start your end cut with a 45 degree cut going in the opposite direction. Here is an example of what 45 degree cuts look like if you are facing a corner.
Make sure the next board fits into place nicely and if it does then nail it in. Repeat this process until your room is complete. After everything is nailed in place you will caulk the top edge and joints with paintable caulk. Fill your nail holes with wood putty and touch up then with your semi gloss paint.
You will need to add shoe molding. This covers any gaps that might exist between the flooring and the molding. It is installed in the same way as the baseboards except without caulking. Whether you choose shoe molding to match your flooring or painted white is simply a personal preference. I like it white because I think it makes the molding appear larger, but hubs wanted it to match the flooring.
Installing baseboard is a project that doesn’t take a lot of time if you have the right tools and buy nice long boards. Give it a try! For more DIY ideas check out my DIY Project Gallery tab up top.
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