Baseboard Installation Basics


Baseboards are a type of molding used as a practical and decorative way to cover the gap at the bottom of a wall and floor. A new baseboard installation of molding incorporates an owner’s personal style throughout the home. This do-it-yourself project can be successfully accomplished with proper planning and preparation. The baseboard installation should begin with the proper tools for the job.

Tools and Materials

The list of tools needed to complete the baseboard installation include a compound miter saw, coping saw, 4-foot level, 6-inch circular saw, speed square, 25-foot tape measure, compass for scribing, block plane, biscuit joiner, chalk line, hammer or pneumatic nail gun, nail set, and stud finder. Power tools, used for this project, will make the baseboard installation easier and give a polished look. If a homeowner does not own or cannot borrow the power tools, renting is a cost-effective way around this dilemma. Look for local equipment rental
companies or home centers to rent power tools.

Baseboard molding, cap molding, shoe molding, 6d and 8d finish nails, number 10 compressed wood biscuits, and carpenter’s glue will complete the list of items needed for the baseboard installation. While making these purchases, do not forget to consult with in-store experts about various styles of baseboard and cap moldings for the baseboard installation.

Calculating Baseboard Material

Measure all of the straight walls in a room and round the total up to the next whole foot that is evenly divisible by two. For example, if the total for all of the measured walls is 22.5-feet, purchase 24-feet of baseboard material, because 24-feet is evenly divided by two. The extra baseboard material will allow for any miscalculations in measuring or cutting blunders. Remember to purchase the same amount of baseboard molding, cap molding, and shoe molding to complete the baseboard installation.

Installation Overview

Purchase all of the baseboard material needed one week prior to the baseboard installation. This will allow the wood to acclimate properly.

Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs that are usually 16-inches “on-center”. This means from the center of
one stud to the next stud it should measure 16-inches. Baseboards will have a strong anchor when nailed to the wall studs.

Measure and cut the baseboard material for each of the inside walls. The measurement for baseboards used for outside corners should be longer to allow for miter cuts later. Organize the baseboards by marking each baseboard and wall with matching numbers.

Establish the height of the baseboard using a scrap piece of baseboard and a 4-foot level to place marks every few feet along each wall. Snap a chalk line, around the room, using these marks with the chalk line tool to indicate baseboard height.

Temporarily tack and scribe along the bottom of the baseboard and floor using the compass to duplicate any irregularities of the floor. Bevel cut the scribed line to give a tight fit against the floor and baseboard bottom.
Nail two nails, one at the top and another at the bottom of the baseboard, to the wall studs. Counter sink the nails just below the surface with a nail set. Measure and cut the outside corners with a miter saw using a 45 degree angle and apply biscuits for secure outside joints. Cope the cap molding at the inside corners using the coping saw. Complete the baseboard installation by nailing the cap molding and shoe molding in place. For a professional finish, putty the nail heads and lightly sand before applying primer and paint.

Tips and Precautions

It is important to read, understand, wear protective gear, and follow all safety instructions when using power tools.

If this is the first baseboard installation project, investigate free to low cost clinics offered by home centers, talk to in-store experts, or purchase instructional books/CDs. Become familiar with the terminology and practice using power tools before beginning this project.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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