Baseboard Trim Moulding 101 – How to Create Stunning Baseboards

If your home build or remodel includes baseboards, from selecting materials and cutting to installation and painting, creating a beautiful baseboard is all in the details. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t underestimate the power your baseboards have to make or break the looks of your room.  Their lowly position in the room actually anchors the room and helps it to look truly finished.  Define your space with well-thought-out baseboards which are properly installed.  


Installing Baseboard Moulding

It seems like an easy enough project to handle, doesn’t it?  In theory, you should be measuring, cutting, and nailing, right?  Well, yes and no.  To say it’s an easy project doesn’t take into account floors that are not level or walls that turn out not to be flat.  You might be assuming that all the corners are square and that you won’t have any unexplained gaps.  These are all possibilities when you are installing baseboard moulding.


Cutting Baseboard Corners

Corners can be particularly challenging when you’re installing baseboard moulding.  While mitered corners work best for outside corners, the inside corners will come together better using a coped joint instead of a mitered one.  


Making a Mitered Cut

Using a miter box or power miter saw, cut your baseboard moulding at a 45-degree angle.  Once you’ve set the miter angle and you have the baseboard moulding on the miter saw table, turn on the saw.  Use one hand to hold the saw and the other hand to hold the baseboard.  Move your blade so that it cuts through the wood until the cut is complete.  Mitered joints work best on outside corners.


Making a Coped Cut

On your inside corners, use coped joints.  Coped corners involve one piece of moulding attached flat in the corner. In contrast, the other piece is cut to the profile of the first piece so that they fit together perfectly. Once you set your miter saw to 45 degrees to the left, cut the miter.  After you cut the miter, use your coping saw to saw along the miter cut's profile carefully.  Use a file or sandpaper to clean and fine-tune your coped cuts.


Should I Attach Baseboard Moulding with Glue or Nails?

You can use nails and a nail gun to install your baseboard moulding or a strong construction adhesive.  The best bonding is done when you use both for a perfect finish. Glue the baseboard down first, and then finish it with the nails and nail gun.


What Size Nails Should I Use?

Try to use 15 or 16 gauge nails, and remember not to use nails that are too long.  These may puncture pipes or wiring bundles. Stay away from thicker nails.  They might split the wood, and they will require more filling in later.


Removing Baseboard Moulding

Removing your baseboard moulding is not that complicated. Still, you need to watch out for a few things, especially if you are just removing the moulding temporarily.  You might be doing this in preparation for laying new carpet or hardwood floors and wanting to reattach your moulding when the flooring project is complete.


Tools You Need to Remove Baseboards

You’ll need to gather a few tools, including a pencil, a pair of pliers, a small pry bar, a hammer, a putty knife, and a utility knife.  Having these tools together and keeping them handy will save time in your project.


Take Care Not to Damage Drywall or Your Moulding

Start by checking for caulk, glue, or any other adhesive or sealant that might be present.  Look in the corners and tops of moulding. If you find any, cut through it with the utility knife before you start prying. Check your inside corners to see if they are coped or mitered.  If they are coped, be sure to take off the coped piece first so that you don’t mess up the other piece. 

Loosen the molding with a putty knife between the top of the baseboard and the wall.  Try to stay in the areas where the wall studs are.  Stay where the nails are to avoid cracking the moulding. After it is loosened, use the small pry bar and gently pull the moulding away from the wall.


Fixing Your Baseboard Moulding

If your baseboard moulding should become chipped, dented, or dinged, you can fill in the holes, dents, and gaps with wood putty.  After the wood putty has dried, go over the whole baseboard with a rough finishing pad before applying a new coat of paint.  For most superficial flaws, this should give your moulding a significant facelift.


How to Paint Baseboard Mouldings

If you’re installing new baseboard moulding, paint it before attaching it.  That’s the easiest way to get the painting done without making a mess.  If you’re repairing your moulding, and then painting it, you’ll need to fill blemishes, as we discussed above.  After your wood filler or putty is dry, give the whole length of moulding a good sanding before painting. Remember to remove the dust and wipe everything down before your start painting.  Use water-based or acrylic-based paint with a semi-gloss finish for the best results.


Materials Matter – Wood, Vinyl, and MDF

Most consumers that are installing or replacing baseboard moulding want to know which is best.  It depends on a couple of factors and individual preference.  Here’s the best of each type of material…

Solid Wood Moulding – This moulding will have an organic, natural feel.  It won’t warp and will rarely crack.  Wood moulding is the only kind of baseboard to which you can apply stain.  This is especially nice if you want your moulding to blend in with the stain on other trim or floors in your home.

MDF – This stands for medium density fiberboard. It’s very economical and comes pre-primed- making it easy for DIYers to use.  It’s known for being mold and fungus-resistant, so it works well in damp places.

Vinyl – Vinyl moulding is made from PVC. It is resistant to the elements, making it ideal for indoor and outdoor use. It’s chip-resistant and comes prefinished, which adds to the convenience.


Need Help With Baseboard Moulding?

Now that you have an overview of baseboard moulding, are you ready to start your project?  At American Cedar & Millwork, we specialize in wood mouldings that highlight the fine craftsmanship in your home.  Contact us today, or have your builder or contractor contact us. We can help you with your baseboard moulding project, from the design and planning phase to completion.