Saturday, April 4, 2009

Installing Baseboard Trim Tips and Techniques

Installing baseboard is one of the easier facets of finish carpentry. By learning just this part of finish carpentry you will be surprised at how easy and fast you pick up the other aspects regarding trimming. For instance, taking the basics of installing baseboard and applying them to installing shoe or quarter round or even chair rail and crown molding really works. In a sense it is the plat form or starting point to learning this trade. Of course installing doors and casing doors and trimming windows is a little more complicated but is not really that tough with a little research or guidance. This information for research is all over the web and is free, abundant and invaluable for learning. Here are some quick tips for installing baseboard.

When installing baseboard where future carpeting will be installed you want to keep the baseboard up off the floor so the carpeting can be tucked in under the baseboard. The way to handle this is to cut a few short pieces of baseboard about 3 inches long or so and lay them down next to the wall so the piece of baseboard that will be installed and nailed in place rests on these short pieces. This will create a space about 3/8 of an inch under the baseboard after it is installed.

When you come up to a 90 degree outside corner always trial fit the baseboard in place and let the baseboard run past the corner. Then take your pencil and trace the corner up the back of the baseboard. This will give you the exact measurement of where to cut. When you cut this piece always try to split your pencil line with the blade and for a 90 degree corner cut this piece at exactly 46 degrees. Sheet rock corners are never perfect and your line most likely won't be perfectly vertical on the back of the baseboard so split the line at the most outer point or at the longest point.

When you come to an inside corner there are a couple ways to handle these. One way is to miter the joint. The other way and most preferred is coping the joint. Coping is cleaner and neater looking and just plain easier. To start from the beginning for doing a cope read careful, you only cope one piece and that is the second piece that leads out of the corner.

The first piece of baseboard goes squarely and tightly against and into the corner. Then the actual cope goes onto the second piece of baseboard that meets the first piece that was previously installed. Take this second piece of baseboard and make a 45 degree back cut on the end that goes into the corner. On this piece there will be a natural cut line or profile line. Simply use a coping saw and cut off the material by following this natural profile line.
This will create the exact profile of the baseboard and this piece will fit exactly into the first piece like a glove. When you are cutting with the coping saw be sure to be creating a bevel so the back of the baseboard is slightly shorter then the face or front.

For quick nailing or attaching baseboard to a wall a stud finder works well. You really need to be hitting studs every time so the baseboard is secure and stays securely fastened. However if you do not have a stud finder another quick method is by simply using your tape measure.
Find one stud in the wall towards the center of the wall, then on your tape measure the 16 inch increments are well marked, just lay your tape down the length of the wall and put one of the 16 inch increments at this one stud. Then at each 16 inch increment shoot a nail through the base and into the wall. You should hit a stud every time provided the wall studs are framed at 16 inches on center. Some times walls are framed at 2 feet on center and some times the framing may be off slightly so check the baseboard after each time you nail to be sure it is secure.

There are other tips and tricks to installing baseboard but by just doing it and getting more practice these little tricks can and will be picked up naturally and automatically. Almost everyone develops their own little unique techniques when learning and doing finish carpentry.

Autor: Pat Fisher

Pat Fisher is a professional carpenter and woodworking craftsman. For more information on finish carpentry and household carpentry projects, visit - Also available is a comprehensive eBook for building hand railings

Added: April 5, 2009

1 Comment:

TJLoop85 said...

Adding baseboard to any room really give it a finished look... and as you mentioned learning to install baseboard will help if you decide to install crown molding later on.

Great suggestions and tips.