After our recent nook room baseboard update, we had a few questions regarding the actual installation, and after knocking out the trim in Kim’s workroom this weekend, we thought this was a great little room for our rundown. Prying up and re-doing baseboards might seem like a daunting task, but if you follow the old adage of measuring twice and cutting once, knocking out a room of bold new trim is a relatively simple project:
We started this tiny-room adventure with a wall color quite outside the realm of our usual comfort zone, (which ironically enough, is most people’s comfort zone) – white! After staring at swatches for a good week, we finally landed on Silent White by Clark + Kensington with a flat enamel finish (matte, but still very wipeable), a white falling in the cool family, but it’s still neutral and definitely not blue. Kim was even worried that it looked a bit yellow at first (especially when laid on top of the very cool primer), but now that the whole room is done, we love it.
With the room painted, we could move on to the baseboards! We tackled the window sills a few weeks back, and the fresh paint and baseboards brought everything together. (Our prep work is done, and now the fun can begin, right?)
Our baseboards, cut to approximate lengths at the hardware store
Quarter round, cut to the same approximate lengths
Decorative outside corner trim
Semi-gloss paint in Ultra Pure White (Behr)
Compound miter saw
PREP FIRST. Kim likes to paint all of the trim first (The night before is best to allow your paint time to fully cure) so that all we need to do once everything is installed is a quick touch up. Sawhorses come in very handy for the lengths you’ll likely be dealing with. We used the same semi-gloss Ultra Pure White (Behr) paint for the baseboards as we did in the nook room.
Our gracefully aging home has its challenges, with flooring installed not only after the baseboards, but with every type of fastener you could imagine – including drywall screws, finish nails and seemingly load bearing caulk (yes, really). Every time we think we’ve gotten used to the bizarre easy-way-out projects handled before us, new previous shortcuts continue to astound us! Anyway, start by removing any rogue fasteners, then carefully score the caulk that resides between the old baseboards and the drywall.
Next, just start prying! A hammer and a small pry bar should be all you need. Find a loose spot and work your way from one end of each wall to the other. If your baseboards were installed properly (ie; after the flooring was laid), you’ll probably be prying from the top of the trim and pulling the baseboard toward you. For us, it was a matter of prying up and out to make sure we cleared the thick hardwood.
As we mentioned earlier, our baseboards were held in place with a handful of randomly placed screws. Honest to goodness screws. If this happens to you, pop those suckers out and get back to prying.
Once everything was up, we had sizeable gaps (upwards of 1 1/2″ inches!) between our floor and wall, and since some of these were exterior walls, we took that as an opportunity to use my favorite spray foam to keep things insulated. Once the foam dries, you can cut off any excess with a utility knife. The amount of cold air rushing in from the outside was kind of unbelievable, but now the room is completely draft-free (and much warmer!).
THE INSTALL. Now that all the prep work has been done, we could move on to the install. Always start your baseboard project by cutting a fresh 45-degree angle on one end of your baseboard, then use that as your starting measuring point. You’ll want all of your inside pieces to be shaped like a trapezoid. Keep in mind that your wall measurements should match the widest side of the trapezoid. Our trim is rather large at 6 1/2″ tall, so most of our cuts had to be made with the saw tilted horizontally to accommodate the taller board, whereas lower height trim can likely be cut with a standard miter saw.
Tip: The trim we’ve been using is pretty substantial, so the speed square comes in pretty handy for marking your 45-degree angles and drawing lines for the most accurate cut on your miter saw.
I highly recommend using an air compressor and pneumatic brad nailer for this project. Everything can be nailed by hand with finish nails, but you’ll spend at lease twice as much time fastening everything. (If you don’t have one in your tool arsenal, you can easily rent one from a big box hardware store for the afternoon). We used 18 gauge 2″ nails, securing them every 10-12″ along the entire length of baseboard, top and bottom.
Due to the large gaps between our hardwood floor and the trim, we also needed to install shoe molding (quarter round). I’ll admit that using the shoe molding is not necessarily a look we love, but it’s been our saving grace for our slightly crooked floors, walls and gaps. This goes much quicker than the baseboard cuts, and all the same rules apply. (Measure, measure, measure, cut, cut, cut, then nail, nail, nail.)
Our workroom has a slight slope up in the flooring when you leave the room, so we were unable to continue a seamless transition around the door frame. We picked up decorative outside corner molding to allow things to blend a little more seamlessly and avoid uneven trim from one room to the next.
FINISH UP. You can see below how we notched it out to go up with the slope (I used my multi-tool to do so), and at this point, you’re finally ready to caulk all the unsightly gaps! Just run a thin bead along the top edge of your baseboards, and use your fingertip to swipe along your caulk line. (On a side note, there was one pesky floor board [see below] that was cut way to short for the room, so we may end up filling with color-matched wood putty or something similar. We’ll cross that bridge down the road.
When installing, remember that you will have slight gaps and imperfections – and that’s okay. Drywall is almost never square, and the older your house, the more likely you’ll meet some challenged along the way. Luckily, there’s caulk, spackle and paint to the rescue! After I caulked, Kim used a bit of spackle to touch up the small nail holes (no need for a putty knife; your fingertip is the perfect tool to fill those barely-there imperfections), and she followed that up with a touch up coat of the same semi-gloss paint she used the day before:
YOU’RE DONE! We wrapped the baseboard around the door casing, and left it at that since we’ll take care of the rest when we do the foyer / landing trim. This is our first official completed room with the window and the baseboards wrapped up! Add that to our freshly painted walls, and we’re ready to get this room into shape.
Now that the groundwork for the room has been laid, Kim’s excited to get the Varde together (we’re still deciding on colors, but she’s leaning pink, of course), and we can start thinking about incorporating our old studs into shelving. Then it’s on to baskets, bins, and all those organizational tools she loves so much (I’ll leave that part up to her!).
We hope this helped some of you aspiring baseboard-installers (you can do it!), and inspired some of you to add a fresh look to your spaces. It’s really incredible how much of a difference baseboards make; game changers. Are there any seasoned baseboard installers our there with tips and tricks we missed?
PS… Today is the last day to get 15% off anything in The Pet Shop when you use the code LAUNCHPARTY.