Better baseboards

How to install baseboard: Tips for great results

If you need to know how to install baseboards, you’re in the right place. We’ll show you how to measure, cut, and install baseboards. Get the details below.

Baseboard installation: Prep work and measuring for materials

Your first step is to choose what type of baseboard you are going to install. There are several standard profiles, or you can combine several pieces of wood to make a specialty base.

In any case, you’ll need to measure the perimeter of the room to determine how many feet of baseboard you will need. Get boards long enough to do an entire wall in one piece if possible. This makes the process easier and will give the best appearance. In larger rooms, this may not be possible.

Also, buy a few feet more than the measured amount since you will lose some length when making corner cuts.

How to install baseboard trim

Before you begin, get all the necessary tools and supplies ready:

  • tape measure and pencil
  • mitre saw
  • hammer and nails or pneumatic nailer
  • caulk gun and construction adhesive
  • coping saw (if desired)
  • nail set
  • safety gear – gloves, safety glasses, knee pads

Now, here’s how to proceed:

  1. Measure a wall, corner to corner. Mark the location of wall studs on the floor or wall.
  2. Cut a piece of baseboard to length. 
  3. There are two ways to cut corners. You can cut all corners at a 45° angle, or you can cope them.
  4. If you cut 45° corners, make sure your corner is a true 90° angle. If not, you may want to adjust your cut slightly to compensate.
  5. If you are going to cope the corners, cut the ends of your first piece square. All other corners will be cut at a 45° first, then trimmed back. (Coping the corners is a bit more work, but it gives a more professional appearance. There are many useful videos online to show how to do this simple process.) 
  6. Test fit the piece to make sure it fits. If so, use a caulk gun to add a line of construction adhesive to the back.
  7. Put the baseboard in place and ensure it runs even to the floor. Nail it to the studs and bottom plate.
  8. Continue around the room in the same way until complete.
  9. Use a nail set and hammer to tap the nails just below the surface.
  10. You are now ready for paint or stain.

To join two pieces on a long wall, cut the end of one piece on a 45° angle one direction and the other piece at a 45° angle in the opposite direction and fit them together. This will give a better appearance than joining two square ends. 

How to replace baseboards

Your first step is to remove the old baseboard. Here’s how to do it:

  1. If the old baseboard is painted, there will likely be a bead of caulk along the top edge. Take a razor knife and carefully cut this bead (between the wall and the top of the base.) Try not to damage the wall.
  2. Use a flat prybar to reach behind the old baseboard and gently start prying it away from the wall. Pry a little at a time, move along the wall a few inches, then pry again. By repeating this process, the board will come loose.
  3. Once you have pried the board off the wall, remove any remaining nails that didn’t come off with the baseboard. You can pull them out or tap them in, flush with the wall.
  4. Scrape away the remaining caulk and patch any holes or dents in the walls that occurred while prying.

Now you’re ready to install the new baseboard. Proceed as above.

When prying old baseboards away from the wall, use a thin, wide piece of wood between the wall and your bar. A scrap of plywood or furring strip will do nicely. This will prevent the bar from damaging the wall.

Installing baseboard moulding

Even when fastening your baseboard with nails, putting a bit of construction adhesive on the back of each piece is a good idea. This extra step helps keep the baseboard in place permanently and allows you to use fewer fasteners.

Have a minor repair to make? If a piece of baseboard or trim comes loose, there’s no need to get out the hammer and nails or the caulk gun. Just do a quick repair using Loctite Extreme Gel. A versatile, gap-filling glue that will bond to almost anything, this adhesive cures quickly and dries clear for hard-to-spot repairs. It’s even durable enough to use outdoors. 

Would you like to add baseboard to a brick or stone wall? Use a strong adhesive to glue the baseboard in place. Try Loctite Epoxy Metal/Concrete for a job like that. This two-part adhesive bonds to wood, concrete, brick, and many other surfaces. It sets in about 10 minutes and stands up to moisture and vibration.