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How to Install BASEBOARD-110 for $2.00/ft

large mdf white painted moldingTraditional Style

Finish Carpenter Price c. $9.00/lf + $10.00/Corner or Return

A Doric baseboard straight from Andrea Palladio’s First Book of Architecture.

You can use this powerful baseboard to serve as the foundation of your traditional style home’s architectural treatments.

Best of all it’s really easy to install.  I’ll show you how!

[This is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]

Historic Inspiration

This is less an inspired-by design than an accurate reproduction of a Greek Revival or Georgian style baseboard.


If you’re looking for some American historic precedent for installing it in your home, you need look no further than Thomas Jefferson’s, Monticello; though the scale of his baseboards seems exaggerated to my eye.

how to install diy kitchen baseboard moldings

baseboard molding

Note how the baseboard wraps around the kitchen wainscoting pedestals “supporting” the pilasters.

How to Determine Baseboard Dimensions

Your baseboard thickness and height are dependent on how thick and tall your door casing/plinth blocks are, so it’s best to design them together.

how to install diy baseboard moldings

Traditional/Greek Revival/Georgian baseboard dimensions.

Ideally, you don’t want your baseboards to be flush with the surface of your door casing or plinth blocks.

That’s because door openings are notorious for being out of square and plumb, making it hard to predict if baseboard moldings will end up flush or proud of your door moldings.

To be safe, leave yourself some reveal space.

diy greek revival baseboard molding

Leave yourself some wiggle room when designing reveals into your stacked molding designs.

I needed this baseboard to be just shy of the 1-1/16″ thick plinth blocks I installed in our kitchen; stacking two 1/2″ thick mdf boards gave me the exact thickness I needed.

Materials Needed to Make this Baseboard

For more detail about each molding see my DIY Molding Inventory page.

Note: I did not calculate the cost of nailers into this price because you will probably use some other material, or if you’re like me, you just ended up using scrap material that would have otherwise been thrown away.

CM-005

Orientation  This is one of those rare instances where you can turn this molding profile upside down when you install it.

Projection  This molding projects 15/16″ from the wall, and so my baseboard thickness had to accommodate that thickness and leave me a small reveal.

More about CM-005 here >>

crown molding small pine material lowes

$1.50/lf

MDF-200

I used this mdf board for both the main portion of the baseboard and for the nailers.  But you can use any material you want for the nailers so you can get the exact thickness needed.

I ripped the mdf board down to 5-3/4″ wide strips.

More about MDF-200 here >>

mdf for baseboard moldings

c. $0.50/lf.

How to Install BASEBOARD-110 Step by Step

[This installation sequence is part of Our Molding Makeover series.]

Overview

There are three basic steps to installing this baseboard:

  1. Remove the old baseboard
  2. Install the nailers
  3. Install the mdf flat-stock
  4. Install the baseboard cap

When you are finished with those three steps you can prep for paint:

  1. Fill nail holes with spackling and then sand them flush
  2. Vacuum the dust off the baseboards and then wipe down with slightly damp rag
  3. Prime and then sand
  4. Vacuum the sanded primer dust and then wipe down with slightly damp rag
  5. Caulk all gaps
  6. Apply two finish coats of paint

Step 1  Remove the Old Baseboard

It’s hardly worth mentioning, but remove the old baseboard.  Our baseboard — like apparently all baseboards in Arizona — were grouted into the tile, grrrr!

Step 2  Install the Nailers

Glue and nail the nailer strips to the wall.

diy baseboard moldings in kitchen

Use Liquid Nails and 18 g brad nails to fasten the nailers to the wall.

Step 3  Install the MDF Flat-Stock

I like to sand the very top of the baseboard before I install it.  That way I don’t have to sand the tiny reveal at the top after the base cap is installed, a much harder way to go about it.

Since this is a small outside corner, I glued and nailed the miters and let them dry before gluing and nailing the flat-stock to the nailers as one piece.

diy mdf kitchen baseboard moldings

Give the glue on the outside miter enough time to dry before installation.

mdf baseboard moldings

Liquid Nails and 18 gauge brad nails hold it all in place.

Rounded Corners

How do I feel about rounded corners in houses?

I hate them.

A molding’s profile is best expressed on an outside corner, and breaking the corner into a series of 22.5 degree miters weakens the profile so much that I just can’t bring myself to using them.

It’s not wrong if you do, but I won’t.

Step 4  Install the Base Cap Molding

Ogee base cap moldings

 

Prepare the Baseboard for Paint

Spackle/Sand/Vacuum/Wipe/Prime/Sand/Vacuum/Wipe/Paint

Spackle all the nail holes and then fill the larger gaps, the ones that need to be sculpted, with spackling.  Small gaps can be caulked after you prime and sand the baseboard.

Sand it all down when the spackling is dry.

moldings on rounded corners

Below  Walls are almost always bowed between doors and corners.

A gap as large as the one below should be spackled rather than caulked because the caulk will dry with a cup at the top but the spackling will hold it’s shape after you sculpt it.

This matters because it’s much easier to paint a straight line to the sculpted spackling than it is to the cupped caulk.

mdf baseboard in kitchen

Below  Make sure you putty knife has square corners so you get nice edges against the wall.

kitchen baseboard molding installation

Note:  If your walls are textured like ours, then you have to take the extra step of wiping the spackling (or caulk) out of the pits in the texture.

If you don’t the wall will be oddly smooth just above the baseboard when you are finished painting everything.

large kitchen baseboard molding

 Below  The baseboard sanded and ready to prime.

Large diy baseboard on wainscoting

Go to my Consumables page to read more details about the primer I used.

primed mdf baseboard molding

how to sand primed diy baseboard

Below  I always run my finger tips over every inch of sanded moldings to feel for imperfections that are not visible to the eye and yet would show up under the finish coat of paint.

mdf baseboard molding

baseboard trim molding

diy mdf baseboard molding

Below  I use regular old painter’s caulk on my moldings.  Premium caulks with lots of silicone shrink too much for use on moldings.

caulk baseboard trimwork

large kitchen baseboard trim molding

If you want more information about painting moldings, I have more detailed instructions on my How to Paint Moldings page.

 

finish carpenter installing wainscotingWAINSCOTING-109 Part 5

This post includes step by step instructions showing you how I installed this baseboard on the dining room wainscoting.

And don’t forget to subscribe to The Joy of Moldings so you can see the moldings and paint colors I use in each of the rooms in Our Molding Makeover.

Good luck installing your own large baseboards!

11 Responses to How to Install BASEBOARD-110 for $2.00/ft

  1. Chris June 29, 2012 at 7:20 AM #

    no shoe? When to use a shoe and when not to, and why?

  2. Ken June 29, 2012 at 10:30 AM #

    Chris, base shoes are very much an optional item, though this baseboard pattern is stronger without it.

    Base shoes can be serve the function of covering the gap between an uneven floor and the bottom of the baseboard, or they can be decorative.

  3. Nabeel June 29, 2012 at 10:31 AM #

    Since you have a bullnose outside corner, it would look better if you made 4 cuts of 25 degrees each (for a 90 degree corner) instead of two cuts of 45 degrees each. That would a lot nicer for bullnose corner and you wouldnt have to putty or spackle much. You would get a nice round shape for your baseboard. That’s what i do for crown moulding. it looks really great! you should try it out!!

  4. Ken June 29, 2012 at 10:46 AM #

    Nabeel,

    Yes, I’ve done that for my clients who wanted to break the baseboard and crown.

    But as I explained in the post, for me it weakens the profile so much that I just will not do it in my own home.

    Plus, our molding patterns are Greek Revival style, and that’s about as traditional as you can get; yet rounded corners are purely contemporary, so I want to de-emphasize them as much as possible.

    I’d like to add that my whole approach to decorating with moldings stems from the challenge of making do with what you have in an average home — in our case that means installing traditional moldings on contemporary rounded corners.

    Would we like to start from scratch and design the perfect home to show off our moldings? Sure. But that’s not practical for most home owners, we just want to make our current home nicer.

    By the way, Nabeel, we’d love to show off your version of installing moldings on rounded corners. If you’d like that just email us some pictures and we’ll post them so our readers can see how you do it.

    Cheers!

  5. Christa July 10, 2012 at 10:45 AM #

    For the bottom piece of your baseboards did you cut a 45 degree angle for the outside corner of the wall? Or did you just use a regular cut fill the seam?

  6. Ken July 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM #

    Hi Christa,

    You guessed it, a 45 degree outside miter is what I used.

    In fact it was when cutting the miter for this very corner that I discovered that my 12″ Rigid miter saw could not handle the cut — it’s vertical limit is about 5″.

    I’d been so used to using my professional-grade miter saws that I never even considered that you could not stand mdf flat-stock more 5″ than up against the fence.

    In fact, Christa, I should write a quick post pointing that out right now.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Steven, Dallas October 1, 2012 at 3:49 PM #

    Having trouble finding the base cap you used at my Lowe’s.(cm-005)
    Any ideas ?

  8. Ken October 11, 2012 at 2:05 PM #

    Steven, the item number CM-005 is my own convention, so you won’t find it on Lowe’s website. I looked it up though and here’s the link: Pattern 68.

    If they don’t stock it you could special order it or you could find it at most any decent cabinet shop in town. Good luck!

  9. Robert Kubler October 15, 2012 at 2:33 PM #

    Yeah, those item numbers really threw me. I went to Lowe’s looking for CM-005 and was flabbergasted I couldn’t find it. I figured your item numbers then came from a specialty shop for cabinets/moldings. Thanks for the clarity.

  10. Ken October 15, 2012 at 6:07 PM #

    I had to come up with my own item numbers a long time ago because retailers and manufaturers are always changing their item numbers.

    One week you order a molding by item number X, next month you try to order the same thing and no one behind the counter knows what you’re talking about.

  11. Bobby big wheel January 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM #

    Sanding mdf with no mask. Mmmm. Formaldehyde!

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