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Installing baseboard is not rocket science once you have learned the simple tools and tricks you need. We know that it is quite easy to cope or miter inside and outside corners that meet a perfect right angle. What happens, however, when you realize that the walls are uneven or crooked?

1. Built-up walls and corners

Challenge:

If you lay a piece of baseboard against the wall and notice gaps between the top of the board and the wall, it is probably because there is a build-up of taping compound over a joint or a misaligned stud. You may see the same issue at inside and outside corners for the same reason.

Even though it is possible to scrape off small lumps using a putty knife, you will be unlikely to remove larger mounds of the compound or move a stud without causing a big mess. Instead, adjust the baseboard to fit around the problem.

Solution:

Thick baseboard that’s about ¾ inches thick, is likely to be inflexible and therefore not as easy to adjust to the wall. To get rid of the gaps, simply fill them with caulk. Select a paintable variety and force into the gap, filling it slightly higher than the top of the board. Wipe off the excess with a damp rag immediately and leave to set. Paint the caulk over the next day to match the color of the wall.

2. Tilted baseboards:

Challenge:

Narrow baseboard could easily tilt towards the wall at the bottom because the lower edge is likely to fit in between the floor molding and the drywall edge. Taller baseboards may not be affected because they can stand against the wall steadily. To see how titled they would be, push the baseboards firmly against the wall. 

Solution:

If the gaps are small and only visible at inside corners, treat them as tilted corners ( as below). If the gaps appear between the top of the trim and the wall, consider complementing the baseboard and the carpeting. In this case, fix the baseboard above the drywall gap. 

Cut a few pieces about ⅜- ½ inch thick to act as spacers. Place them every few feet apart and then rest the baseboard on top of them as you nail it into place. When the board is done, remove the spacers. 

Some carpet installers actually prefer to tuck the carpet fitting into the wall and will likely do so up to this dry-wall gap, covering it and leaving the baseboard standing out proudly.

3. Tilted corners

Challenge: 

Corner tape joints are sometimes not sanded or filled all the way down resulting in a slightly slanted corner. This will likely be why your baseboard does not meet at an inside corner perfectly despite accurate coping.

Solution:

To achieve a smooth inside corner, use test pieces of baseboard to figure out the final piece that will be permanently installed. Do this before you have nailed anything to the wall so you can easily remove it if it is not neat. 

Cut a perfect cope of on one end of a spare piece of baseboard that’s about a foot long. Leave the end of another piece square and attach these two at the corner. Push the pieces firmly in the wall especially at the bottom to mimic the pressure that will be exerted by nails once you have driven them in. If the pieces fit snugly into each other, proceed to use this measurement.

If they leave a gap at the bottom, put the pieces aside and drive a 2-inch screw half an inch above the floor and 1-2 inches from the corner behind the square-ended piece. Push it all the way until the head is protruding slightly above the drywall. Check the fit of the two pieces again. If they are still not perfect, adjust the screw in and out slowly while testing the pieces until you have found the right spot. Once you have this, proceed to now install your baseboard permanently. 

4. Imperfect outside corners

Challenge:

Just as with inside corners, outside corners do not always meet at exact right angles. Built-up drywall compound or imperfect corner framing may leave you with measurements that are slightly larger or smaller than a precise right angle. This means that the normal 45° mitered ends will not form a perfect fit. 

Solution:

The easiest way to work around this is to start with scrap pieces of board that are about 10 inches long. Cut the usual 45° mitered ends on each and fit them together to see how well they align. Adjust and resize the angles either more or less, cutting and testing until you have found the correct alignment. Save this angle on the miter saw and use it on the finished baseboard pieces. 

Don’t assume that the correct angle will have to a whole number; even a half-degree adjustment is likely to make a whole world of a difference!

Have you encountered any other challenges besides these? With a little bit of creativity and flexibility, you can work around any challenge and ensure that your space is done exactly to your liking.


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