Baseboard Grand Supreme

January 23, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY, Office Space, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  13 responses

Yes, a grand supreme kind of champion. I even bought myself a trophy and a sash to make it official. Help me, I can’t stop making outlandish references to Toddlers and Tiaras since I watched it for the first time ever a few weeks ago; everyone deserves a tiara for trying, especially first-time trim-trepreneur. OK, annnd stop. It’s been cold and snowy for the last few days, and that gave me good reason to cozy up inside with the miter saw and some paint and install some masterful new office baseboard trim.

Like I mentioned last week when I bought and prepped the lumber for the approx. 90-sq.ft room ($75), I knew it’d make a big difference, but I didn’t realize the impact of the baseboard until I got started. It was pretty remarkable, if I do say so myself.

Trim install, looking good.

What I’m getting at is, if you have unfinished baseboard trim in your home, you’re going to want to tackle it after you see this.

The tools I used to install the baseboard were:

  • Dual-bevel compound miter saw. Doing any kind of mitered cuts by hand would be a pain in the butt, and if you just have a circular saw, I wish you the best but don’t guarantee accuracy with the wider boards. Treat yourself to a rental beveling saw from Home Depot for 4 hours, or borrow one from a friend. Worth it.
  • Jigsaw (I needed it because I had to work around radiator pipes, you may not have such conflict in your own room.)
  • Drill with 1/8″ drill bit
  • Nails (I used 4″ finishing nails)
  • 1″ headless cut brads nails (I used the pancake compressor and nail gun because I’m obsessed with it’s effortless nature, but this could be done easily by hand.)
  • Painter’s caulk
  • Wood filler + sandpaper (they’re like two peas in a pod)
  • Paint (straight out of the can semi-gloss white)

Just as a fun reminder, here are a few “befores” of the room, pre-shoe trim:

Unfinished. Crumbly. Sloppy.

Baseboard-less in the office.

Baseboard-less in the office.

As I began installing the wood that I had already routed and primed, I went slowly and took my sweet time in envisioning which way each of the mitered angles needed to be cut; it’s easy to not take all factors into consideration, like which side of the board needs to be facing out, that the routed edge that needs to be facing up, and that sometimes it’s an outer-corner cut.

Slowly means that I took it one single board at a time, dry fitting them in place around the room as I went to make sure they fit together like a puzzle. I did make a total of three mis-cuts during the whole process (mostly when I tried to memorize more than one cut at the same time as I ran between the basement and the second story bedroom).

Before I even got to the finishing base shoe installation, it was looking so much better than it had when I started.

Installing the baseboard, pre-base shoe.

Thankfully the walls were square; whoever drywalled the room last may have just put the drywall directly over the lath and plaster, but in the corners, they were more exacting than I had given them credit for.

Dry fitting the mitered pieces together against the wall.

When I got to the wall beneath the window, I knew I’d need to allow out some room in the baseboard for the radiator pipes that protruded through the wall. To figure out where they’d land in the piece of trim, I measured from the edge of the wall to the center of each pipes, noting the measurement, and transferring it to the baseboard itself. Adding on an extra 3/4″ of room on either side gave each 1/2″ pipe plenty of room, and I knew that the overage would be covered by the piece of trim on the radiator.

Marking where the radiator pipes would fall.

And that’s why I mentioned needing a jigsaw in my tool list; there’s any number of ways this could have been cut, but the jigsaw enabled a nice rounded edge to wrap around the top of the pipe (without actually touching it, there was about 3/4″ gap all around it. It fit right on the first try, for the record, whoop. Things don’t often happen so easily around here.

Cutting into the trim to allow room for radiator pipes.

After cutting baseboard to wrap around the whole room, I was ready to nail it in securely.  Because the walls were unfinished at the base, it was pretty easy to identify where the studs were located; we could see/feel them by tapping a nail around, and also the screws holding the drywall at the base were a dead giveaway (they had never been completely mudded over). I flagged their locations on the floor with little pieces of painters tape so that I knew where they were once I put the trim into place against the wall.

Marking off each wall stud so I knew where I could successfully hammer. I used 4″ flat head finishing nails to secure the baseboard into the studs; first, I pre-drilled a pilot hole into the baseboard where I’d want to nail it (just to make things easier and cleaner). I picked a spot in the upper third of the board to help keep the top of the board pinned securely.

Pre-drilling through the baseboard. And then tapped the nail through the hole and into the stud with a hammer. I did this every other stud; to do it in every single stud seemed like overkill.

Nail through the pilot hole into the stud.

I was able to tap the head of the nail slightly below the surface of the wood with a nail set so that the entire nail and hole could be patched with wood filler and painted over.

Tapping the nail in a little below the surface of the wood.

I securely nailed in each of the 8″ boards before moving onward with the base shoe install; also primed in advance, the base shoe received unique cuts as well to allow it to be mitered in and around every corner. On longer runs when two pieces of base shoe were required, I mitered two pieces to fit together securely, lessening the chance that a seam would show (I followed this same technique with the 8″ boards too, and it really seemed to make a nice transition):

Mitering two lengths together makes for a nicer seam.

Once all of the pieces were cut, installation was a snap with the help of the nail gun. Using 1″ flat head nails, I attached the base shoe directly to the 8″ board every 12-18″.

Trim install, looking good.

Before I painted the trim, I did go around and dab wood filler into each of the nail holes and seams, and seal entirely around the top of the 8″ board and where the base shoe meets the board with painters caulk; both steps helped to fill in small gaps between the trim and the semi-uneven wall, and left me with a nice finished look.

Pretty trim in place, with any obvious gaps caulked.

Once the trim was completely installed, seamless, and secure, the final steps involved sanding any proud spots of wood filler to make them even with the board, and paint them. I also lined blue painters tape along the edge of the trim that met the hardwood floors to avoid a mess, knowing that it’s a harder place to try and cut into than the top of the trim.

I used semi-gloss bright white straight out of the Behr can for the job (people ask what all of the trim in my house is, it’s just that, plain white, I’m that fancy), and modified a recycling bin milk jug to make scooting around the room with paint access just a little easier. Mess free, with just a paint brush to clean.

Getting my paint on. And using plastic jug from my milk as a little paint tray.

In the end, ooh-la-la. See why I bought myself a crown in celebration? Such a dramatic improvement.

Finished baseboard trim.

Finished baseboard trim.

From each angle, the room looks more complete, more finished, just like it was supposed to be all along. It’s nothing fancier than what’s installed in the rest of the house, and really still simple in the whole realm of what it is, and that was just the intent – to make it match and vibe with the rest of the 1940’s trim.

Not an outrageously expensive upgrade (when you consider the price-per-linear foot of trim and crown moulding), but still an investment at $75 + paint + nails. It was good practice for when I get working on the bathroom in the coming weeks.

An outer corner, looking great.

And an inner corner, looking great.

Even nice beneath the desk.

What’d you guys do over the weekend? Any other DIY trim endeavors in the works? Did anyone else spend three consecutive hours at Home Depot?

  • John@ Our Home from Scratch
    6 years ago - Reply

    Mmmm Grand Supreme. Sounds like something from Taco Bell. Baseboards came out great!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Taco Bell, Hard Shell Toddlers and Tiara’s, whatever. Glad you like!

  • Mindy
    6 years ago - Reply

    Toddlers and Tiara’s, LOL! I find that I can’t look away when I come upon it!
    Have you seen the promo for “Dance Moms”? It looks even worse!

    Baseboard looks great! You did a really nice job! I agree, the baseboard really “finishes” the room!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      I’ve been secretly hoping to find a marathon of Dance Moms one day (that’s the one with the instructor who’s always stomping around angry and yelling at the kids, right?). I haven’t seen anything beyond the previews, and that’s probably a good thing because I really don’t need to commit to watching anything else. Haha. Glad you like the trim!

  • Heather
    6 years ago - Reply

    I also spent two much time at the Home Depot when a bathroom sink install didn’t go according to plan. Your baseboards look fantastic!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Uh oh, plumbing issues? We’ve got a sink install in our future and picked up a few odds and ends for that on our trip! Glad you like the baseboards!

  • Reuben
    6 years ago - Reply

    Looks great. Fantastic work! I’m curious, though, why didn’t you use the nail gun to fasten the 8″ inch moulding as well? I would guess your 150 psi Porter Cable compressor would be up for the job. I’ve got the same unit and have used it a few times to attach 1x lumber to walls through lathe & plaster without any problems. Though you’d probably want something longer than the 1″ nails. Just curious.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      We left the framing nailer out of it because we only have big honkin’ nails for it, and the smaller nail gun that we own (and used) wouldn’t have held nails that were long enough to get through the board and the lath and the plaster into the stud; I think it maxes out at 1-5/8″ nails. But by first pre-drilling the boards, tapping the nails worked really easily and cleanly! Glad you like!

  • Suzanna
    6 years ago - Reply


    The trim looks great and really makes the room complete. Congrats!


    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Thanks Suzanna!

  • Kate
    6 years ago - Reply

    What a huge difference! It looks great!

  • Pete
    6 years ago - Reply

    She failed to mention that she was deathly ill with severe flu-like symptoms while she did this project.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Not *deathly* but it probably would have progressed faster if I was healthy. :)

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