It’s a project that I’ve been meaning to tackle since I moved in: Office baseboard trim. And herein begins girl’s first-ever baseboard trim adventure.
Let me start here: I have no idea why there isn’t baseboard running along the hardwoods and drywall in the office. On the other side of the wall, the master bedroom sports both baseboard and crown moulding. There’s really no clear answer to why they forgot the trim or decided not to spend the $75 to finish the room off, especially since it was a kid’s bedroom when the previous owners were here and the base of the drywall is a bit crumbly (read: edible-chunky, perfect for bambinos); the windows and door are finished to match the rest of the trim in the house, so I’m left with a big question mark floating in a thought bubble above my head over why they left such a significant part of the room unfinished.
But leave it to me to notice and ignore this issue for almost 3 years. Until a few months ago when I reinvented the room to be our functional office, I didn’t spend much time in there, so finishing someone else’s job wasn’t high on my to-do list.
Side note: Sneak peek of some patched walls of the bathroom in the background, more progress has been made, and I’ll fill you in later this week!
The real reason I’m tackling this project this month, is because I know that in the next few weeks I’ll be challenged to add new trim in the new bathroom (we’re still not close to installing it, but I know it’ll be here before I know it; last update on DIY Network can be viewed here, in case you missed it). I didn’t want the bathroom experience to be my first time installing baseboard, so doing a practice run in the only other room of the house that’s in need seemed appropriate.
Check out the baseboards in the rest of the house:
- For the most part, they’re a simple construction. 1×8 boards, routed on the exposed top end. No ornate or economy-pack builder trim in this 1940’s house. I do love their hunky chunkiness. A lot.
- The baseboards are intentionally tall because most of the walls are still lath and plaster, and those don’t extend all the way down to the hardwoods. The tall baseboard covers a gap that can be as narrow as 1″ or as wide as 6″.
- The simple style doesn’t stop at the baseboards, it also extends all around the doorways and windows too, which I like.
I knew I wanted to duplicate the other baseboards in the house to make the more recently office seem more original to flow with the rest of the house, even if it was more recently finished with drywall. And of course, it would be nice to try and match the door and window trim that’s already installed. I started out by roughly measuring the perimeter of the room (less doorways) to see how much lumber I’d need.
Measurements in hand, I headed out to Home Depot. No shopping around for simple 1×8 boards, I was on a mission; it was in the middle of a friendly snowstorm, and it was the big box closest to my pad.
Knowing that I was heading out to buy just shy of 40-feet of lumber, I did price out a few different lengths of 8″ boards for price efficiencies (the real measurement of the 8′ boards I found is 7.25″ wide, which is close to the height of the existing baseboard that I measured).
- Premium No. 1 white pine 1x8x8 boards cost $18.17 (or $2.27/linear foot)
- The longest No.2 quality (slightly knottier) were 1x8x12, and cost $14.67 (or $1.22/lf – getting better!). The only reason I considered getting one was because I could have the longest wall installed with a single board, but lengthy 12-foot boards don’t easily fit in my Jeep, especially during snowstorms.
- The No.2 1x8x10 boards were $12.57 each (or $1.26/lf)
- And the shortest 1x8x8 boards in a No.2 quality were $9.42 each, so I brought home 6, knowing that it’d be good to have some extra on hand for mis-cuts and any leftovers could be applied to the bathroom baseboard trim. Also, I really expected them to be more expensive than the 10′ boards, but they were actually only $1.17/linear foor, almost half the cost of the premium variety of the same dimensions, wow!)
In addition to picking up the six 1x8x8 boards to extend around the perimeter of the room, I had to purchase an equal amount of base shoe (different kind of shoe than my cute blue leathers shown yesterday). Note in this next picture that it is a slightly different shape than quarter-round, a little longer (or taller) on one end. I do not know why, but think it’s a better proportion to wide baseboards than tiny quarter-round.
The store had base shoe stocked in both stain-ready and paint-ready varieties, and I was going to be painting them, but I still chose the stain-ready variety because it was natural wood, and would have a chance of having a more similar texture and finish to the pine boards I had already selected. At $.55/linear foot, the base shoe for the office ended up tacking on another $23 to my purchase. Trim is expensive, yo.
Back inside the house (safely out of the elements and in the basement), I used a 3/8″ router bit to round out the top outer edge of each 1x8x8 board; Pete bought a trio of bits when he was installing similar baseboard at his parent’s house, and I simply matched up the bit that looked most similar to the existing trim. (1/4″ was too little curvature, 1/2″ was a bit too much.)
With the bit secured in the router, I set out to round one edge on each board. Had to choose the routable edge carefully to ensure that the top and front of the board that would remain exposed in the room would be in good shape. For the most part, this wasn’t a problem, the lumber I picked through was in good condition.
I should mention, we don’t have a table router and in doing a project like this it would be super nice to have one,. The handheld model does pretty well if you have a steady hand, but to round the edge of the trim correctly, I needed to hold the whole tool at a horizontal angle and run it along the board that was laying flat (and clamped to) the sawhorses in the basement. Get a sense for what I’m saying in this next picture, where I’m looking straight down at how the router needed to be held – the bit faces away from me, and top of the tool leans into me.
Another side note: As far as I’m concerned, the router is the scariest tool we own. The rapidly spinning bit is completely exposed and I’m constantly checking to make sure it hasn’t come loose. The tool is heavy, and the on/off button is in a spot where you have to let go of the tool with one hand to turn it off. Also, while it’s whirling along, it spits out more sawdust than you can imagine; because of how I had to hold it here, the sawdust was flying directly into my face and getting into my eyes, mouth, and nose despite wearing the type of goggles that cover your face like a scuba mask, and an extra face mask and hooded sweatshirt. What I’m getting at is, operate with caution .
The first board I routed was a little wonky. I was still getting used to the rhythm of the machine. I did go back over it after I snapped this shot, so it’s slightly better now, but if it ends up being used, I’ll be sure to keep the board aside to be for a wall that’s more out-of-sight, like the chunk that’ll be behind the radiator.
On the pieces that turned out really nicely, the routed edge is subtle, but helps the boards instantly look just like the rest of the trim in the house with a sweet little groove at the top.
Before I began to install it, I wanted to have the wood partially prepped, because it’s always a thousand times easier to work with when it’s laying flat. I sanded each of the boards with Pete’s handheld sander (focusing on the exposed front and top), brushed each board really, really clean, and then I used some leftover primer and a paint roller to quickly and evenly coat the exposed surfaces. Actually, I applied two coats of primer for good measure, because there were some knots that really needed to be covered up; easier to add in a second coat of primer now than try and cut into the trim by hand three times with the real paint. It worked pretty well.
I sanded the base shoe too (by hand) and gave the edge that would be exposed a clean coat of primer.
Looking good, and I’m giving myself an A for DIY effort.