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