Properly finished and installed baseboard trim molding can be the difference between a professional looking finished basement, and a basement that was obviously finished by an amateur. Here are some tips to help you do the job right:
Tips for buying baseboard trim molding
- Buy the longest pieces of molding that you can. This will minimize the mitering you'll have to do between pieces. If you have a 30 foot long wall, two 16' pieces will be much easier to install than 4 pieces of 8 foot baseboard molding.
- For basements, pine molding is much cheaper and works just as well as oak molding. If you're on a tight budget, check out the pressed plastic molding too.
Completed baseboard installation-
painted, installed, & caulked.
- Since the ceilings in basements are usually lower than 8 feet, buy a shorter baseboard (2 inch) to help the walls look taller. A 4" baseboard molding in a basement will make the ceiling look even lower than it is!
- If you're planning to paint the molding (rather than stain) make sure you don't spend extra money buying stain-grade baseboard. Sure it will have nicer looking grain, but if you're painting over it- does it matter?
- Pre-primed molding costs a bit more but will save you the tedious task of priming your baseboard before you paint it.
- Invest in a compound miter saw rather than one of those cheapie hand saws. You'll save time and a lot of headaches.
- Measure how much molding you'll need, then add 15% - 20% to account for mistakes, waste, etc.
Tips for finishing baseboard molding
- When staining pine molding, be sure to use a pre-stain first. Pine is so soft it will not take stain evenly so you'll end up with a blotchy, uneven finish if you skip this important step.
- Buy paintable putty (or wood filler if you're staining) to fill in nail holes, seams, & corner cuts.
- When painting molding prior to installation, apply one coat of primer (if you haven't purchased pre-primed baseboard molding) and one coat of paint prior to installing the baseboard. Apply a second coat of paint after installing the baseboard molding. This will ensure any scuffs or markings creating during installation are covered, and will hide any filler you've applied to cover nail holes and less than perfect seams & corners. You also have the option of installing the trim prior to any painting or staining.
Tips for installing baseboard molding
- Test fit all pieces - especially outside corners before cutting.
- For pieces that are butting up against each other on a straight wall, hide the seam better by cutting them at 45 degree angles (front to back).
- Try to layout your pieces so that seams will be concealed behind furniture or in areas where they'll be less noticeable when possible. This will hide some of your less-than-perfect cuts.
- Test nail a scrap piece of molding to see if it splits. If you have any trouble with splitting, drill a pilot hole in the molding first. You can do this with your smallest drill bit, or by snipping the point off of a nail and using it in your drill.
Add a thin bead of caulk at the top of the baseboard. This will fill in any imperfections and give your baseboard molding a professional look.
A thin bead of caulk gives your molding a professional finish.
I'll be posting a complete step-by-step how to install baseboard article soon. For now, check out these books on baseboard molding & trim.
Classic Wainscoting - http://homefocus.com/424/classic_wainscoting_.htm.
Installing Wainscoting - http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/wa_wainscoting/