Installing a Baseboard

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated May 26, 2021)

Installing a baseboard is probably one of the easiest, though time consuming, tasks that a home owner can undertake. Easiest in the sense that all you really need is a set of instructions, some determination, and the right tools and you can get the job done. This is also a time consuming task because it largely depends on the size of the room that you are working on, as well as your comfort level around tools. In fact, this is a perfect weekend project.

Materials needed:

  • Caulk
  • Finishing nails
  • Molding
  • Tape measure
  • Hand miter saw
  • Power miter saw (optional)
  • Hammer
  • Square
  • Nail set
  • Coping saw
  • Chop saw
  • Rat-tail file
  • Sliding T-bevel


  1. Make your measurements. Choose a single wall of your room to start with, preferably the wall opposite the door, or one that has no door on it. Along the floor, measure the wall and write the measurements down. Do this a minimum of two times to ensure that you have accurate measurements.
  2. Mark and make your cut. Measure off the distance of the wall plus an additional 1/8 inch, onto a piece of baseboard. At the end of the distance make a straight mark in pencil, using a square to ensure that the mark is perfectly square. Carefully begin to cut along the mark on the baseboard using a chop saw. Keep in mind that the slower you lower the saw then the smoother the cut will be.
  3. Start installing the baseboard. Put each end of baseboard that you cut into the corners of the wall. Do not worry if the baseboard bows since it is going to be slightly longer than necessary. This greater length will ensure that baseboard stays put while you are doing your work. Don't worry about any irregularities in the flooring, since they won't be noticeable after complete installation.
  4. Nail the baseboard to the wall. Attach the baseboard into the 2 inch by 4 inch base plate that runs along the inside of any wall. Drive the finishing nails at an angle down into the base plate to properly secure the baseboard. Start in the center of the wall, and work towards each corner. Place a nail every 12 to 16 inches along the way. Sometimes it may be difficult to drive the nails through the baseboards, and if you find yourself in this situation predrill the holes into the baseboard.
  5. Begin coping the baseboard. Measure the distance of the next wall, from the corner where you finished installing your starting baseboard, to the next corner. Cut a piece of baseboard molding so that it is slightly longer than what you will need. Create a miter cut on the end you will be coping. Trace the miter with a pencil so that it stands out.
  6. Cut out the cope. Using a coping saw, begin to cut along the trace of the miter cut. Be sure that you angle the coping saw slightly so that you create a pointed edge that can fit snugly into the other piece of baseboard. To get the smoothest possible cut, make sure that you use a really fine blade, and do not push the saw forward, since this can cause it to jam.
  7. Fine tune your cope joint. Place the mitered and coped baseboard against the fully installed baseboard. Check to see if there is any gaps, or snags. If there are then use a rat-tail file to get rid of those problems. Later on you can use some caulking to fill in any mistakes that you may make.
  8. Repeat the process for remaining baseboards. Repeat steps one through seven until you have installed baseboards all around the room. For the final wall, usually the one that has the door, you may need to cope the baseboards again, so don't be surprised.
  9. Cut and install quarter round molding. Quarter round molding, also known as shoe molding, will help to hide any imperfections in the flooring and the baseboards. These pieces of molding should be cut a little longer than the walls, just like their bigger brothers. In this case the moldings should be cut 1/16 of an inch longer than necessary. Nail the quarter round molding to the baseboards in the same manner as before. Be careful though that you do not split the molding.
  10. Miter outside corners. Often outside corners will require a little bit of extra work. The easiest way to do this is to simply miter the corners so that they fit properly. As you do this, check to make sure that there are no excessive gaps or spaces. If there are any small gaps, use a little bit of caulking to seal the gaps.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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