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Base Boards. A question to the more experienced.

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Topic by MarkTheFiddler posted 07-18-2012 09:49 PM 20593 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-18-2012 09:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hallway floors tiles walls flooring question tip

I’m sure this just a bread and butter topic to you professionals here but this Rookie would really appreciate your feedback and advice.

I’ve put down new baseboard before but I never thought I did it right.

Is there such a thing as a square corner? I’m wondering if this is something I just have to live with. I can’t get my baseboard corners to fit just so and I get frustrated. I usually end slicing too much baseboard off then shoving wood filler into the corner.

Question 1: What’s a good way to make the base boards fit neatly in the corner when the corners are imprecise?

In my case the inside corners of the hall are within 1.5 inches from the door trim. It seems to me that builders go with good enough and not perfection when it comes down to corners. They also know how they will tweak the base board to make it look right.

Question 2: In addition to question one, are there more tricks to fitting base board into a corner when the corner is super close to door trim?

Next issue, because of those really tight corners, my quarter round is as wide as the gap next to the door trim. In other words, I can butt it right against the base board between the corner and the door trim and cover the entire front of the base board. Since I have never thought to pay attention to that kind of detailing before I’m not sure what to do. I’d actually like to make the turn and then put a blind return on the end.

Now once again I may be using the wrong contractor language so I’ll share an image of my dry fit.

The blind return is what I did to the end of the quarter round.

Question 3: Should I butt the quarter round into the corner or actually make the turn and finish with a blind return?

Question 4: How should I finish the gaps between the top of the baseboard and the wall?

The Base board I selected is thicker than the door trim and the door trim is rounded.

Question 5: Since the Base board and door trim don’t match up, what can I do to make that look better?

If you you see something in my image I should correct now or you have a tip for the future please feel free, encouraged actually, to share that as well.

Thanks so much for looking! Thanks even more for any valuable input.

Mark

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.



View GaryL's profile

GaryL

208 posts in 2787 days

07-18-2012 10:04 PM

Having chosen a base molding that is thicker than the casing does make things difficult. The best case is to change out the casing to a style that the base will butt into correctly or cut the casing to fit a thicker (5/4 ?) plinth block. This way the base has something thicker to butt into.
The corner (1 1/2” from casing) issue is fairly simple if I understand the situation correctly. Put the 1 1/2” pc of base in first then cope your longer piece into that. If you’re not sure about the coping, Google or Youtube it for some videos to see how it’s done. A video would be esier to understand than trying to explain in text.
The return on your 1/4 round is fine. A suggestion would be to use shoe mold if possible. It does not protrude out as far. Many times I just cut them back on a 15 deg. angle rather than returning them.

-- The difference between a pro and an amateur, an amateur points out his mistakes

View J's profile

J

70 posts in 2197 days

07-19-2012 03:36 AM

I agree with Gary, go with a plinth block at the base of the door 5/4, or maybe in your case thicker, so you can butt what looks like shoe moulding int the plinth block cleaning up the need for returns or excessive trim work that just looks busy.

Q #1 the best way to fit a corner is take a couple of 2or 3 foot scraps and figure out what angle cuts look best in that inside corner, framers rarely leave a sqaure corner and drywall mud makes it more difficult. Put your tape measure away and fit each piece with a pencil and scribe marks, sneak up on your cuts until you are good at knowing how things fit.

Q#2 If the space is to small between the wall and the door casing then run your mouldings into the door casing as far as they will go sometimes to get a tight fit you will have to shave the backs off of your moulding. Sometimes it is just not worth trying to make the piece, keep your fingers in tact, they are only useful attached to your hands.

Q#3 Cope cuts produce the best results on inside corners no matter what the angle

Q#4 Caulking works, if your trim and walls are painted then caulk with white, let dry and touch up paint along the edges. If you want to use stained wood trim then use clear drying acrylic caulk applied to the back of the trim (or goo it in after the trim is installed if you know how to handle your caulk) so when you nail it to the wall it pushes up on to the painted part of the wall and then you can use a finger to tool it out. After it dries touch up the paint with a cut brush, you should be able to get a nice sharp paint line where the trim meets the wall.

Q#5 Plinth block, the first part of my answer and Gary explains it as well. you may also want to get rid of your shoe moulding as well, usually it has been installed to hide a flaw with a previous install, maybe with your flooring?
Good luck with your project.

-- I found the board stretcher... finally!

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-19-2012 03:59 AM

Gary,

Your suggestions are flat out killing me.

I started looking for plinth blocks and went absolutely nuts over some of the options I found. Man! There are some fantastic choices available. Be that as it may, I think I should give my own hand a try. As I see understand it the plinth block must of equal or greater height to the base board. It must be as thick or thicker than the thickest part of the base board. It really should be the same width as the door molding. As long as I’m going to that amount of trouble, I might as well add a matching square to the top of the door molding.

Here is where it’s killing me. Now that you suggested the plinths, I have to use the plinths. I can see no other way around it. Well – there is a way around it but “I” won’t be happy unless I use plinths.

Coping – I get it. I just need to purchase the cutting blade. I was already thinking that I could cut away some of the backside of the baseboard to make it work. The coping video on youtube told me that I had the right idea but I just wasn’t imagining it far enough. Great lead! Great solution. That’s what I’m going to do

The shoe molding is a really great suggestion and appropriate. Unfortunately, The quarter round is covering up an obnoxiously thick grout line undernearth, and I’m already using the same quarter round elsewhere in the house. I’m going to go ahead and stick with what I have. Since I have already used blind returns in other parts of the house, I’ll carry on with that method as well.

Gary – Thank You. You made a huge difference in my project

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-19-2012 04:34 AM

J,

Looks like we were posting at the same time.

Busy – I think that’s an accurate description. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

Sneaking up on the corners is another useful tip. I need to leave the science of geometry alone for a while and understand that this baseboards are just going to take longer than I hoped. Still, Your solution satisfies my “retentive” nature.

I’m not real good with caulking but I can certainly apply some painters tape on the wall and the base boards to keep them both clean and get a nice finished look. I was hoping caulk wasn’t going to be the answer but I can live with it and I think I can do a really neat job. I’ll just need to be really patient and deliberate with my prep work. After that, the caulking should be a breeze. I’ll try a little a little freehand on the touch up work. My freehand is really quite good with latex but that oil paint seems to be a different animal to me. If I start to see too many errors, I’ll stop and get the tape out again. Right now I’m thinking it will be worth it to try EVERYTHING I can to eliminate any gaps.

I confessed to Gary about the quarter round. Yes – it’s my tile work I need to cover. The tile I bought is really a little too small for that hallway. The base board and quarter round are covering a mother of a grout line. Now I get to decide if I stay with a busy return on the quarter round or I put and extra thick plinth up. Either way, the plinths are in.

J – thank you so much for the time you took to respond. Both you and Gary have given me outstanding advice. You may have added a week to the project but I’d rather spend the time now rather than hate it for years.

Mark

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View J's profile

J

70 posts in 2197 days

07-19-2012 05:52 AM

Mark – try using DAP brand clear caulking, its cheap, doesn’t shrink up weird, applies kind of white and cleans up with a wet rag and dries clear. The real keys to doing a good job with caulk is cutting the smallest hole you can use to fill the gap in ONE pass, if there are larger gaps fill those first so you can make a final pass that fills the remaining gap without leaving excess caulking. The other thing that will help you is whether you push the bead or pull the bead of caulking. Follow that up with a swipe of the finger to tool out the bead, and if you wet your finger with saliva, yes spit, not phlegm, but spit and the caulk won’t stick to your finger. Keep a wet towel with you to wipe off heavy spots (touch them up later) and another paper towel to wipe your finger and throw away when it becomes dirty. And if you screw up badly with the clear dap use a bucket of water and a wet towel/sponge to clean it all off and start again once it’s dry.

Just keep in mind, if you use a wet rag to smooth out caulking—the water in the rag will displace some of the caulking resulting in small gaps and the need to add another thin layer of calking (and another day/step prolonging your project).

There is no shame in building up your base trim, it will only look bad if you approach it like you are trying to cover a problem. If it is not too late I would change your quarter round with an ogee shoe mould, you can easily make it with a router and a tablesaw, of the mdf version isn’t that expensive.

-- I found the board stretcher... finally!

View BillyJ's profile

BillyJ

258 posts in 3258 days

07-19-2012 04:12 PM

GaryL & J are absolutely correct on everything (not that my word means anything). I do, however, like the half-round return. All things considered, it does finish it (and shows you took some time in making it old-school).

To continue with what J just said about bulking up – what style are you going for? Meaning, would a larger base look out of characteristic to the rest of the house? The larger the base, the more you can build it up at the floor.

A couple of good resources for molding, both application and theory, can be found at: http://www.garymkatz.com/ Gary Katz has published many good articles on molding – both in what is correct, along with video’s on how to do it properly.

Also, if you can put it off for a couple of days, order Theory of Mouldings by C. Howard Walker. It’s one of the classics originally published in 1926, but provides a lot of insight into something that is commonly overlooked today.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

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GaryL

208 posts in 2787 days

07-19-2012 05:59 PM

To add to Billy’s thought…if your going for period accuracy that’s a whole new ball game. Period moldings and the build ups involved are expensive. I currently have an order to run some casings for a 1870’s federal style home to match the originals. Luckily the back banding is simple and readily available.

-- The difference between a pro and an amateur, an amateur points out his mistakes

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-19-2012 10:15 PM

Let’s see here.

Thanks J! I feel quite a bit more confident about caulking the baseboard. It’s just going to take as long as it takes. Throwing out the idea that baseboards are quick has helped my perspective. Throwing out the idea that I can do some really quick caulk work has also helped. I just need to be ready for a good careful session. Cleaning up often will be a part of that session. I can get into a zone when I do that type of work where I’m super careful and intentional about what I’m doing. I call it meditation time. I’m actually looking forward to that.

Thanks for the resource Billy! I’ll be buying it.

About the style of the house – there are 2 things.
First: It’s 35 year’s old so I don’t think I can violate any period style concerns. I am very fortunate about that.
Second: Being concerned about changes that will impact resale of the house are absolutely out the window. You can imagine how great it feels to say, “My house, You can worry about reselling it after I’m dead.” I love my children and my wife but reselling is not gonna happen in my lifetime.

Ahh yes!

So here I go doing what I like and guess what? You all have helped me immensely with the base board not matching up with the door trim. That door trim is the exact same cheapo stuff the sell at the box stores for $9.00. I’m going to rip every stick of that door trim out of my house. I don’t care if it’s stained or painted. It’s gone. I kept thinking about the plinths and seeing these stunning designs against the door trim. It was like putting lipstick and high heels on a sow and calling it pretty. It just wasn’t working for me.

I like the baseboard a lot. I’m going to like the door trim a lot. I’m going to try to make the door trim myself although I don’t “see” it yet. Still I am thrilled to death. The mismatch on the baseboard to door trim will stay that way for a while until I sort out what it will look like in my mind. I’m going to fry some other fish for a while because the door trim went from a nuissance to inspiration. 100 or so hours of work on the door trim will now be something I look forward to.

You guys are awesome!!! Thank you thank you thank you!

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-20-2012 03:40 AM

Hey guys, Since I guit a little early tonight, I actually tried some serious coping skills…... Here are the results of my careful attempts.

Not quite ready for prime time but I think the potential is there to do a decent job. I’ll take some more practice runs tomorrow night.

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View J's profile

J

70 posts in 2197 days

07-20-2012 04:31 AM

That is really good coping job. You are hired!

Coping a complicated piece like that is very difficult, especially for a first timer.

Another tidbit of trim experience that I didn’t make clear or offer you is—first, cut your inside miters at 90* so regardless of the drywall you know the trim fits together, the next step (to account for the problems with drywall) is to shave off the backside of the trim leaving the visible parts, the top and the front, untouched (once shaved thinner – if you can pre nail from the inside backside of the trim do that) then final fit your corner to the wall and caulk/pin 23ga/brad 18ga into place.

It’s great to know you are inspired, even a year into your project. Keep grinding away! A lifetime of living with a good job is worth the sacrifice of a couple years.

-- I found the board stretcher... finally!

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-20-2012 04:52 AM

Thanks for the compliment J.
I’m not quite “seeing” how to handle some of your advice.
Would you mind helping to understand this tidbit?

if you can pre nail from the inside backside of the trim do that)

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-20-2012 05:58 AM

Maybe if I get this idea out on the website, it will go away.

This idea for door molding keeps popping into my head.

The molding is actually framed with 1/2 inch strips that are actually 1/8 thicker than the inside pattern. The crosshatch lines are table saw blade width. If I wanted to go nuts, the center diamonds are painted the same color as the wall.

To make the cuts, I would build a table saw sled with a narrow board at the back. I wouldn’t even get into making that part precise. The precision would have to come from 2 miter angled back boards that intersect. Naturally the would be a big gap in the center of the intersection and the kerf so the boards would fit both ways. A small blade width strip of wood would be used on both sides of the miter to give a little track for the groove to rest on while the next is being cut. You simply keep moving the new cut over the groove and cutting again.

The need for super precision would come from making sure the jig or “track” on one leg of the X is exactly the same on the other side. In addition, the first cross cut in the molding would have to be dead on. The “precise” track would make the remaing cuts a breeze. Scratch that, the first cut in the opposite direction can rely on a groove that was made on the other side. In other words the track wouldn’t be vertical, it would horizontal. And the old grooves would fit on it.

Now that I put the idea down, I can toss it in favor of a more classic door molding that will work with my base board. However, you just never know when that idea will turn into some art work project for me or actually turn into door trim for one of your clients who has a lot of bucks and likes southwestern decor.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It’s late and he has lost his mind.

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View J's profile

J

70 posts in 2197 days

07-20-2012 06:40 AM

Since I hate touch up and having to go back and fill holes in trim, I take any opportunity I can to hide my fasteners. Here are a couple of poor quality pictures of a mitered inside corner where (I did no fitting it’s just for example only) I nailed from the back with 23ga 1 1/4” pin nails, and yes I intentionally shot them through so they would show, normally I wouldn’t use as many or try to miss the meat of the trim, and I also took a razor knife and shaved off the back (sometimes it takes more shaving depending on the corner) to get your pre nailed inside corner to fit tight at the top.

I really didn’t try and make this look neat or precise, but I hope it works as an example. I’m always happy to add clarification. I hope this makes sense to you.

-J

I’d use your trim idea as an inlay on a tabletop or something along those lines, but that’s just me.

-- I found the board stretcher... finally!

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

07-20-2012 01:08 PM

J,
That’s perfect, thank you for taking the time to explain and giving me such explicit images. I will definately use that method once I see that my dry fit is good.

Mark.

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

View Becky's profile

Becky

86 posts in 2900 days

09-26-2013 05:20 PM

Late to the party as always – thanks Mark for starting the convo before me and thanks guys for the resources :) going to check them out before I post back to the forum:)

-- aspiring jill of all trades

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MarkTheFiddler

447 posts in 2223 days

09-27-2013 01:01 PM

Your welcome Rhybeka. Best of luck!

-- Working on my home for 2 years and counting.

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jimmyhopps

1 post in 1591 days

03-13-2014 01:36 PM

aesthetically, you should go without the toe in that situation, in my opinion. or return it. a little mud or caulk to fill the gaps at the top if required. cut fat the first time, not 100% sure of the length.

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