Instead of reusing our builder grade ’80’s baseboard, we decided the we wanted a more… go figure “modern” look in our house. While I do appreciate that fancy moldings and such can equate to more expensive look in some instances, but we are going for clean and minimal. As I’m sure I’ve stated before, it’s the details that make a difference. We decided to use plain pre-primed 1×6 boards. We chose a 6 inch height because most of our ceilings are so tall and the rooms can handle it.
I set up the boards on sawhorses in the garage to prepare them.
I did find that sanding around 20-30 minutes after smearing on the wood filler made for easier sanding: the filler haven’t set completely. If I sanded too soon, the wood filler would get pulled out of the imperfections. If I waited hours or days, the wood filler would be hard as a rock and made sanding more difficult. It also helps to smear the filler down as smooth as possible from the beginning.
Over in the hall/ living room transition (before we removed the old living room baseboard) you can really see the height difference. The old baseboard just looked beat up after 30+ years.
Initially, we did what normal people do and used our nail gun with small nails to secure the the baseboards to the walls. We actually had already done the kitchen months before and found that, since our walls are not straight, the nails were not strong enough to hold the baseboard firmly against the walls. Even though it would mean a larger hole and more wood filler, we decided to countersink and screw our baseboards to the walls. (I’m sure the future owners of this house will love us.)
My big bin of wood filler dried out so I switched to a squeeze bottle that – bonus – also came in white. It started to clog the squirt end, so I had to cut off the top and dig it out. I suppose the key here is to purchase smaller size bottles so it is less likely to dry out.
Here’s where we are at with the baseboards secured to the wall, but everything still in rough shape. After this point, we sanded the filled screw holes and knew we needed to prime… again. The gap in the corner in the foreground here is due to a combination of things: the walls did not form perfect 45 degree angles and our saw was also not cutting perfectly. After three rooms of very hard solid walnut flooring, a piece of wood exploded – when being cut – and pushed the fence out of whack. Spencer was fine, but the saw was no longer perfect.
In a perfectly level house we would have not used base moulding… but floor was not level. We made sure the top edge of the baseboard was level around each room and needed to hide the sometimes inconsistently very wide gap at the bottom edge. Instead of “quarter round”, we wanted to be a little different and bought pvc “cove moulding”. It’s usually used under stair treds/risers.
Also in the dining room, the previous owners had refinished the oak floor, but hadn’t removed the baseboard/moulding when they did this – so now we have to add moulding back to hide the difference.
Here, the screw holes have been filled and sanded, the cove moulding is just sitting there. This is a before the final coat of paint or any caulking:
We did not use nails on the pvc cove moulding, we “glued” it on with caulk. We made sure it was snug with masking tape wile it dried. We chose pvc rather than wood, because we wanted the flex – due to our weird floors. We bought nicer caulk to seal the visible edges and cheap caulk to attach the pvc cove moulding to the baseboard.
Caulking the corners:
Here, the baseboards have a final coat of paint, the cove moulding has been secured, and the corners have been caulked:
Because the walls were not perfect, in some places (like here in the kitchen) we had a pretty big gap between the baseboard and the wall. I first glopped globs of caulk in there and let it dry so the real finished bead of caulk had something to grab onto. I think I even had to go over this area a third time because of a few air bubbles formed when I was smoothing out the caulk.
A finished line of caulk after the tape is removed:
Overall, this is a pretty tedious process – not difficult but tedious. The whole first floor took many hours spread out over days/weeks (for dry time). I’d recommend a slightly nicer caulk gun – the cheap one hurt my hand after a while. Overall I’m pretty happy with how well the caulk hides the gaps between the baseboard and wall!