Baseboard installation doesn’t have to be a daunting task for the novice carpenter. While it would be nice if all walls were perfectly smooth and the corner square, such is hardly the case even with the best built houses. There are taping compounds that create hills of mounds, wavy walls, out of square corners, all of which cause gaps that can surely make you look like a novice if you don’t deal with them correctly.
Installing baseboards isn’t just a matter of hammering and cutting. Professional carpenters have their hats full of tricks to deal with imperfect walls, corners, and floors. Here are some pointers to make your baseboard project easier.
1. The Right Tools for the Job
If you’re the type that has a cardboard box full of cheap tools, you’re going to buy or borrow some quality power tools. The most important and expensive tool you’ll need to get your hands on is a miter saw with a minimum of a 10-inch blade. You get what you pay for so if you go cheap, you may not be able to finish your project because the saw will die before you finish. You don’t have to buy the most expensive model either.
You will also want to pick up a set of wood chisels, a coping saw, a wood file, a razor knife, caulk and caulking gun and construction adhesive along with your other basic tools and materials. The caulk and adhesive will be for your problems gaps that just may arise.
2. Miter Baseboard Properly When Required
Butting two trim lengths together doesn’t look well upon inspection and doing so will make you look incapable and even lazy. Learn to properly cope, in carpentry terms. Important places that will need a proper miter will be inside and outside corners where two intersecting walls join and the joint where your baseboard ends on the stretch of a long wall.
3. Dealing with Gaps
No wall is perfect, as said before. When you first hold your trim to the wall you just may find that there will be gaps unless you hammer nails every inch, which isn’t realistic. This is where your construction adhesive or caulk will come in handy. After you applied your trim, go to the gaps. Cut out a few braces from the scrap about 4 to 6 inches in length with 45 degree edges. You will use them to prop against the trim to push the gaps closed, tacking them into place. Use the adhesive to keep those gaps closed.
If your trim is of the thicker sort, like ¾ inch, caulk can be used for the gaps because the braces won’t be effective against the thicker trim. You’ll want some good quality acrylic latex caulk. Be sure that the caulk can be painted upon. It will say it on the label. You’ll want a small hole in the spout for a neater job. You don’t want gobs coming out at a time.
Run the caulk along the gap, forcing into the inside and let it fill a bit higher than the trim top. With a damp rag, wipe off the excess as soon as you run the caulk before it starts to dry. You won’t even notice the gap once it’s painted over.