Wood baseboard, also known as skirting board, has been around for many decades, but has a new competitor in vinyl. Wood has always been the most common material, mainly because it is traditional, but also because it is inexpensive and easy to work with.
There are some other choices such as rubber and composites but wood and vinyl remain the two most used baseboard materials. Here's what to know about each option.
A baseboard is a strip of wood or vinyl that is attached to the bottom of a wall. Baseboards have three main uses. They provide a nice transition between the floor and the wall, and they protect the bottom of the wall from scuffing and shoe damage. They also cover gaps between flooring materials and the wall base. Baseboards add class to a home and can be matched with picture rails and ceiling moldings.
Pros and Cons of Wood Baseboards
Wood baseboards come in various lengths and are installed with nails or screws.
They have a traditional look and feel that works better in older homes than vinyl. It also tends to complement wooden furniture, windows, and picture frames. There are many types of wood available so it can match frames and furniture without the need for painting, which saves some work.
Unfortunately, it is prone to damage from pets and it also absorbs color which can result in permanent staining.
Instillation is cheap and easy, but mitering the corners can take some practice. All you need to do is screw it to the wall, something anyone with a few tools can accomplish. One of the best features is that it is easy to either stain or replace if you are replacing the floor coverings.
Pros and Cons of Vinyl Baseboards
Vinyl baseboard comes in rolls and is applied with base adhesive with a putty knife.
Vinyl baseboard is easier to install in non-standard shaped rooms, such as arcs, as it is flexible. It also can be easily fitted over crooked and slightly askew walls where stiff wood shows up the gaps between the wall and boards.
These baseboards are non-porous so they will not stain easily. They come in rolls and are easy to cut to length with a utility knife.
Vinyl baseboard comes in many colors to match existing decor, but can also be made in custom colors if you have a large area to cover. As it is unpainted, there is no flaking when hit hard or scraped.
The downsides are that it tends to attract mildew in damp situations, and it is made of PVC which is shown to be an environmental hazard. The other problem is that it can be easily dented from being kicked. As vinyl baseboards are glued on with adhesive, they can be hard to remove for renovations or to replace with new baseboards. It has a long lifespan, which means little maintenance. You will not need to remove it except for renovations.
Both types of baseboards are easy to clean with some warm water and vinegar but the vinyl board may have to be cleaned occasionally with mildew killer if it has a problem of attracting mildew or mold.