How to Choose Baseboards

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Baseboards dress up a room.

Replacing or adding baseboard trim to interior walls is a simple, cost-effective way of dressing up and adding value to a home. Before purchasing, first consider the style, material and finish that will look best; then compare the cost with your budget. Good up-front decisions will save you from making costly decorating mistakes.

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Step 1

Determine whether you need to match existing baseboard trim or replace all of it. This decision affects the style you choose, the finish, and your budget.

Step 2

Consider the needs of the room. Vinyl cove baseboard, for example, may be an appropriate choice for a bathroom or kitchen, but not for a living room.

Step 3

Identify the material of any existing baseboard trim that must be matched. Take a piece of the existing baseboard to a home improvement center for identification if you're uncertain. Most baseboard is made from hardwood or medium-density grade fiberboard (MDF), which is usually painted because it can't be stained and doesn't have grain.

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Step 4

Decide how tall the baseboard should be, if you're replacing the existing baseboard, by considering ceiling height and width of door trim. Select baseboard that is tall enough to "be a noticeable accent without overpowering," according to the website One Project Closer. One rule of thumb is to use baseboard that is 5-1/4 inches tall for a room that is 8 feet tall. Use taller baseboard in taller rooms.

Step 5

Select the style you like. Decide whether it should have a modern, sleek-looking profile or a more elaborate, historic design. Visit home improvement centers, lumber yards, and websites such as InvitingHome.com to view different types and compare prices. For a more elaborate baseboard, visit a local mill shop that specializes in custom and standard baseboard in a wide variety of wood species and styles.

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Step 6

Review your project budget. To save money, choose a standard in-stock style in a material suitable for painting. Consider budget-priced hardwood if stained baseboard is desired. The website I Can Fix Up My Home recommends poplar.

Step 7

Remember that putty and paint can hide a variety of problems, but stain can't. Select a painted finish for pine or MDF baseboard. For staining, select a natural hardwood with a clear, attractive grain.

Step 8

Measure the linear feet of needed baseboard. Minimize the joining by purchasing longer pieces, One Project Closer advises. However, the decision to buy longer trim requires allowing for waste.

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Step 9

Visit lumber yards and home improvement centers for a wide choice of products. For a more elaborate baseboard, purchase from a local mill shop that specializes in custom and standard baseboards in a variety of styles and wood species.

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Alicia Rudnicki

Alicia Rudnicki's Library Mix website blends book buzz for all ages. A gardener, she writes for California's Flowers by the Sea nursery. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from UC Berkeley, a Master of Arts in education from CU Denver, and has taught K-12.