Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Baseboard installation can be done either before or after the carpet has been installed. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The one advantage of installing baseboards first is that it avoids spilling any glue or paint on the carpet. However, if you already have carpeting installed and are removing an existing baseboard, this can usually be done without a problem.
You do not need to remove the carpet in order to replace and install a new baseboard. The process of installation is effectively the same when installing over an existing carpet. You may just want to take a few extra steps to protect the carpeting.
If you are concerned about damaging the carpet below, you can use a carpet protection film over the carpet just under the baseboard. Additionally, if the baseboards are not pre-painted, it usually makes sense to paint them in advance before installation in order to avoid staining the carpet below.
In this article, I’ll give detailed information on the simple steps involved in removing and replacing your baseboards without removing your carpet. Let’s get started.
Replacing and Installing Your Baseboards
Fortunately, you can achieve a more professional look and avoid additional trim and wall repairs with a slow and gentle approach.
Here’s how to replace your baseboards without removing your carpet:
- Gather all necessary tools and supplies.
- Measure the perimeter of your room.
- Cut your inside and outside corners.
- Cope your inside corners.
- Sand and prime your baseboards.
- Nail the baseboards in place.
- Apply caulking.
- Apply your finish coat.
These tips will help you get first-class results without having to undergo hours of frustrating effort!
1. Gather All Necessary Tools and Supplies
Now let’s look at how you can install a new baseboard without removing your carpet.
First, you’ll need these tools:
- Nail gun
- Nail set
- Finishing nails
- Paint and brush
- Baseboard putty stick
- Countersink tool
- Tape measure
- Carpenter’s glue
- Cap molding
1. Measure the Perimeter of Your Room
Start by measuring the dimensions of each side of the wall at least twice to help you get the most accurate measurements possible. You can record these measurements in a little roadmap of the room.
Note whether the corners are outside or inside corners.
2. Cut Your Inside and Outside Corners
Cutting miter joints is always crucial where two pieces of the trim meet. A power miter saw is a perfect tool for this process because of its efficiency and ease of use.
First, you’ll need to set it to a 45-degree angle.
- For an inside corner, cut one end of the molding to a 45-degree inside angle to form one half of the corner. Make sure you cut the molding end from the inside to achieve this. The angled cross-section after cutting the piece should be facing outward.
- For an outside corner, position your miter saw so that it cuts the end of the molding from the outside. Here, the angled cross-section after the cut should be hidden. I recommend cutting these boards a few inches longer than your wall for the miter cuts.
Ensure you cut nice and slow, or you might end up with a crooked line on the front.
You can check out this YouTube video to learn more on how to make perfect miter cuts:
3. Cope Your Inside Corners
The process of coping with your inside corners is relatively simple. Start by making a 45-degree inside cut on your baseboard. Remember, you won’t need to cut the other end of the baseboard as the coped joint will ideally cover up the remaining piece.
Use a coping saw to make the 45-degree cut and make sure you follow the profile accurately so that the paint line remains intact. Set it up to cut on the downstroke rather than the upstroke. Remember to cut the edge of the wedge of the baseboard. This will help you get an excellent tight fit when you push the board to the corner.
For extra precision and efficiency, I recommend the IRWIN Tools ProTouch Coping Saw on Amazon.com. This tool is perfect for various woodworking projects as it allows you to make intricate patterns and elaborate cuts in woods.
Finally, sand away any rough patches to help smooth out the coped seam.
4. Sand and Prime Your Baseboards
Once you’re done cutting your baseboard angles, consider sanding and priming them.
If you’re using primed materials, sanding them before installation will save you quite a lot of time. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen bare wood materials, you may want to paint them with a Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Primer, then give them time to dry before sanding them.
5. Nail The Baseboards in Place
Locate wall studs and then sink two 2-inch (5.08 cm) nails into every stud using a nail gun with a downward angle.
A nail set can also help you drive the heads of the nail inside the board.
Rather than using the manual way of locating wall studs (knocking on the wall to differentiate the studs from the hollow sections), you can invest in a CRAFTSMAN Stud Finder (available on Amazon) at a relatively affordable price.
Use putty to fill the nail holes, allow them to dry, and then sand them. It’s always wise to glue the gaps around the mitered edges on the outside corners as they’re pretty hard to nail. Plus, adding nails or biscuits may only cause the narrow molding to split.
6. Apply Caulking
Apply a premium acrylic latex caulking to the top edges, corner edges, and nail holes.
Use a damp rag to wipe the excess caulk. You can also use a putty stick that resembles the molding’s color to fill the nail holes.
For a more traditional look, consider adding cap molding to the top of your baseboards. Place them across the upper edge of your board and then nail or glue them in place. Miter outside joints and cope inside joints while gluing them as needed to secure.
7. Apply Your Finish Coat
Finally, finish your project by applying gloss or semi-gloss paint on the baseboards. This type of paint is easier to clean and more resistant to picking up dirt. However, you won’t need to worry about this step if your boards are already painted.
You can consider applying varnish instead.
Note: Leave the caulk to dry completely before applying your finish coat. This might take about 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the type of caulk you bought. Also, remember to add painter’s tape to the wall and the floor to avoid getting paint on your carpet and the drywall.
As you can see, removing and replacing baseboards isn’t as hard as you might have thought. Hopefully, this step-by-step guide will help you feel confident and excited to tackle your forthcoming project on your own.