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DIY home improvement is usually straightforward and you risk minimal damage to your home when you do the research – this rings true for placing baseboards and carpet in your home. The real factor you need to consider is whether the baseboard or the carpet should be placed first.
Carpet should go underneath baseboards for the simplest and most DIY-friendly method of placement. By placing carpet first, you run less of a risk of damaging your walls, and floors, and you are less likely to slip up where fine measurements are required.
In this article, I’ll discuss whether or not carpets should go underneath baseboards and the preferred method of placement. I’ll also explain the various types of carpeting that work best underneath baseboards and other considerations for this project.
Advantages of Placing the Carpet First
The choice is yours whether or not you want to place carpet or baseboard first, but the easiest option, which is also least likely to cause damage, is to install the carpet first.
There are several reasons for this:
- Placing carpet first will avoid potential mismeasurement. If the baseboard is placed first, it needs to be placed a certain distance above the floor so the carpet fits beneath it. If this distance is mismeasured, you’ll end up with a baseboard hovering awkwardly above the carpet, opening up the wall to damage, defeating the point of a baseboard in the first place.
- Placing carpet flush against the wall is easier. The carpet needs to be cut and placed flush against the baseboard or wall, which also takes a fair amount of accurate planning and measurement. If this is done incorrectly, you will have to start over.
- Placing carpet first reduces the risk of causing damage to the baseboard in the process. If the baseboard is installed first, there is a risk of damage during the carpet installation because tack strips also need to be installed. Tack strips are made for installing carpeting using very small nails that point upwards, which help hold the stretched-out carpet (not too different from a canvas around a frame).
- Placing a carpet first allows for accuracy without worrying about limited space. Installing a baseboard first makes the work area smaller and more crowded, which is a disadvantage when doing precise work–such as installing tack strips–in a small space.
If you’re reading this and panicking because you’ve already placed the baseboard, don’t despair. Removing the baseboard if you have installed this first is unnecessary, as long as you have left sufficient space beneath the baseboard to fit the carpet snugly. If you can work comfortably in the space you have left, there is nothing to worry about.
Advantages of Placing the Baseboard First
While placing the carpet first seems easier, there is an advantage to the alternative method too; the alternative approach is to put the baseboard first and fit the carpet later.
Placing baseboard first is an advantage because it’s easier to paint or stain baseboard before placing a carpet. That way, you don’t run the risk of ruining the carpet or hardwood.
There aren’t many advantages to placing a baseboard before a carpet. Again, if you want to put a baseboard first, or have already placed a baseboard, there’s no need to worry.
How High off the Ground Do Baseboards Need To Be?
Baseboards need to be an inch high off the ground when placed first in order to accommodate for carpet placement. The exact height may vary depending on the type of carpet you have. To check your measurements as you lay the carpet, simply cut a matching length of drywall to use as a level.
It’s vital that the space you mark out for a carpet beneath baseboards is the same along the length of a room and the height off the ground be an inch all around. If not, you may encounter issues with the baseboard leaving too little or too much space.
What Carpet Works Best Underneath Baseboards?
Nylon carpet works best underneath baseboards due to its durability and wear resistance. It’s also the most common choice for these reasons. Still, there’s really no limit to the types of carpeting you can fit underneath baseboards, and other common choices include olefin, acrylic, wool, and plush.
If you do install baseboards before carpeting, you’ll need to consider the kind of carpet you want to install to ensure you’ve left enough space below the boards to place the carpet.
For example, plush and wool carpets require more space than nylon because they’re thicker and more geared towards comfort and padding.
Why Are Baseboards Necessary?
Baseboards are necessary to protect walls and floors against physical damage. Some are ornate and decorative, and they can also be used to hide the joining of the wall and floor and imperfections like crooked walls, and prevent wall and floor damage from expanding and contracting.
Baseboards run along the bottom of your wall to protect it from scuffing and other damage that could come from vacuuming or regular foot traffic in a home. It also helps safeguard against vacuums, scuff marks, dirt and debris, water damage, and any general spillage or impairment that might occur.
As stated above, a baseboard is also a decorative feature. It should ideally match the trimmings between the wall and ceiling. The baseboard also needs to be sturdy, so solid wood or a similarly robust material is a good option.
The result of placing a carpet first or a baseboard first is the same, but the actual distinction lies in the ease and simplicity of the installation process. After reviewing the pros and cons of both methods, it’s clear that the simplest and quickest way through this project is to place the carpet first. It’s less messy, has less risk of damage, easier to measure the dimensions needed for baseboard fitting, and there is less chance you’ll need to remove a baseboard and potentially damage it.
- Remodelista: Remodeling 101: Consider the Baseboard (and, What You Need to Know)
- Home Decor: Should Carpet Go Under Baseboard?
- InteriorsPlace: Do Baseboards Go on Before or After the Carpet?
- SFGate: How Far Up Do You Put a Baseboard Before Carpet Is Laid?
- Uooz.com: Should Carpet Or Baseboards Be Installed First?
- Bend Tool: Are Baseboards Necessary?
- Stack Exchange: What height to set baseboards before carpet is installed?
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.