In architecture, a baseboard (also called skirting board, skirting, mopboard, floor molding, as well as base molding) is a (generally wooden) board covering the lowest part of an interior wall. Its purpose is to cover the joint between the wall surface and the floor.
It covers the uneven edge of flooring next to the wall; protects the wall from kicks, abrasion, and furniture; and can serve as a decorative molding.
So, what are baseboards exactly? Let’s dive a little deeper.
In this post we'll cover:
- Baseboards: More Than Just a Wall Accent
- Exploring the Wide Range of Baseboard Styles
- Baseboard Options: Adding Extra Style and Functionality
- Baseboard Materials: Which One is Right for You?
- Choosing the Right Thickness for Your Baseboards
- Should Your Baseboards Match Your Other Molding?
- Choosing the Perfect Color for Your Baseboards
Baseboards: More Than Just a Wall Accent
Baseboards serve a functional purpose in interior design. They protect the walls from scuffs, scratches, and bumps caused by pets, kicks, and foot traffic. They also provide a layer of protection against spills and moisture, stopping them from seeping into the flooring and causing damage. Baseboards are installed partly for hiding gaps between the wall and the floor, and partly for providing an aesthetic trim to the area where the two meet.
Types of Baseboards
Baseboards come in various materials, including wooden and vinyl boards. Wooden baseboards are a classic choice that adds warmth and character to a room, while vinyl baseboards are more functional and easier to clean. Both types can be installed as skirting boards or as a separate layer of trim.
Installation and Maintenance
Baseboards should be installed by a professional to ensure a proper fit and finish. Once installed, they require minimal maintenance, but regular cleaning is necessary to keep them looking their best. Use a cleaner that is safe for the type of baseboard material you have chosen.
Exploring the Wide Range of Baseboard Styles
Flat baseboards are the simplest option and are typically composed of a single piece of wood. Stepped baseboards, on the other hand, have a small lip or step at the top that adds a bit of texture and depth. They are an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a simple yet elegant style.
Decorative and Ornate Baseboards
If you’re looking to spice up your home decor, decorative and ornate baseboards are an ideal option. These baseboards come in a variety of profiles, grooves, and textures, and can be sculpted to suit any mood or style. They are perfect for homeowners who want to add a touch of personality to their trim.
Rounded and Scalloped Baseboards
Rounded and scalloped baseboards are extremely versatile and come in a range of shapes and sizes. They are an excellent option for homeowners who want to add a bit of character to their baseboards without going overboard. These baseboards are also accommodating to a variety of materials, including pine, maple, and other types of wood.
Tapered and Textured Baseboards
Tapered baseboards are an excellent option for homeowners who want a consistent look throughout their home. These baseboards are typically shorter in the center and taper towards the ground, making them an ideal choice for building on uneven ground. Textured baseboards, on the other hand, come in a variety of finishes and offer homeowners a range of options to choose from.
Choosing the Right Baseboard Material
When it comes to choosing the right baseboard material, there are several factors to consider. Some materials, like pine, are easy to cut and install, while others, like maple, offer a more consistent and high-quality finish. It’s important to check the costs and benefits of each material before making a decision.
Painting and Staining Your Baseboards
Once you’ve chosen the perfect baseboard, it’s important to thoroughly prime and paint or stain it to ensure a long-lasting finish. Many baseboards come pre-primed and ready to paint, while others require a bit of prep work before they’re ready for the finishing touches. Regardless of the type of baseboard you choose, it’s worth investing in a quality paint or stain to ensure a professional-looking finish.
Baseboard Options: Adding Extra Style and Functionality
If you’re looking for a little something extra to make your baseboards stand out, there are a few options to consider. Here are some custom baseboard options to help you create the perfect look for your home:
- Rounded edges: Rounded edges are a popular choice for a modern and clean look. They’re also a great choice if you have small children in the home, as they provide a little extra safety.
- Additional pieces: Depending on the style you’re going for, adding extra pieces to your baseboards can create a more traditional or linear look. This is a great option if you want to create a more custom look without having to pay for expensive materials.
- Special profiles: Some baseboards are designed with special profiles that can add a little extra style to your space. These profiles can range from thin and straight to more rounded and slightly curved.
In addition to custom baseboard options, there are also a few add-ons you can consider to make your baseboards even more versatile and functional:
- Electric baseboard heaters: If you’re looking for an energy-efficient way to heat your home, electric baseboard heaters are a great choice. They’re typically installed at the base of the wall and can be controlled by a thermostat.
- Baseboard covers: If you have old or outdated baseboards, adding a cover can be a great way to give them new life. Baseboard covers come in a range of styles and materials and can be applied right over your existing baseboards.
- Baseboard vents: If you have a central heating and cooling system, adding baseboard vents can help improve airflow and keep your home comfortable year-round.
Installing Baseboards: What to Remember
If you’re a novice DIYer, installing baseboards can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the process a little easier:
- Measure twice, cut once: Before you start cutting your baseboards, make sure you measure the length of each wall and mark where you need to cut. This will help ensure that your baseboards fit perfectly.
- Use the right tools: Depending on the materials you’re working with, you may need special tools to cut and install your baseboards. Make sure you have everything you need before you start.
- Pay attention to the details: When installing baseboards, it’s important to pay attention to the details. Make sure your baseboards are straight and level, and that any joints are clean and seamless.
Whether you’re looking to add a little extra style to your home or simply want to improve its functionality, baseboard options and add-ons can help you achieve your goals. Just remember to take your time, measure carefully, and use the right tools for the job.
Baseboard Materials: Which One is Right for You?
Installing baseboards can be a DIY project, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before you start:
- You can save money on installation costs.
- You have more control over the finished product.
- It can be a fun and rewarding project.
- It can be time-consuming and difficult.
- You may not have the necessary tools or skills.
- If not done correctly, it can look unprofessional.
Finishing Your Baseboards: Paint or Stain?
Once your baseboards are installed, you’ll need to decide whether to paint or stain them. Here are some things to consider:
- Paint: Painting your baseboards is a popular choice because it’s easy and affordable. It also allows you to add a pop of color to your room.
- Stain: Staining your baseboards is a more traditional choice. It allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through and can give your room a more classic look.
Is it Worth Considering?
Choosing the right baseboard material is an important part of planning and building your home. While it may seem like a small detail, it can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your space. Consider the pros and cons of each material and choose the one that’s right for you.
Choosing the Right Thickness for Your Baseboards
When it comes to baseboard thickness, forethought is key. Gauge the size of your baseboards by considering the relationship between the crown, casing, and baseboard. Typically, baseboards are taller than casing is wide and about as tall as the crown. The taller the crown, the taller the baseboard should be to maintain visual balance. Keep in mind that the size and style of your room will also play a role in determining the appropriate thickness for your baseboards.
Explore Your Options
Baseboards come in varying thicknesses, ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick. Some stores even offer baseboard strips that can be stacked to create a thicker baseboard. It’s important to explore your options and choose a thickness that complements the other trim and molding in your room.
Matching or Contrasting
When it comes to painting your baseboards, you have the option to match or contrast with the color of your door and window trim. Matching creates a cohesive look while contrasting highlights the distinct lines and profiles of your baseboards. If you’re feeling bold, try pairing a contrasting baseboard color with a refreshing wallpaper or farmhouse-style outdoor window.
Get Creative with Colors
Don’t be afraid to get creative with colors when it comes to your baseboards. While white is a standby option, there are many unexpected colors, tints, and shades that can add distinction and character to your room. Gray is a striking option that works well with contrasting bold lines. Simplistic baseboards can be paired with a contrasting color to create a refreshing look.
Consider Hardware and Scuffs
When choosing the thickness of your baseboards, consider the hardware in your room. A thicker baseboard may interfere with the placement of outlets and light switches. Additionally, thicker baseboards may be more prone to scuffs and damage. Keep this in mind when selecting a thickness that works for your space.
Should Your Baseboards Match Your Other Molding?
When it comes to designing a room, every detail counts. The baseboards and other molding in a room can tie the design together, creating a cohesive look. So, should your baseboards match your other molding? The answer is not a simple yes or no. It depends on the overall style and design of the room.
Consider the Materials and Size
When choosing baseboards, it’s important to consider the materials and size of the other molding in the room. If you have heavy crown molding, you may want to opt for a simpler baseboard design. If you have a lot of trim and detail in the room, a simple baseboard may not work.
Choosing the Right Color
The color of your baseboards is also an important factor to consider. While white is a popular choice, it may not work in every room. If you have dark walls, a white baseboard may not be the best choice. Similarly, if you have light floors, a dark baseboard may not work.
Matching Baseboards with Floors and Walls
When choosing the color of your baseboards, it’s important to consider the color of your floors and walls. You want your baseboards to tie the room together, not stand out as a separate piece. If you have white walls and light floors, a white baseboard may be the perfect choice. If you have dark floors and walls, a darker baseboard may work better.
Adding Shoe and Quarter Round
Adding shoe or quarter round to your baseboards can create a finished look and tie the baseboards to the floors. When choosing shoe or quarter round, it’s important to follow the same method as choosing your baseboards.
The Overall Importance of Matching Baseboards
While it’s important to consider matching your baseboards with other molding in the room, it’s not always necessary. Some people prefer to have different types of molding throughout the room, creating a unique look. The most important thing is to choose what works best for your space and overall design.
Choosing the Perfect Color for Your Baseboards
When it comes to baseboards, the color you choose can make a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your space. The correct color can help create the desired design style and tone, while the wrong color can throw off the entire aesthetic. That’s why it’s super helpful to take the time to decide on the perfect color for your baseboards.
Popular Baseboard Colors to Consider
Here are some popular baseboard colors to refer to when choosing the best one for your space:
- Traditional white: This neutral color is a classic choice that works well with any wall color or interior style. It’s also affordable and easy to find in any size or type of baseboard material.
- Lighter shades: If you want to create a clean and crisp look, consider a lighter shade of your wall color or a shade lighter than your wall color. This will help make your walls appear brighter and more spacious.
- Darker shades: For a warmer and more dramatic look, consider a darker shade of your wall color or a shade darker than your wall color. This will help create a cozy and intimate atmosphere.
- Medium wood tones: If you have hardwood floors or furniture, consider a medium wood tone for your baseboards. This will help tie the room together and create a cohesive look.
How to Test Baseboard Colors
Before making a final decision on your baseboard color, it’s helpful to test out a few options to see how they look in your space. Here’s a quick and easy way to do it:
- Grab some paint swatches or samples of the colors you’re considering.
- Hold them up against your walls and compare them to your existing trim and furniture.
- Make sure to test the colors in different lighting conditions, as they may appear different depending on the time of day.
- Once you’ve narrowed down your options, head to your local home improvement store and pick up some samples of the baseboard materials and finishes you’re considering.
- Apply the samples to your walls and let them dry for a few days to see how they look in the space.
- Make sure to choose a finish that matches your existing trim, whether it’s glossy, semi-glossy, or matte.
By taking the time to test out different baseboard colors and materials, you can ensure that you make the right choice for your space and create the perfect finishing touch to your design.
So, baseboards are used to protect the walls from scuffs and scratches and to provide a layer of protection from moisture and spills. They can be made of wood, vinyl, or even plastic, and they come in a variety of styles to suit every taste. So, don’t be afraid to give them a try! You might just find a new favorite decoration for your home!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.