Beefing up the baseboards

I’m kind of infamous around here for starting one project and then snowballing it into a massive project that will take me weeks to finish. Yeah. So when we had the new floors installed in the master a couple weeks ago I started another snowball.

I wanted to install new baseboards in there but didn’t have enough time to take out the old ones before they started. So after the floors were laid it was going to be impossible to get the old out. (The floors are higher than the carpet so the bottom of the base was way down under the flooring.) Hope that makes sense – basically I couldn’t have done it without damaging the floors.

SO I started thinking about how I could beef up the baseboards another way. Eventually I’d love to change out all of our wimpy base with thicker stuff. I just love the look. I realized I had two options – either extend them somehow with additional trim (you add a line of a thin molding above and then paint between them to give the illusion of thicker base) or put something over it.

Because I’m doing a wall treatment on one wall and I want the wood on that wall to be flush with the baseboards, I decided to go with the latter. I’ve been using this mdf stuff as the base in all the rooms I’ve redone lately: mdf baseboards

It comes primed and it’s got a slight curved edge that I love.

You can see it here the powder room:

white planked walls

Since it’s mdf you have to decide if you want to use it in a space that could get water since it can swell if it gets wet. But once it’s painted it holds up well. The toilet in that bathroom overflowed the other day and the base is fine. :)

I also used it in the mud room:

beadboard walls

I used to always use quarter round with my base but I’m finding I like the simpler look without it.

I came up with a plan to redo the base in the bedroom without tearing it all out, but first I had to deal with the door trim. That’s another thing I’m slowly changing out in our house – I love the thicker craftsman trim and just do it as I work on a space.

So far I’ve decided to redo the base and now the door trim. Are you keeping up? And it started with new flooring. :)

Because I was keeping the old base and working around it I had to cut it down to make room for the new thicker door trim:

removing door trim

The only way I know how to do this is with a cutting tool and thankfully I have a Dremel Multi Max made just for this kind of job:

Cuttting down baseboards

It took FOREVER to do each one though. I had to be super careful with the floors so I’d cut horizontally then vertically, over and over again. I used my crow bar to pry it off, but it always came off in pieces:

cutting baseboards around door

This was mostly due to the fact that the Dremel kept dying when I would turn up the power. The battery was fully charged but the thing kept pooping out. Anyone else deal with this? Maybe it’s because the batteries are a few years old? It made for a long process, but eventually between that and a hammer and the crow bar I finally got them off.

After those were cut down I was able to address the base. This was my dilemma – if I placed the new stuff over the old there was a big gap at the top:

making baseboards taller

Obviously because the original base was about half an inch thick – so I needed to find something thin that was only half an inch thick to fit behind it.

I walked the trim aisle looking for anything that was skinny and that size and finally realized the cheapest stuff they had was going to work perfectly – quarter round! It’s the small stuff that’s usually installed at the base of baseboards.

I got some and brought it home to try it and it worked perfectly. I just would hold it up behind the new stuff, then make sure they were flush and then used long nails in my nail gun to install it (securing each one into a stud):

 making baseboards taller making baseboards taller

You see what I did there? The quarter round was just the same thickness as the original base that’s still installed behind the taller stuff. So it made up the difference and made the new baseboards flush. Oh, and I turned the quarter round upside down so the flat side is on the top.

Here’s the difference in the heights of the old and the new:

short and tall baseboards

See why I wanted to beef them up?

Ignore the two different paint colors. I swear I’m dealing with that soon. :)

There is a line along the top where the two meet but you really don’t notice it. After they get paint you’ll notice it even less. Here’s a finished wall from the side:

tall baseboards

And from the top:

beefy baseboards

I still need to paint and caulk but here’s an idea of how it looks all done:

thick baseboards

I cut in there so with the new paint color and caulk it will be nice and clean, but you get the idea. The new door trim needs two more coats but I’ll show you all of that when I’m done.

Now that the floors are done I need to hem the drapes a little more (see? the list goes on and on) but here’s another shot of the new base installed, before any of the finishing touches:

installed new baseboards over old ones

SO much better. I love the look and I love that I was able to figure out a way to make it happen!

As far as supplies go, I would have needed to purchase the quarter round anyway if I had kept the original base. So the cost was in the new mdf stuff for the room. I’m pretty sure they are around $8 for an eight foot piece.

I LOVE the look of the thicker trim – it’s just so much more substantial. This is a big room so it fits it much better. Have you tried any tricks to beef up your baseboards? Or are you lucky enough to already have the thicker trim?