Install New Baseboards for a Fresh Look

By James Dulley

October 10, 2019 4 min read

Dear James: I am redecorating my living room, and I think new decorative baseboards would help. My neighbor tried installing them himself, and it looked pretty bad. Do you have any tips for installing baseboards? — Dennis E.

Dear Dennis: Baseboards are generally not the first place someone looks when they enter a home, but they can impact the overall decor of your living room. As you have noticed, when the baseboards are not installed properly and have that do-it-yourself look, it detracts from the entire room.

Select a baseboard style that complements the room decor. When you visit your home center store, you may be surprised at the large array of styles and sizes. Pick whichever one you like because the installation method will be identical for all of them. The prices will vary significantly.

The keys to a professional-looking baseboard installation are measuring properly and cutting the pieces properly. If you do this correctly, the actual nailing of the pieces to the wall will be a breeze, and you will be pleased with the results.

The first step is to make a measuring block. This is a short piece of baseboard cut to a precise size (6-inch length is ideal and easy to handle). The purpose of a measuring block is to allow you to measure accurately to an inside corner. Without one, you will have to bend the measuring tape at the corner and try to read the exact length at the center of the bend.

When measuring to an inside corner, first place the measuring block into the corner and draw a line along its edge on the wall. This makes it easier and more accurate to measure to the line and then add 6 inches to it.

When you are measuring to an outside corner, it can be difficult to get a precise measurement over the round drywall corner bead. Place the measuring block on the other side of the corner so it extends out past the corner, and measure to the edge of the block.

Keep in mind corners are not always square as they should be. Use a protractor to measure the angle of the corner. When you miter the ends of the two mating pieces of baseboard, you will have to split the actual angle degrees so both ends meet perfectly.

Make a cutlist before starting the saw. This is a list of every piece of baseboard to do the entire living room. For each piece, it should list the length of the piece and the type of cut on each end — butt joint, outside corner or inside corner.

For pieces longer than about 6 feet, add 1/16 inch to the length so they snap into place. When cutting very short pieces, make them slightly shorter than the measurement so they slide in easily. This is because there is little flex in short pieces of baseboard.

Use a good-quality miter saw with a new sharp blade. A hardware salesperson can recommend the proper blade for the type of wood you selected. It is important to support long pieces of the baseboard on each side of the saw so the pieces stay flat. If they are bowed, the cut ends will not be square. Sometimes it helps to add a longer straight fence to the miter saw to support the baseboard and simplify making measurements.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: ErikaWittlieb at Pixabay

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