Upgrading your base molding can have a big impact
Base molding is the finishing touch on the walls. Base molding (sometimes called baseboard) is both practical and decorative. The functional purpose is to create smooth edges with the floors and walls as well as to camouflage the hardwood underneath as it expands and contracts throughout the seasons.
Most houses have base molding – some is very basic, such as a clam shell molding, others are a bit more finished with a colonial base molding, and some houses have upgraded and higher base molding.
When you are adding hardwood floors, or if you are refinishing your hardwood floors and/or painting, it’s the perfect opportunity to upgrade your base molding, if you have one of the “basics” or if they have been painted so many times that they look gloppy.
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While I’ve always known that base molding can make a big difference, I recently got to experience the impact in a house I’m very familiar with – my parents’ house – the house I grew up in. We recently sanded and refinished (as well as repaired the floors) and what a difference it made. The floors are from 1955 and now they look good as new. But, we didn’t stop there.
My mom asked me how I could fix the “crack” in her floor by the front planter (this is a half wall leading into the dining room that had been remodeled 30+ years ago. Here’s what my mom really meant, “How do we fix the gap between the wall and floor – or said another way, how do we fix the gap between the base molding and the wood floor?”
My solution was simple…and it solved another issue at the same time. My solution was to replace the base molding with higher grade and wider base molding. Not only would this solve the gap in the floor, but it would make her floors and walls look much nicer. My mom lives in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. And the cheap and flat base molding was flimsy and didn’t suit the style of the house. So, in her case, we replaced the flimsy moldings with taller and higher grade base molding. In these pictures you can see the difference. The before picture is the original base molding (shown next to a blue wool carpet). The after picture shows the new and improved base molding for the first floor. (Please note that these moldings still need to be caulked and painted). This was not terribly expensive, and in my opinion it made a big difference.
Before – basic base molding After – upgraded base molding
I really should have shown the impact of these next to a tape measure or other relevant benchmark. The one on the left is about 2 inches high. The one on the right is 5 1/4″ inches high. The height and the contours improve the style and impact in the room.
Now in many older homes, I see another issue – there seems to be a big gap between the baseboards and the floor in the whole area as the either the house has settled or because the base molding was installed higher to accomodate carpeting. There is a simple way to solve this by adding either quarter round or shoe molding. This will hide the gap and give your walls a more finished look. Quarter round (as the name implies) is a quarter of circle from a profile standpoint. The corner abuts the wall and it is is typically 3/4″ high and 3/4″ wide with a rounded arc. Shoe molding is similar to quarter round – it is 3/4″ on one side and 1/2″ on the other side and also has a rounded edge.
So, if you are adding hardwood or refinishing your wood floors, consider whether upgrading your base molding at the same time is worth it. It can make a big difference in your room, and it’s perfect opportunity to make the upgrade.
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Base moldings: The impact of upgrading your base molding