Welcome to our baseboard styles ultimate guide including a variety of types to use for your interior designs.
What is baseboard? Baseboard is a large category with a lot of names; skirting board, skirting, mop-board, floor molding, base molding, all of these names meaning the same thing, the material on the bottom of the wall connecting to the floor.
What is baseboard for? Well, baseboard is actually extremely useful, as well as adding a little extra visual interest to the home. The most important reason baseboard exists is to cover the joints between the flooring and the walls. This will contain any leaks, hide any imperfections, avoid scratching things up, and avoid getting things stuck in the cracks and crevices that the two materials butting up against each other create.
On top of the need for it, baseboard has become somewhat of a decorative piece as well. Baseboards and molding allow for another means to add decorative accents and personality to a space that can subtly be carried throughout the entire room, or even building.
There are a great deal of different types, styles and selections that need to be sorted through before coming to a decision for the right baseboard per project. Some of the options and recommendations are below.
Types of Baseboard Molding
There are many shapes and sizes of baseboards, and each is used for a different interior designs, whether it be decorative or functional. Some of the types of baseboard moldings can be combined with each other, depending on desire and which types you select. For example you could have a three inch rounded baseboard with an added quarter round along the bottom for protection.
Three-Inch Rounded & Stepped Baseboard
One of the most commonly used residential baseboards are the three inch rounded or stepped baseboards. This is because the top of the baseboard tapers off to give a softer more decorative corner. While still mildly decorative it is one of the less expensive options, due to its popularity. This is most commonly used in a contemporary design, but also is simple enough to blend into almost any style.
Quarter Round Baseboard
Quarter round baseboard is in the shape of a quarter of a circle, hence the name. This is typically a very small circumference as it is a decorative piece used to hide any gaps between the baseboard and floor. The quarter round piece is an addition on the bottom outer edge of the baseboard and is referred to as a base shoe on occasion.
Quarter round baseboard is made out of the same material as the rest of the baseboard, as it is an addition to it.
Slant Fin Baseboard
Slant Fin is a brand of baseboard that specializes in baseboard heaters. These are great in both commercial and residential applications. This type in particular uses hot water to heat up a space. The baseboard boils water to send through the pipes. These are an efficient source of heating, sometimes even better than the central heating system.
There are certain requirements to get this type of baseboard heater in a location though. Check for flooring and plumbing requirements before selecting this choice of baseboard.
Baseboard with Rounded Corners aka Bullnose Baseboard
Baseboard with rounded corners are a fantastic addition to a home, especially if you are one of those who find yourself frequently stubbing your toe on the corners. This type of corner is known as a bullnose corner! Having rounded corners gives a softer look and can tie is with other rounded feature in a space.
This also avoids having an unfinished edge. Round corners on baseboard can save you and your items when bumping into it, instead of having a sharp corner than can scrape items or break skin, with rounded corners you may only need to deal with a small bruise or bump! This style can be used in most different kinds of baseboards.
Square Baseboard aka Flat Baseboard
Square, or flat baseboard, is a more basic style that offers a sharp clean look. This type is available in most materials and is good to be used when the rest of the moldings in the area are meant to be the focal point. This type of baseboard has squared off corners, instead of the rounded ones mentioned above. This offers a more sophisticated look.
The profile of the baseboard is how it looks from the side, so basically the height and shape of the baseboard itself. This is where you can get creative in the way that the baseboard looks. Some of the most typical options are as follows.
Back Profile baseboard is a technique that cuts out the back of the baseboard instead of the front. This is done so that the baseboard can be placed over an existing piece and still lie flush to the wall. Back profiled baseboard can either be done to cover old baseboard without removing it, or to reveal some in the back still giving a stacked look.
Sculpted Mid-Height Baseboard Trim
Sculpted Baseboard trim can actually be at multiple heights, including mid height and a taller version! The mid height sculpted baseboard is usually about 4 to 5 ½ inches tall and about 5/8” thick. With the sculpted type it is shaped in a decorative fashion with different accents like scallops or steps going back into the wall to add interest to the baseboard.
The taller version of the above mentioned sculpted baseboard trim runs about 5 inches to 7 inches tall, and coordinates with the mid height version at 5/8 inches thick. This type of trim adds a more drastic accent to the wall board.
This is like the sculpted mid height baseboard with the scallops and steps that are included in the design. As the taller it is the more material it uses, it also ups the price a little, making it more expensive than its shorter counterpart. For areas with high ceilings or large square footage this type of baseboard can be extremely important in keeping the proportions correct and not make the trim look tiny and out of place.
Styles of Baseboards
Now to match the style of your baseboard to the style of your home can be a little tricky after you factor in all the other things you have to consider. Below are a few examples and suggestions per some styles of homes.
Colonial design is known to be quite classical and used many decorative elements. Wood is the material to use, as that is what was available the time the style came to be. Heavy items with a lot of decoration were used throughout the homes, which is also relayed throughout the design of the baseboards.
Natural colors and not too much attention are brought to the baseboards in the colonial style. Often white or the natural wood is left. Crown molding and dado rails are popular in colonial design and are coordinated with the baseboards.
Modern design uses a majority of neutral colors, and does not focus too much on baseboards in particular, due to the minimalist nature of the style. This leads the baseboards to be of similar color to the wall paint, or something soft and white to keep it from standing out. As for the shape to keep the modern design it is recommended to find an extremely narrow base that does not have any decorative shape to it. This, again, fits with the minimalism of modern design.
For the more adventuresome, there are many modern baseboards styles coming out that feature a stepped design with straight edges. Another popular style is a recessed design where the actual baseboard is set in the wall itself.
Craftsman Style Baseboard
The craftsman style is, as the name suggests, is all about the craftsman! This is where they get creative with the materials that are available. These handmade baseboards are a staple in craftsman style home due to the immense focus on built ins, moldings and millwork. Typically these baseboards are of simple structure and are made of durable hardwood.
Farmhouse style baseboards leave the space gelling informal and traditional. Often for the baseboards wood is the chosen material as the rest of the house is styled using woods.
Crown molding and simple baseboards are common in the farmhouse design. In this style you may find vibrant colors or whitewashed wood in the baseboards to coordinate with the rest of the space. These are all relatively in budget as well, since the simple design is preferred versus and elaborate designs and moldings that can increase price.
Baseboard Molding Material
There are a great deal of options when it comes to choosing the material for the baseboards of your home, and lucky enough most of these materials allow for any of the types, styles and profiles that are discussed above. Bringing it down to the materials really hammers out the cost and installation method that are the next steps of the process.
Wood baseboard is a beautiful and natural element that can be added to a home. This is one of the most high end choices for baseboard, but with that comes a larger price tag compared to some options. Solid wood baseboard typically runs from $1 to $3 depending on the quality of the wood selected.
Selecting hardwood for baseboard is good due to its ability to be stained any color and it being a natural and renewable resource. Most wood doesn’t come primed, which means there is a little more up front work on it, but in the end it can be worth if for a warm feeling wood base.
Pine Baseboard is a specific type of wood baseboard. This type of wood baseboard is a great choice for more a more budget dependent project. Jointed pine is pre-treated and primed, which takes out and knots, warping and it also make for easy installation due the flexibility of the wood.
This baseboard have a lot of visible seams that some people do not like, so staining the wood dark can give a better illusion, but cannot completely hide the joints in the baseboard.
These joints that are mentioned are glued together, which can contain harmful chemicals that one should watch out for. The price jointed pine baseboard typically runs from about $1.50 to $3.00 per linear foot. For pine baseboard without the joints it is a lot lower price point of under a dollar per linear foot, but that comes without the ease and good qualities of the jointing.
Oak Baseboard is a more expensive wood, but is a great option when it comes to staining wood. This is an easily available product as well. Having the ability to be stained lets it perfectly match with the flooring or the wooden elements in the space. This adds a wonderfully cohesive look in the building or room.
MDF stands or medium density fiberboard, which is what it is made of. MDF is one of the most basic forms or baseboard, but interest can be added by forming it into and profile and painting it the color of choice. MDF is typically painted since it does not have a wood grain to stain or whitewash.
This product is easy to use since it is soft and usually pre- primed, meaning an extra step a self-installer can avoid. MDF is also a well priced material, running about $0.65 to $0.90 per linear foot.
While MDF is a low budget and easy to use product, it is not as friendly to the environment. MDF is made of resin, and wood fibers heated and pressed to the extreme to create the baseboard. These resins that are used as binders contain formaldehyde, which can off gas, especially when wet. You can read more about MDF vs wood here.
Typically when you think of PVC you think of PVC pipes, which are used for plumbing fixtures and other projects. If it this material is usually used for plumbing, then it must have some resistant qualities that could be used for other things, like baseboard, and it does.
The synthetic material PVC is resistant to water and the other elements. This type of baseboard and molding is great for kitchens and bathrooms where water is a concern. With PVCs ability to withstand the elements, it can even be used in outdoor areas.
Unfortunately, PVC is not as easy to install as MDF, PVC requires drilling holes everywhere a nail is going to be placed, or else the PVC can break. On top of that this synthetic material is not good for the environment. There are a number of environmental and safety considerations when it comes to using PVC in a space. PVC is also a lot higher in cost than the previously mentioned MDF, PVC runs about $2 to $6 per linear foot.
Plastic baseboard can come in almost any color and style, and can be produced in large quantities to save on the cost. That being said, the color you buy up front is the color it stays, painting plastic does not tend to go well if trying to change the color in the future.
Plastic is a durable material for baseboard, but is another kind that needs to have the holes drilled into it before nails to avoid breaks or cracks. Though durable, they are not flexible, meaning plastic is not the ideal material in curved walls or to go around corners without seams. Plastic baseboards are rot and mildew resistant but they are not environmentally friendly.
Vinyl baseboard has many similarities to the plastic mentioned above. Vinyl baseboard is strong and is available in any color imaginable. Vinyl baseboard comes in long rolls while it is adhered to the wall by a strong glue substance.
Vinyl is durable, easy to maintain and cost effective compared to rubber. In addition they are easy to install and cost effective. Unfortunately vinyl can crack or curl over time if not properly handled and cared for. Other downsides are they can not be painted and they can attract mildew.
Vinyl baseboards are often used in bathrooms as they hold up well in damp conditions. Vinyl baseboards are not recommended for the living room. For living rooms it is better to use MDF baseboard or hardwood.
Vinyl and rubber baseboard share a great deal of qualities. Rubber is of higher quality and comes at a higher cost. While vinyl is extremely durable and easy to maintain, rubber pushes those qualities even farther to be the superior material.
White baseboard is a common selection due to it matching most anything that could be brought into the space, which is helpful so that the baseboard can match throughout the entire homes, and it is not something that is frequently replaced. Also keeping the baseboard the natural wood color that it is is a common and cost effective selection.
Other popular colors can coordinate with the scheme of the room the baseboard is being placed. Some people wouldn’t think that a baseboard is very important, but if taken seriously they can accent a room or cause some serious drama.
To keep it simple, selecting a color a few shades darker than the wall color gives the room a clean coordinated feel. In a less exciting space, perhaps selecting a bright color can make the room pop and can act as an accent piece, especially when playing with different baseboard profiles.
Typically when it comes to wall base, the base itself runs from about ½ of an inch to 1 inch thick. As for height it varies by style and desire. Baseboard can be anywhere from 3 inches to 8 inches tall. This can be determined by a number of situations.
If there is a crown molding or other sorts of decorative trimming it is important to consider the proportions between the two. In a perfect world if the wall is about 8 feet tall, baseboards are about 3 inches to 5 inches tall, while if there is a 10 foot wall it could be about 5 inches to 7 inches tall.
Cost can be a huge part of a project, the hit or miss of whether or not it really gets done. The nice thing about baseboard is that it does not have to be a project that breaks the bank, but it can have a huge impact on the home style and feel. Some of the price, and tactics to get the price to where you need it.
Baseboard can range in price based on the materials selected and different details and decorative accents that are included in the baseboard itself. Typically, this ranges from $0.60 to $1.20 per linear foot. All other crown moldings and trims are of similar pricing and are usually done at the same times as they tend to go together.
Cost to Install Baseboard
The installation part itself is one of the more expensive parts. The removal of old baseboard and installation of new is typically about $1000 not including all the materials that need to be bought. Maybe that cost is something you can knock down by doing the project by yourself? If so make sure you have someone with a little experience and make sure you learn the best procedures on how to remove and install the particular baseboard you have to avoid having to call the professionals anyways to clean up your mess.
Broken down by material may be a better representation on price. For an 8 foot section (roughly the length of one wall in a bedroom) MDF or PVC baseboards cost about $10, using a base design, nothing too fancy. For that same length and design but being made out of wood is about $25. At a more expensive option polyurethane runs about $32 for the 8 foot piece of baseboard. Adding additional accents or piece (such as a quarter round) add more money per piece.
Replacing baseboards is going to go one of two ways; you are going to dent the walls, or you are not. This is not always something that you get too decided, so be prepared for the worst. Whether you are replacing just one piece of baseboard that got damaged, or you are replacing the entire thing, the process is basically the same; just one takes a whole lot longer.
To begin, you have to pry off the existing baseboard. These should just be nailed in and possibly caulked around the edges. If there is caulk, use a knife or another sharp too to break that seal so you can insert a prying tool or the back of a hammer in between the wall and the baseboard.
After that, use the prying tool or hammer to remove any pieces of baseboard that you no longer need on the wall. Take care to avoid scuffing and denting the wall behind as much as possible, because you have to go back and fix that eventually.
Once everything has been removed, you just reinstall any new baseboard that you have following the instructions per the product that you have purchased.
What Size Nails for Baseboard
The size of nails that should be used for nailing in baseboard trim is 1 ½ inch nails. The holes for the nails should be predrilled in some materials to avoid splitting or cracking the baseboard material. Check the specific material to see the needs and warnings. These nails can we installed using a brad power nailer, or they can be installed by using a trusty ole hammer and arm power.
A good portion of baseboards need to be painted, and over time repainted for repairs or change of color. By painting baseboard it gives them the ability to be pretty much any color imaginable. However, the most popular color by far is white baseboards to match other white trim around windows and crown molding.
Wood and MDF baseboards can be painted, while it may not be a great idea to paint the vinyl or rubber selections. Typically MDF is pre primed to add strength, but if it is not make sure to prime that surface before adding paint to it. Color options are pretty limitless when it comes to painting, which makes MDF and wood a popular choice
Paint Grade for Baseboard
The best grade to paint baseboards is semi gloss. This type of paint is good for cleaning and has only a little bit of sheen to it as to not call an unneeded amount of attention to it. For an even flatter look an eggshell paint works. Eggshell paint can hide imperfections and avoids any glares or shine on the baseboards.
How to Paint Baseboards with Carpet
First off, getting pre-painted baseboard is the easiest way to avoid getting paint on the carpet, but if you are asking this question, I assume that is not an option. Sometimes baseboard needs to be repainted or touched up, or maybe there is just a desire for a new look and this is the least expensive and time consuming solution.
Painters tape and plastic can be great helpers in this situation. Taping a large sheer of plastic to the bottom of the trim (really get it in there) avoids the accidental spilling or flyoff from paintbrushes. I myself am notorious for overlooking or doing a bad job on this step because I want it to be done fast, but to protect the carpet this must be one well, and there cannot be any exposed carpet or it will get ruined.
Baseboard Ideas – Q & A
What is the difference between baseboard and trim?
Simply, baseboard is a type of trim. Trim is the overall term for any molding and millwork. The baseboard is the specific trim that is placed where the floor and the walls meet. The baseboard is used to cover the section where the wall and floor meet, while trim can cover the area were the door frame meets the wall or the wall meets the ceiling. Baseboards are just specifically at the base of the wall – hence the name.
Should shoe molding match baseboards?
While not a requirement, and typically the shoe board is not seen very well, it is best to match the moldings as best as possible, or at least make them coordinating. An example of shoe molding is a quarter round piece, which is commonly the exact same material and painted the same as the rest of the base it is attached to.
Do baseboards need to match door trim?
Again, it is not a requirement that the baseboard and door trim match, and in a lot of commercial application this is not the case. In homes, it is usually best to get matching trim and baseboards to keep a cohesive look throughout the space. In situations where you are required to have metal door frame it is likely the trim and baseboard has to be different.
What is the best material for baseboards?
Wood is the best material for baseboards. While each of the materials have their own special qualities and wood is not the cheapest of the options but price is worth the quality. Wood is a strong material that can take a beating and be easily replaced. There are certain areas that require other materials (wet areas and PVC) but ultimately wood is a great choice for baseboards.
Is MDF good for baseboards?
MDF is good for baseboards, it is not the best, but it is good. Wood is just barely better than MDF and MDF comes at quite a lower cost than wood which can be an extremely good thing for some people. Again, there are some places that MDF is not ideal, but that is why they make PVC and rubber baseboards as well.
What is the most popular baseboard trim?
Three inch rounded or stepped baseboard is the most common type of baseboard. This type gives a little bit of design to the baseboard as well as detail without going overboard and making it overwhelming. This is great to fit into a number of different style homes and is simple enough to stay at a decent price point.
What size baseboard molding should I use?
The size baseboard you should use is based on the size of your wall and space. Generally with larger walls (like something 10 feet tall) it is recommended to use a 5 inch to 7 inch base. Commercial buildings tend to use a 6 inch base. With smaller, more typical residential wall heights (8 feet tall) it is recommended to use a baseboard 3 inches to 5 inches – common residential is 4 inch baseboards.
For another related gallery check out our article about wainscoting ideas.