Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Baseboards are a critical part of any building, whether it be a home or office building. While baseboards can offer appeal to a room, they also serve an especially vital purpose of protecting the drywall from kicks and bumps, which could cause it to break.
Can baseboards be too tall? Not all baseboards are created to be used for every single living space. There are specific guidelines that contractors and designers tend to follow when it comes to choosing the best baseboards for a given space, based on the height of the ceiling:
- 8-foot ceiling 3-5 inches in height
- 9-foot ceiling 4-6 inches in height
- 10-foot ceiling 5-7 inches in height
- 12-foot ceiling 6-8 inches in height
The height measurements also include any molding that may be added to the top for decorative purposes.
Choosing baseboards is far from the most challenging part of building or decorating a home, but it is a decision that needs to be made wisely because it can alter the entire appearance of your home. In this article, you will learn about the sizes of baseboards and how to choose the best baseboard for your living space.
Does Height Matter?
When it comes to baseboards, height is a particularly important factor in the decision-making process. If you place baseboards that are too high into a room, it will not be aesthetically pleasing, and you will likely not be happy with the decision. On the flip side, if the baseboards are too low, they will also be unpleasing to the eye. (Source: Don Pedro Brooklyn)
The look you are trying to achieve will likely be a significant factor when choosing the height of the baseboard to use. Typically, if you want an elegant or more modern look, it is recommended that a higher baseboard be used. Again, depending on the height of your ceiling, this will either top out between 5-8 inches. (Source: Anita Yokota)
The Problem with Tall Baseboards
Maybe you are interested in making the rooms in your home look elegant, so you are determined to go with an ultra-tall baseboard in hopes of achieving this look. Unfortunately, you will likely not end with an elegant look. Instead, you will notice your room seems to be rather short. The ultimate goal when choosing a baseboard is to provide visual balance to the room. (Source: Home Guides)
If the baseboard is too tall for the room, it will not provide the balance needed to make the room visually appealing. Instead, it will appear to close the walls of the room up, as the distance from the baseboard to the ceiling is too minimal.
The Problem with Short Baseboards
So, if tall baseboards are a problem, what about short baseboards? Depending on the ceiling height, short baseboards may also be problematic. Remember, they are used to create a visual balance in the room. If they are too short, they may get lost in a room with high ceilings and will not provide any aesthetic purpose at all.
Can You Make Your Baseboards Taller?
Perhaps you have a home with higher ceilings and short baseboards. Likely you do not want to spend the money it would take to re-install new baseboards. Lucky for you, there are a couple of ways you can make the baseboards in your home more visually appealing.
Making your baseboards taller can be quite simple to accomplish, and it can be done in a rather cost-effective manner, depending on the tools you need to purchase and the style or type of molding you prefer to use.
You can adjust the current baseboards in your home with layers or molding:
- Layers: You can use the baseboard that is currently on your wall and add to it with a new layer of baseboard on top. When doing this, you need to be careful not to go over the recommended height for your ceiling. If you prefer a chunky baseboard, this project will likely make you incredibly happy. When choosing layers, make sure they complement one another and can have the appearance of being seamless.
- Molding: If you are not impressed with the thought or idea of adding an entirely new layer of baseboard around the room, you can easily add height with a layer of molding along the top of your pre-existing baseboard. Again, it would help if you made sure this added layer compliments the baseboard that is currently in place. (Source: The Idea Room)
What Tools Do You Need?
If you are ready to begin adding height to your baseboard, you will need the following tools to do so:
- Miter saw
- Measuring tape
- Nail gun
- Molding or baseboard
Miter Saw: A miter saw is a tool that is used to create angled cuts for projects such as baseboard or molding installation.
Some excellent miters saws are:
If you do not want to purchase a large piece of equipment, you can also choose to use a miter box. This allows the same process with cutting, only instead of electricity, it uses manpower.
Some miter boxes you can try are:
Measuring Tape: You must accurately measure each of the lengths of molding and baseboard so that you are not wasting materials or time with unnecessary cuts.
A couple of great tape measures you can purchase online are:
Nail Gun: While not completely necessary, nail guns will make the process of installing the baseboard or molding go much more quickly.
Some nail guns that come highly-recommended are:
Caulking: When working with baseboards, especially when layering or adding molding, you want to add a finishing touch of caulking. While this is not always necessary, it provides a complete look to the job. When choosing your caulk, you want to make sure it matches your baseboard color.
Baseboard or Molding: The most crucial part of your project will be the new baseboard layer or the molding that you choose to use. This is something that you will need to visit a home improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot to purchase. When choosing the baseboard or molding, remember to focus on how it will connect to the current baseboard as well as the total height at completion.
(Source: This Old House)
If you are in the position of having baseboards that are too high for the room, there is not an easy fix. You will most likely need to remove the baseboards and replace them with a shorter option. When choosing the new baseboards, make sure you factor in the height of the flooring, as this will impact the overall height of the finished product.
Are Baseboards Necessary?
After reading about the logistics of baseboards, you may be wondering if they are necessary for a home to look complete. While there can be a degree of personal preference when it comes to this answer, many contractors would advise you to use baseboards to protect the wallboard.
If you bump the bottom of the wall, you run the risk of cracking the drywall. If you spill liquid on the floor, it could soak into the drywall. Because accidents like this can harm your wall, baseboards are an essential part of your home.
Baseboards are commonly overlooked because they are so commonplace. However, they are a great way to make a statement in a home. When choosing the baseboards for your home, you must stick to the measurement recommendations for the height of your ceiling.
Overly tall baseboards can shorten a room while short baseboards can get lost in a room with tall ceilings. If a replacement is not an option, allow your creativity to flow by adding layers. You may be surprised at the statements you can make with baseboards.
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