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.
At one point in your life, you are either going to have to replace the carpet in your home, or in a property that you rent or manage. Most people are afraid of the task of switching carpet, but it is not as difficult as it seems. Once your carpet is ready for a change, do you need to remove the baseboards to install it?
If you are in the process of building a home, installing carpet before your baseboards go in is always the best option. While you can have your baseboards removed when fitting a new carpet, most contractors are going to work around it. Carpet is always one of the last jobs performed on a new build because removing the baseboards for installation is not only unnecessary but can be costly.
Any renovation in your home is going to be expensive, and finding the perfect flooring and having it installed correctly can add even more to that cost. Let’s talk about why most contractors leave the baseboards intact during carpet installation and why it is easier to do so.
Can You Install Carpet Without Removing the Baseboards?
Unless you are working with a new build, any contractor you come into contact with is going to leave the baseboards intact while replacing or installing carpet. Most carpet and padding stop before the wall and are secured with a nail tack strip. Once it is secured to the strip, a carpet tucker is used to secure the remainder of the carpet underneath the baseboard.
Your average carpet installer is capable of replacing the baseboards, but there is always the risk of damage when trying to remove it. This is why most contractors try to avoid it at all costs. If you are replacing or installing the carpet yourself, removing the baseboards will end up causing you extra time and stress on an already large project.
Ultimately, you can choose to remove the baseboards in the room you are working on, but it is not required. If you are using professionals to install your new carpet, they are most likely going to leave the baseboards up since they do the task for a living. If you are new to carpet installation or looking to upgrade your home, removing the baseboards is entirely up to you.
Why You Should Leave the Baseboards Attached when Installing Carpet
The main reason you should consider leaving the baseboards attached is that it is generally less work. You can install the carpet and not have to deal with removing and reattaching the baseboard trim. If your baseboards were correctly installed when the home was built, then there should be enough room to use a carpet tucker on your carpet installation. The gap is there for a reason, so you might as well use it!
When installing carpet after the baseboards are in place, there will usually be some instructions that tell you how far you need for both the carpet pad and the carpet itself. This is generally about an inch for the nail tack, and you will use a carpet tucker to tuck the excess carpet into the baseboard. Some people will also use a shoe or quarter round to further secure the carpet in place.
One thing that you should always take into consideration when it comes to carpet installation is whether you are renting or you own the property. If you are renting, you will want to get the carpet installation approved before you ever start. Your landlord may have certain restrictions, or they may even offer to have it done for you if it is in your rental agreement.
Most contractors or DIY carpet installers will let you know that you should be more careful if you are installing carpet while baseboards are attached. Since you are hammering both the nail tack strip and the carpet, the baseboards can easily be hit by the tool. Even the carpet tucker can result in damage to your baseboard.
What if you want to Remove the Baseboards?
Removing your baseboards is not going to change how your carpet will look if it is done correctly, but it may be a better idea if baseboards need replacement or if you are working in an older home. Here are four steps that can help you remove the baseboards from your wall correctly.
- Using a utility knife, slide along the top of the baseboard where it meets the wall. You should separate the paint or reside from the baseboard’s connection to the wall.
- Use something with a wedge to gently pry the baseboard from the wall. Keep in mind that there will be nails holding the trim to the wall.
- Repeat this step for the length of the trim, slowly pulling the trim off of the wall.
- Number your pieces of trim to a specific wall to make sure you replace them properly.
One of the most significant downsides to removing your baseboard trim when installing a new carpet is that you can easily crack or split trim if you remove it improperly. A split piece of trim will not only require you to replace the rest of the trim in the room to match the new section, but it can also add on quite an expense to your carpet installation project. The older your home is, the higher the risk of damaging the baseboard trim in your home.
Once your carpet is laid back down, you can start replacing your trim. While you want to be careful about the removal, nailing your trim again should be just as delicate of a process. Once your trim is nailed back, make sure you go back and touch up areas that may need a little paint, being careful not to get it onto your newly installed carpet.
A benefit that comes with removing baseboards is that it gives you a chance to update older or broken baseboards that you may have. Laying your baseboard on top of a carpet installation usually means that the carpet will be more secure, which is ideal if you are looking to sell your home. A baseboard face-lift can completely change the look and feel of a room.
So, Is It Better To Remove The Baseboards?
As a final thought, which is better for carpet installation? If your home or rental was built properly, you should not have to remove the baseboards. There should be enough room below where the drywall ends for you to be able to tuck the end of your carpet in and have a seamless carpet installation. It’s not necessary to remove them, but sometimes you either do not have a choice, or you are looking for a more detailed process.
Choosing not to remove your baseboards can significantly cut back on expenses in terms of labor. One of the risks is damage occurring to the baseboards as a result of installing the carpet. Removing the baseboards can quickly result in splitting or breaking the trim apart.
For those who are keen on removing the baseboards, it should be done as carefully and as organized as you can make it. Watching tutorials online and asking questions at your local home improvement store are both great ways to get tips and tricks from those who have done it before. Removing the baseboards may be an excellent option for those who are working on older homes, have building errors, or are looking for a stronger hold.
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