Baseboards may seem like a pretty small detail, but they play a big role in tying the whole room together in a neat little package. A baseboard placed too high or too low off the ground can make the room feel ever-so-slightly off. Your first instinct may be to place the baseboard directly touching the floor, but is this the right move?
Baseboards should only touch the floor if you have no plans to carpet your floors and if you’ve already finished installing your other flooring. If you have yet to install the rest of your floor, carpet or otherwise, you’ll need to take into account the height of the installed flooring.
In this article, I’ll be going over when it is and isn’t acceptable for your baseboard to touch the floor. I’ll also be giving some tips on how to find the correct distance off the ground to install your baseboard at, and I’ll end by giving a few tips for how to fill the space between the floor and baseboard.
When Baseboards Should and Shouldn’t Touch the Floor
Whether or not your baseboard should touch the floor depends entirely on the state of your room’s current flooring and any additions that you might want to make in the future.
If Your Floor Has Already Been Installed: If you have already installed your flooring and you have no plans to carpet your room, you can feel free to install your baseboard touching the floor.
Installing a baseboard flush against the floor will give your room a clean room without any gaps or edges along the wall. It also makes the setup process relatively easier.
You’ll want to make sure that the floor you install your baseboard onto is completely level to prevent any tiny bumps that can show up while you’re setting up the baseboard.
If You Still Need to Install Your Floor or Carpeting: If you haven’t already placed the flooring for your room, or you’re planning on installing carpeting, your baseboard likely shouldn’t be touching the floor.
If you install the baseboard directly against the floor before placing any carpeting or the final flooring, you’ll end up with a baseboard that is overall uneven and slightly too low in comparison to the floor around it. This can make the overall room feel sloppy and overall aesthetically displeasing.
For carpeting, this can be especially important.
According to this article by Interiorsplace, it’s generally recommended to install your baseboard before you place your carpet in order to keep the edges of the carpet neatly tucked underneath. In addition, you’ll be able to paint or make any additions to the baseboard without staining or damaging the carpet.
But this means that you’ll need to take appropriate precautions in allowing the proper amount of room between the floor and the baseboard.
Not being able to set up the baseboard flush against the floor definitely makes the installation process somewhat more difficult than if you were working with an already-finished flooring; still, with the proper measurements, you can easily figure out where to install your baseboard for the cleanest finish.
How Much Space Should There Be Between the Floor and the Baseboard?
To measure out the space between your floor and the baseboard, you’re going to have to pay a great deal of attention to the flooring material that you end up using.
For material like hardwood or tile, this is simple enough; take the thickness of the material you’re using and place the baseboard just above there.
But this can be a bit harder to figure out with carpeting. When measuring the thickness of carpeting, Home Depot recommends taking into account both the carpet itself and its padding. The baseboard should fit “snugly” on top of the carpet without squeezing it in.
In short, take precautions and allocate only as much space as the thickness of your material calls for.
How To Fill In a Gap Between the Floor and Baseboard
Let’s say that you’ve already installed your baseboard and your flooring only to find that, to your horror, you overestimated the space you needed between the two! Or, maybe you’ve just moved into a new apartment or house that had a baseboard attached far too above the ground.
For scenarios like these, here are a few options you can try to narrow the gap between the floor and the baseboard.
This is the easiest option for filling in small, isolated gaps between the baseboard and the floor. You can use caulking (and, if needed, an appropriate caulking gun) to fill in the problem areas. You can even use a caulk that’s a similar color to your wall/floor, or wait for the caulk to dry and paint over it.
There are a few things to note with this method, though.
If your floor is carpeted, you’ll likely want to avoid using this method due to the caulk being able to stain and ruin any carpet that it is placed on.
You also might want to stay clear of this method if you need to fill in larger gaps between the floor and baseboard. While caulk is pretty handy to use in little areas here and there, it may get expensive to use it over long distances or to fill in gaps of greater heights.
Still, caulk is a pretty handy and simple solution; if you’d like to give it a try, you can click here to purchase a Gorilla Caulk available on Amazon.com.
If you do need to fill in larger gaps that span long distances (or even the length of an entire wall!), you might want to consider using shoe molding. Shoe molding, also known as “base shoe,” is a thin strip that goes at the bottom of the baseboard and provides it with a tidy, finished look.
For our purposes, it can also do wonders with regards to covering up unwanted gaps between the baseboard and the floor. Shoe molding looks neater than caulking, especially when caulk is used to fill in large gaps.
Installing shoe molding can be a bit of a lengthy, complicated process that could have its own article dedicated to it.
To make things easier on you, why not watch this quick video by OMG Home Stuff showing you how you can install shoe molding onto the bottom of your baseboard to cover a gap?
Reinstall the Baseboard
Although it’s not the solution you’ll probably want to hear, sometimes the easiest (and nicest-looking) solution will be to just reinstall the baseboard. This is especially true if the baseboard is in a house or room that you own rather than one that you’re just renting.
If you do reinstall the baseboard, make sure to properly plan for the height of your floor to avoid any issues in the future.
When installing a baseboard onto your wall, only allow it to directly touch the floor if you have already finished installing your flooring and have no plans to carpet over it. Otherwise, you’ll have to take into account the thickness of whatever flooring material you use and adjust the height of your baseboard accordingly.
- Interiorsplace: Are Baseboards Installed Before or After Flooring?
- Home Depot: How to Install Baseboard
- Youtube: How to Cover Gaps Under Baseboards with Shoe Molding
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