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You’ve come to the realization the baseboards in your home are beyond salvageable with a simple coat of paint, and your home needs a makeover anyway. As you begin removing the old ones and searching out a replacement, you find it necessary to answer the question, “What is the standard size of a baseboard?” It is important to know, especially if you’re repainting your walls, while those baseboards are off, how much space the replacements will occupy. We’ve compiled some important information about baseboards so you can focus your research on finding the perfect paint color.
The standard size of a baseboard generally varies in relation to the wall’s height. Most baseboards are about 1/2- to 1-inch thick and anywhere from 3- to 8-inches in height. The measurement can also vary depending on whether or not crown molding is installed. To ensure visual aesthetics, the baseboard height should match that of the crown molding.
Though we have given the standard span of measurement considered when installing a baseboard, there are many factors only briefly touched upon, which can help determine the best size of baseboard for your home. Read on to learn more about getting the perfect size and shape.
What Is The Best Baseboard Size For A 9-Foot Ceiling?
Most residential homes have a 9-foot ceiling, so a common question among homeowners is what size of baseboard best fits this size’s walls. The most commonly recommended size for a 9-foot ceiling height is between 3- to 5-inches.
Although 3- to 5-inches is typical, a few other factors must be considered. For example, if you have crown molding adjacent to your home’s ceilings that is 6-inches, try your best to match that height to keep your room from appearing asymmetrical. Also, keep personal preference in mind. Just because your walls are of a certain height doesn’t mean you can’t have high baseboards. Higher baseboards could be considered a bold statement and can add personality to your room.
Additionally, consider if you will be adding any embellishments to your baseboards. We’ll discuss what you can do to dress up your boring trim in more detail below. Read on to find out more.
Should Baseboards Touch the Floor?
Baseboards should not be entirely flush with the floor. There are several reasons to leave a tiny gap of space, generally, anywhere from 3/8- to 1/2-inch, with the primary reasoning to leave space for flooring installation or removal. In the case of carpeting, the carpet must be stretched and tacked underneath the baseboards, as any protruding tacks could injure bare feet. In the case of tile or hardwood, the sharp edges are hidden by baseboards, also protecting feet.
Another reason to leave a gap would be in the event of a flood; the gap allows the drywall to wick up any excess moisture from floors. Many local building codes mandate this gap, so be sure to consult your local building official and the codes for your area to ensure you’re not in violation of anything unknowingly.
Take care when leaving a gap, as baseboards installed at a slant could leave a bigger gap in some places than in others and create an unattractive look.
What is the Most Popular Baseboard Material?
Now that you have a good idea of the standard sizing for baseboards, you’re wondering about the best material to use. The most popular type of material for a baseboard is medium density fiberboard (MDF). MDF is a material made by binding wood fibers using heat, pressure, and varying resin elements. These types of baseboards must always be primed and painted.
There are several reasons for MDF’s popularity. It’s generally inexpensive and easy to work with. The material’s makeup also boasts it is mold and mildew resistant, making it ideal for humid environments. However, the types of adhesive used in MDF have been found to give off low levels of toxic gas, potentially for years after installation, which could leave a homeowner with health and environmental concerns.
Can Other Types Of Materials Be Used For Baseboards?
Outside of MDF, there are several other options for your baseboards. Using pure wooden baseboards is also popular. The benefit of using natural wood means the beauty of the grains and rings can shine through. These types of baseboards can be stained and sealed and left unpainted.
However, you do have the option of painting these as well, although this would defeat one of the advantages of having natural wood baseboards. Real wood is stronger than MDF, as well, so it doesn’t require as much reinforcement. However, the wood can bow and create uneven spots, so in that regard, MDF is superior as it will hold its shape.
Another type of baseboard material used is vinyl. Vinyl is an excellent choice for bathrooms or utility rooms as it is water and termite resistant. Since it is a synthetic material, it tends to be less expensive as well. As with MDF, however, the types of adhesive used have been suggested to be unhealthy.
Polyurethane is also becoming more popular for baseboards. Polyurethane is an industrial material pressed, molded, and sanded to mimic the look of more traditional baseboards. Polyurethane is durable and waterproof, similar to vinyl, so it also works well in rooms with excess moisture. However, it can be delicate to work with, so installation might be a bit more difficult.
What is Base Cap Molding Used For?
Base cap molding is a decorative piece of building material added to the baseboard’s top to create an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Base cap molding ranges in wood types and sizes depending on the homeowner’s preference. Since smaller molding can be relatively inexpensive, there’s no reason not to add this touch to your baseboards to make them as attractive as you’d like.
Additionally, shoe molding can be added, which is a decorative piece added to the trim’s base against the floor. The two coupled together can create an elegant look.
Both these touches of flair should be considered when deciding what the size of your baseboard will be.
How Much Do New Baseboards Cost?
The cost of new baseboards can vary greatly. Consider whether or not this will be a DIY project. Labor to install new baseboards makes the price jump significantly. The average labor cost to install baseboards ranges from about $4 to $7 per linear foot. The primary cost involved with replacing baseboards is the labor involved, seeing how the material cost for baseboards per linear foot (when using MDF) is somewhere between $.60 and $2.
These prices can go up if you plan on installing cap molding and shoe molding. The region in which you live can affect your costs as well. Here is a handy calculator to help estimate your costs.
We’ve learned the standard range of sizes for baseboards. Overall, it really depends on the height of your ceilings and your personal sense of style. Baseboards vary as much as the people who own and install them. Take replacing your baseboards as an opportunity to add some flair and personality to your home, and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it.