Baseboard help

I recently removed some white wooden baseboards (drywall) to install flooring. For re-installation, I need to 'finish' the edge between baseboard and wall. Previously, some form of caulk achieved this...but it made the removal of the baseboards difficult (paint peeling, drywall paper tearing, etc.). In addition, the top of the baseboards were really difficult to keep clean..grime seemed to accumulate there, and removing the grime seemed next to impossible.
For the re-installation, I'm looking a smooth, straight line between baseboard and wall, but I would like to avoid the problems mentioned above (dirty, difficult to remove baseboards after the fact). Any suggestions on how to achieve this? What type of filler/material should I use as interface between wall/baseboard? Lightweight spackling? Some special type of caulk?
What about method of application? What's the best way to get a smooth, straight line?
Cheers, Dave
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EMPLOY A BUILDER dave snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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Filler? Caulking? What kind of crappy job did you have or crappy walls? If the walls are reasonably straight all you have to do is nail the baseboards in place.
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dave snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

If you are re-using the old baseboard first step is to make sure it is cleaned up. The old caulk should come off fairly easily. Scrape the back of the molding with a paint scraper or putty knife, then sand everything where needed. I like to paint the trim before installing it even though it will need to be painted again after it is installed. At a minimum nail into every other stud to pull the molding tight to the wall. The inevitable gaps can be filled with a latex based painter's caulk, I like Alex latex plus.
Use a good gun ($10) that releases the pressure when you let go of the trigger. Cut only a small amount off of the tip so only a little comes out. Then dip a paper towel in some water and smooth out the caulk. Only one wipe per towel! I take two buckets along, one for the water and one for all of the paper towels I am going to use. The latex based caulk cleans up very easy with water and gives a smooth flexible surface. Use painter's putty to fill in the nail holes. Now all you need to do is paint the trim again when the caulk and putty dries, paint right over the caulk.
The old caulk was probably tuff to clean because it was silicone which is difficult to get smooth and seems to be a magnet for dust. It also doesn't hold paint as well as the latex based caulk.
If you are replacing the baseboards consider the MDF trim. It is smoother and easier to cut and paint than wood. It also bends easier and will conform to a bowed wall better than wood. It does however get chipped a lot easier than wood so don't use it in an area where it will get a lot of abuse like around doorways.
When you are removing trim, painted or not, take a utility knife and make a shallow cut where the trim meets the wall. This will break the 'seal' between the trim and the wall where years of paint have glued them together. Sometimes you need to cut deeper especially on the older drywall because the paper wasn't attached as well as the new stuff and it will come right off.
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I do, for jobs that I feel I can't tackle. For everything else I prefer the DIY approach. I suspect that most on this NG feel the same way. As it is, I still help employ the tool sellers and tool manufacturers.

The walls are reasonably straight (nobody's perfect), and all of the baseboards were caulked on installation. Simply nailing the baseboards in place does not provide a smooth, straight line between wall and baseboard if there are imperfections in either.

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That is quite an answer! Thank you. Many of the boards (< 2' long) are happy to stay in place without any form of fastening due to the friction-fit in corners. I'll still probably nail 'em.
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Good advice here. I'd add that I like to use a putty knife to finish off the new caulk. That way you don't have any rounded caulk joints, they're all square.
Try to find an "elastomeric" latex caulk. DAP makes a good brand, sold by HD.
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