On Fri, 19 Sep 2003 15:40:54 +0000 (UTC), firstname.lastname@example.org
(Kelly E Jones) wrote:
Mitering rather than coping the baseboard is a cheap way of going
about things but might not be considered "wrong".
If the guy was hired as the low bidder and there's no specs written
into the contract you may not have much of an argument. You would
have a right to complain about the quality of the mitered joints.
A first rate coping job takes a little bit of thought. I usually run
my squared end pieces on the most viewed wall of the room and then run
the coped pieces onto these. This way, if the wood contracts too
much, the crack line will not be as obvious to those using the room.
I also usually run a three piece base. The baseboard is most often a
one by six and this gets butted. The cap can be one of several kinds
of profile and it is coped. The cap can follow the dips and dives of
the wall better than a solid base can. The bottom is usually a shoe
or quarter round molding and this is also coped. The baseboard should
be back primed and should be applied 'belly out', so that the top and
bottom edge of the baseboard contacts the wall solidly.
Another thing to consider in running baseboard is the kind of nailing
that you have. I always check the stud layout and make sure that I
have good nailing. Too many guys use the air nailer and simply oppose
the angles of the nails - but too many of the nails are in the wall
covering rather than the studs. The baseboard should be nailed
through the top edge, so that the cap will cover the nails. It should
be nailed at the bottom so that the shoe or quarter round will cover
the nail but the nails should not be on the same stud, in order to
reduce the possibility of cracking the baseboard during dry spells.
The shoe or quarter round should be nailed to the floor so that the
baseboard can expand and contract behind it without cracking.
However, if you have a hardwood floor, you must angle the nail so that
it does not penetrate the flooring.
Also, the inside corners often have to be scraped out in order for the
baseboard to get tight into the corner. Drywall guys often leave the
inside corners with too much mud in them and, if the situation is not
corrected, there will be gaps that allow for more wood movement than
the joint can tolerate.
The outside corners may have to be tuned up as well. Less skilled
drywall finishers will leave a hollowed area from the point of the
metal corner to the un-mudded field of the wall. This will create a
On runs greater than the length of the molding available (usually over
sixteen feet) the joints should be mitered, glued and pinned. The
outside miters should be glued and pinned. If the guy tells you that
end grain gluing doesn't hold up, go on to the next guy. The glue is
used to slow down the absorbtion of moisture into the endgrain. The
inside joints have glue applied to the end grain for the same reason.
If the trim is pre-finished, you might want to ask how many different
colors of putty will be used to fill the nail holes. If the guy looks
at you funny, or says "one", go on to the next guy. I use a minimum
of three putty colors on a clear finished job.
You can see that a mechanic who takes all of this into consideration
is going to take a lot longer to do the job than a run and gun sort of
guy. That translates into more money.
On those rare occasions that I am called out on a competitive bid, I
show the customer my specs and ask that everybody else bid to those
specs. That sometimes chases off the lowballers.
Tom Watson - Woodworker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
That's one helluva writeup on how to cope joints. I've saved this, as
I'll be attempting to add molding in our (old) house at some point in
the (hopefully sort of)near future.
Your post here is a prime example of how this newsgroup can be (and
often is) one of the best resources on the net for woodworking
Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
This is great advice Tom. I took a course at the local college last year on
baseboards and I did learn a few things but you just taught me way more in a
60 second write-up. It's just to bad you didn't put it the form of one of
your humorous stories - I get a kick out of those. I still go back and read
that one about the Ryobi portable table saw once in a while for a good
Thanks for the advice and instruction.
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