Baseboard Design

Any homeowner worth his/her weight in sawdust already knows that baseboards are a great way to spiff up any room.  And baseboards fit right in with my credo of:  fast, easy, and (can be) cheap.

But how are baseboards designed?  What’s their basic makeup?  And what’s all this about single-piece baseboards vs. built-up baseboards?

Refer to the picture below and to this key here:

Single Piece Baseboard – It’s a single piece, as opposed to a built up baseboard.  You can tell by looking at the top edge of the baseboard.  Some baseboards are constructed of multiple pieces, and the top part is always a separate piece.  This is a single-piece baseboard; a cohesive unit.

Baseboard Profile – The profile is probably the most obvious baseboard design factor.  Here you find two horizontal grooves which will catch the light and create attractive shadows.

Quarter-Round – The quarter round is less baseboard design and more baseboard practicality.  The quarter-round is a separate piece and it covers up the gap between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard.

Gap – Finally, it’s worth noting that another element of baseboard design is that it covers up the gap between the flooring and the wall.  This gap is necessary.

Baseboard Design

Remove Baseboards to Install New Flooring

Before installing new flooring, you’ll need to remove the baseboards.  It’s not as simple as it seems.  While poorly removed baseboards will not necessarily ruin your life, they sure as heck can ruin your walls.  If you have plaster-and-lath walls, you might end up with giant pieces of plaster falling down.  Really.

Why Removing Baseboards Isn’t So Bad

Because you’re installing flooring, you’re also raising the height of the floor.  This means that the baseboards simply get raised another half-inch, inch, or whatever up the wall.

Nail alignment stays the same.  You don’t have to guess where the stud are.  Because the baseboards are moving vertically but not horizontally, the nails will still hit the studs.

And this is the best part.  You’ll first need to score the paint along the top of the baseboard.  This leaves a horrid mess:  a deep gouge in your drywall.  But never fear, layering is here!  Remember, the baseboard is moving up.  So, it will effectively cover up the score marks.  All you need to do is make sure there are no bulges in that scored area to mess up your baseboard.

Remove Baseboards

How to Remove Baseboards

Tools and Materials

  • Pry bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Thin scrap of plywood (1/4″ thick and about 4 inches square)
  • Utility knife
  • Stud finder


  1. Score along the top of the baseboard with the utility knife.  Score several times lightly rather than one heavy pass.
  2. Start at the stud closest to the end of the baseboard.  Locate with a magnetic stud finder.
  3. Lay the wood square on the wall, just above the baseboards.  Make sure square is positioned at a stud.  This is where the nails will be.
  4. Slowly, carefully tap the end of the pry bar into the top of the baseboard and pry back.
  5. If it’s hard to pry back all the way, get it started with the pry bar and continue with the claw hammer.