Choose a baseboard style that complements your home's architecture, suits your design aesthetic, and works with your home's existing millwork. Baseboard trims sport a variety of profiles—plainly rounded ranch-style base molding, Colonial-type trim with a decorative edge, fluted casings, and flat-plank moldings measuring 4-6 inches in height—that ensure there's a molding shape and size for every style.
Inventive configurations and creative baseboard ideas—such as stacking ready-made moldings, expanding a baseboard's presence with cap and shoe moldings, or opting for custom-crafted millwork—create nearly endless possibilities for finishing off the bottom of your walls.
Most home centers sell moldings in a variety of materials and lengths that commonly range from 8 to 12 feet. Architectural molding is a durable, easy-to-handle, lightweight trim crafted of polystyrene or polyurethane that is generally sold in 8-foot lengths. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a lightweight engineered-wood product that comes preprimed, so it's ready for painting. You'll also find baseboard moldings crafted of oak, pine, and hardwood in unfinished, preprimed, stained, and painted finishes.
Plinth blocks, corner blocks, and other specialty trim pieces are available in all materials—these pieces fit into inside corners or around outside corners to accommodate straight lengths of molding, which means you won't have to miter or cope edges. These specialty blocks also let you join trims of different widths and profiles and adapt baseboards to fit around floors that step up or down.
Once you've purchased baseboard moldings, let the materials sit inside your home for a week before finishing and installing the trim. This will give the material time to adjust to temperatures and conditions inside the house.
You'll save time and protect your knees if you completely finish baseboard trim pieces before installing it on the walls. Protect your workplace floor with drop cloths, move in a pair of sawhorses, and set your trim pieces in place so you can stain, prime, and/or paint them all at one time. Once the paint has dried, it's time to install the molding. Here's a look at how to do just that!