Buying baseboard trim is not as easy as it might seem, for a first time shopper. Perhaps you just had some carpet laid down, or you installed laminate flooring. The baseboard trim is like the icing on the cake and it will nicely tie in the wall to the floor and hide the ugly "seam" in between. A room full of fancy picture frames, ornate venetian mirrors or fancy wallpaper borders will need an appropriately matching baseboard style. A plainer room, such as "finished" basement can get away with much simpler baseboard styles. The following contains some experienced tips to help you if you are planning on shopping for some baseboard trim.
When shopping for baseboard at your local hardware store or perhaps a Home Depot, it's important to note that the trim typically comes in three types. Firstly, there will be the nice one piece solid wood trim lengths, such as oak or pine. A cheaper alternative is the finger jointed wood construct type. Lastly we have the MDF fiber board baseboard.
The solid wood "one piece" baseboard, having the smooth attractive grain, is meant for a stained or clear coat finish. This is the most expensive and you would not want to waste it by painting it. The finger jointed wood baseboard is made from many pieces, or scraps of wood that are finely joined together to make a solid baseboard piece. These are meant for having a painted finish as the finger jointed design is not at all attractive if left unpainted.
Comparable in cost to the finger jointed variety, there is the medium density fiberboard type, which is made from sawdust like wood chips all glued together. This is the only kind that comes with a white primer painted on the surface, ready for paint.
There are many design styles to choose from and the boards also come in many lengths. The style choice is up to the buyer, of course, and you will typically see the plain thin baseboard, always being the cheapest option. From there the styles range in thicknesses and height. Generally a smaller baseboard will also be a thicker baseboard, but not always. When choosing the baseboard thickness, consider what you may need to cover on the floor. If it's a plain "edge to edge" clean vinyl flooring install, you may opt for a thinner baseboard. If you had some hardwood flooring installed, however, which requires a 1/4 "or more expansion space at the walls, consider getting a 5/8" thick baseboard or greater.
A typical baseboard piece will come in an 8 'or 10' length, and sometimes these boards can be purchased in bundle packs of 8 or 10 pieces at a significant cost savings. These bundles may not be located on the same racks as the rest of the baseboard on display in your local store. It may be worth it to look around or ask an attendant. If you are serious about saving money on your trim purchase, and you are not too picky about styling, consider the bundled value packs.
Often a room will have an extremely long wall with no breaks, such as a baseboard heater or a door. Often an installer will not wish to use two base pieces to complete the run, and be faced with creating an unattractive "join." For this reason they sell the "double length" baseboard pieces in most styles. If you can not fit the longer length baseboard pieces in your vehicle, or they do not have the longer length boards in your chosen style, its not the end of the world. Joining the two boards at a 45 degree angle will help make the join look more attractive. Also, consider having the join behind a piece of furniture, when you plan the layout, such as a bed, or couch, etc.
Ideally you will shop for the casing pieces at the same time. Not only does the door trim casing need to be installed first, but most baseboard has a matching casing cousin design. Even if your casing is not a perfect match, ensure that casing is thicker than your baseboard. The baseboard will butt up against the door trim casing and create an attractive finish only when the casing is thicker.
So, baseboard shopping is not the most difficult process on earth, but there are a few things to consider that can save you money, headaches, and extremely end with a better quality finish.