View Full Version : Should baseboards be trimmed?

Bruce Page
08-15-2006, 1:01 PM
Were getting ceramic tile laid down at the house. To save a few bucks I agreed to do all the baseboard work (removing & reinstalling) myself. The baseboard is your standard colonial type. Now, Im starting to wonder if I need to trim off the bottom 3/8 or so the part that is normally hidden from view by the carpeting. Would it look funky if I left the boards as is? It would be a heck of a lot of ripping but now would be the time to do it.

What do you think?

Cecil Arnold
08-15-2006, 1:07 PM
Bruce, you had three options on the tile installation, run up to the baseboard, then grout between the BB and tile edge, remove the BB as you chose to do, or use option 1 and install quarter round. Based on what you chose, I would just put the stuff back.

Andy Hoyt
08-15-2006, 2:22 PM
I laid down some ceramic tile in our mudroom, then installed baseboard on top and it looks awkward. I really wish I had done the baseboard first, laid the tile leaving a grout line gap between the two. Then, the grout and paint would have resulted in a much cleaner and professional appearance. I think the grout line would have "framed" the tiles better.

My approach was dictated by no prior experience with tile and I rationalized that the baseboard would hide my crummy job at tile cutting along six wonky walls - none of which were parallel or square to one another.

Joe Pelonio
08-15-2006, 2:47 PM
I'd suggest going to look at some model homes if you have any new developments in your area and see what they have done. When it comes to pricing for resale of a house the realtors will catch things like that and
say that it looks like a "do-it-yourself" if it's not done the standard way.

On the other hand if you are planning to stay there a long time just take
a small piece and a few of the tiles and lay them out both ways to see what looks good to you. I'm inclined to agree with the baseboards installed first and the grout edge, though that will add a slight amount to the cost
for the tilers.

Bruce Page
08-15-2006, 2:52 PM
I felt that grouting around the baseboard would make painting etc, very difficult. I guess I never really thought about just leaving it in, it would have been a lot easier.
I have major rug burn on my knees! :(

Jon Eckels
08-15-2006, 4:04 PM
The problem with putting your baseboard on top of the tile is that you'll see little holes where your grout lines run underneath the baseboard. It's not that noticable if you're working with a large tile - 8x8 or 12x12. But with smaller tiles it's very noticable - with something like 4x4 it just looks silly. Quarter round will result in the same problem.

If you're working with large tiles, you may be able to fill those holes with caulk that matches the color of your grout, if you can find it.

Also - if your subfloor wasn't level, or if the tilers did a poor job of levelling (sp?) the thinset, your tiles may not be laying truly flat either, which will look simply marvelous when you lay down your flat straight baseboard on top. Quarter round could help this situation, but you'll still see holes where the grout lines are.

With the baseboard installed first, you would grout right up the wood and there would be no holes and seamless lines, even if the tiles were uneven.

I've heard of professional tilers trimming around a room with a right angle grinder, with a ceramic wheel on it, to cut out for trims, or to fix mistakes... I'm not sure I would recommend it for the uninitiated though. It might cause more of a problem than you started with.

Nick Zentena
08-15-2006, 4:12 PM
Normal here is tile down. Then baseboard with quarter round. The only time I've ever seen it different is when the baseboard is ceramic to. Then no quarter round

Chris Padilla
08-15-2006, 4:41 PM

I would just scribe all that base moulding to capture all the grout lines and such. Be sure to back bevel for a nice tight fit! :D :p :eek: ;) :D

(I'm now scampering away as you pelt me with your freshly-machined rubberband gatlin gun! :D )

...quarter-round...quarter round...or put it back down...

Matt Meiser
08-15-2006, 5:00 PM
What I will probably personally do in my house is to leave the baseboards in place, install the tile, then trim with 1/4 round. That is how they did the hardwood floor in our foyer and hallway. If I don't do that, the tiled area's baseboard will be taller than the carpet/linoleum/hardwood areas of the house.

Bruce Page
08-15-2006, 7:40 PM
Thanks guys, I'll have to get some 1/4 round and see how it looks. I've never seen it done that way, (never paid that much attention) but it sounds interesting.

I probably should've asked this question before they started laying the tile!

Chris, I'm not talented enough to do as you suggest!!

Wes Bischel
08-15-2006, 8:00 PM
Might I suggest base shoe instead of 1/4 round? I've always thought it looked better and wears better.


Bruce Page
08-15-2006, 8:15 PM
Might I suggest base shoe instead of 1/4 round? I've always thought it looked better and wears better.

Hmmm, I have no idea what base shoe looks like Wes. Is it a common profile?

Cecil Arnold
08-15-2006, 9:15 PM
Bruce, base shoe mold is about 1/4"-3/8" and taller than wide while quarter round is at least 3/4" and really a quarter circle in profile.

Wes Bischel
08-15-2006, 9:22 PM
Oh, sorry - yes it is a standard profile. It's kinda like a truncated 1/4 round. It doesn't project out as far as 1/4 round.

Not a great image, but it makes the point.


Ben Grunow
08-15-2006, 9:28 PM
Bruce- we always put the base on top of the tile and then either install shoe (3/4" tall by 5/8" wide like qtr round but more elegant and better wear) or just leave the base. Sometimes we do scribe the base if the tile is handmade and leaves gaps that are unsightly. I prefer shoe over scribing because the shoe will bend slightly and follow the floor and scribing can look quirky if it is too precise-better to skim over the highs and lows with the fit.

In my experience, if you tile to the base, the joint will always be cracked due to seasonal wood movement. Use a shoe moulding and be sure to nail it to the base board (not down at an angle into the bottom plate of the wall) to keep it tight over time. It is also nice to pre paint the shoe so theres less cutting in for the painter, just touch ups over nail hole filler.

Good luck.

Bruce Page
08-15-2006, 11:01 PM
Thanks for the info. I'll try to find some base shoe and give it a try.

Norman Hitt
08-16-2006, 4:48 PM
Bruce, use ANY of the methods mentioned.....EXCEPT........ using 1/4 round. They used 1/4 around in every room when they built our house, no matter whether there was marble, carpet, seamless flooring or vinyl tiles on the floor, and both the LOML and I have hated it from the moment we moved in. Over the past 28 years we have slowly been eliminating the 1/4 round as we have changed floor coverings, and it looks MUCH BETTER without it.

Chris Padilla
08-16-2006, 6:10 PM

Would it be fair to say you are somewhat biased on your thoughts about quarter-round?! :p I have it only on the kitchen baseboard and it looks fine to me if not a bit beat up...takes a fair amount of abuse in a kitchen!