A baseboard is a decorative material designed to cover the joint between the wall surface and the floor. Depending on the size and design, they are usually not taller than half of the wall. They are inconspicuous decorative items; hence, their absence may go unnoticed. However, their presence elevates the overall aesthetic of a room. They give a finishing touch that accentuates the existing design. Usually made of wood, polyvinyl, or polyurethane material, the baseboard market is filled with several baseboards that all claim to be of the highest quality. In order to separate the pretenders from the real contenders, our team of expert reviewers assessed the market to bring you the best baseboards in 2021.
Referred to as skirting in the United Kingdom and wainscoting in Germany, baseboards are building materials primarily designed for interior and exterior aesthetics; they also serve a functional use of protecting the wall from any strike or hit by a hard object or leg. It also protects the wall from rubbing off or abrading by friction. From our review of the best baseboards, you have been introduced to quality baseboards that will provide great value for money. However, settling for a particular product might prove tricky. This buying guide will help you to simplify your choice by pointing you to the factors to look out for and other details about baseboards. The guide also includes a frequently asked questions section.
What are the materials used to make baseboards?
Baseboards are made from different materials; the peculiarities of each material type are discussed below.
MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard)
It is a form of wood made from fibers gotten from the breaking down of different varieties of wood. They are economical and the most widely used baseboard material. MDF exists in different forms such as; ultralight MDF plate (ULDF), moisture resistant board and fire-resistant MDF. However, all these forms fall under the same method of manufacturing of the MDF, which is the mixture of wax and resin binder together with the wood fibers usually in a defibrillator to form panels after subjecting it to high temperature. MDF has a density that ranges from 600-800 Kg/mᶟ depending on the wood type from which it is made. It shapes well, and it is also flexible when we look at weight and workability. It is majorly used for indoor baseboards because of its low resistance to moisture.
These are types of baseboards made from polymers. They are good materials for waterproof and moisture resistance but relatively not economical. Specifically, the polymers used in this process are polyvinyl and polyurethane. Polyurethane is a dense compound that has 100% durability and is waterproof. The polyvinyl baseboard, on the other hand, is perhaps the oldest form of polymer baseboard. It is flexible and also waterproof.
Polyurethane especially has a high density. The waterproof nature of these baseboards makes them suitable baseboards for areas with moisture. So when considering baseboards for exterior use, the PVC baseboards are just the best to settle for.
Oak Wood Baseboard
This is a type of baseboard that is characterized by its texture, color and grain. It is a heavy type of baseboard as a result of the hardness of the wood it is made of. This baseboard type is economical, and it suits the budget of almost everyone. It is a type of baseboard known for its strength, stability and ability to be stained. Its durability is flawless, and it can withstand wear and tear even in harsh climatic conditions. It also has the ability to withstand water and heat, thereby making it suitable for making the electric form of baseboard, which uses heaters. The oak baseboard has a density of 103 Kg/mᶟ.
The pinewood baseboard is a type of baseboard known for its lightness, stiffness, and resistance to shock. This type of pinewood has a light color that makes it easier to stain in order to achieve the desired color. It is also a cheap baseboard – much cheaper than the baseboards made of oak. This baseboard does not shrink nor swell. It is, however, not as strong as the oakwood baseboard. It has a density of 485-560 Kg/mᶟ. It is, therefore, a type of baseboard that suites interior décor mostly.
What are the types of baseboard designs?
Baseboards can be molded or shaped into different sizes and patterns. Depending on the nature of the material, the room’s size and style, and your budget, you can get baseboards in different varieties. A few of the most common baseboard designs are explained below:
The flat baseboard style is a choice for most people that love their baseboard to be light. The flat baseboard is about 3.5 inches in size. It is simple, and it does not give the room a clumsy look due to its lightness.
The flexible baseboard is characterized by its flexibility which makes it easier to cut, sanded and shaped. This style of baseboard reduces the use of screw and nail when installing because its flexibility makes it easier to use adhesives in binding them to the wall and floor. It is a baseboard to be considered when the buyer does not want holes drilled into the wall. The PVC types are generally flexible baseboards.
This is a type of baseboard that is used on the casing of doors and windows especially. They are made for those that desire to give their doors and windows a heavenly look both as an interior and exterior décor. Like the general baseboard, this style can also be used to cover the joint that exists between the wall and the floor.
Except for polymeric baseboards, baseboards generally are wooden materials. This makes it possible to get any required carved design done on it. Carved baseboard styles are simply baseboards that have their woods carved with different inscriptions. This further gives color to the room for those that like design and not the presence of the baseboard alone. Depending on the nature of the design, it may affect the price of the baseboard.
The clamshell baseboards are the types of baseboards that provide a smooth transition from a wall to another. They are majorly made of pinewood, and this wood type’s lightness makes the whole transition thing easier. They can as well be used or installed around the doorway or window like the jointed baseboard.
High-trim Profile Baseboard
This type of baseboard is easily painted to suit any décor or design. It is designed for high heat loss, and its installation is wall-space limited. It is suitable for anyone who desires a baseboard that will help in heat exchange between the wall and the room. If used as an exterior décor, it can, even if not to a significant level, reduce the heat in the room by this process.
The ornate baseboard, which is also known as the Bohemian baseboard, is known for its funky and unconventional style. They can be curved types of baseboard, majorly with a distinctive look in the room. This type of baseboard is suitable for elegant people who want to make a statement with their baseboard – it is big and classy.
How do I choose the right baseboard?
Various factors have to be considered before choosing a baseboard. These factors are discussed below.
The style of your home is the first factor that you should consider when buying a baseboard. The house design will inform your choice of baseboards. If your house is traditional, the flat style type of baseboard will work well with the design. However, if your home is the classical and elegant type, it is best to go for the ornate style baseboard.
In trying to add color and beautification to your room, it is important you don’t over-stretch it so that you won’t end up making everything clumsy and rough. This is why the height of the ceiling matters when installing a baseboard. Generally, it is expected that the height of your baseboard should not exceed 7 percent the height of the ceiling. However, the power to give your room the desired beautification is all yours, but be sure you are using the appropriate height of s baseboard.
This largely depends on where and what the baseboard will be used. Generally, the Medium-Density Fiberboard MDF is the most popular baseboard in use because of its distinct characteristics and one of the most economical baseboards. However, MDF may not be the best option for some who desire to use a baseboard in a moisture environment. Polymeric baseboards are known for their water resistance, making them the best option for a moist environment. Thus, your choice of material should depend on where it is to be used and the purpose it will serve.
How much do baseboards cost?
The price of baseboards is dependent on several factors. The type of material used, the design and the style are some of these factors. The MDF and pine baseboard are generally less expensive, especially when they come in the flat, flexible and jointed style. On average, baseboards cost between $100 to $1,345.
Q: What is the function of a baseboard?
A: Baseboards serve both aesthetic and functional purposes in building design.
Q: Is it okay not to have baseboards?
A: Baseboards are not a necessity. However, when putting the longevity of the wall into consideration, it is important to use baseboards. Not only that, but they also beautify the home.
Q: What do I need to know about baseboard heaters?
A: They are designed to keep the room warm when the need arises.
The Old House Journal Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you restore, repair, update, and decorate your home. The content is created by The Old House Journal Review Team. The Old House Journal editorial staff is not involved. Old House Journal is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.