Installing the baseboards to the wall is an important stage that can change the whole look of your home.
It may appear that you’ll need an expert to pull this off, but no need to worry because you can do this right even if you don’t own a nail gun or aren’t a professional.
Here’s how to nail baseboards with a hammer and get the same professional finish that can completely transform your house.
Step By Step Guide
Step 1: Plan it All Out
A little bit of preparation before you start installing the baseboards can go a long way.
Decide on what kind of baseboards you want. If you are planning to start from the ground up, decide on the height and thickness you would like for your baseboards.
It is recommended that you opt for a baseboard height of a minimum of 6 inches which is ½ to ¾ inches thick.
You can finish the look with separate or matching crowns based on your aesthetic.
Don’t forget to have a rough estimate of how much baseboard material you will require.
You can calculate this by measuring all the straight sections of the walls of your house. Round up your measurements to the nearest even foot, which means that it should be divisible by two
Step 2: Mark the Walls
Now that you have planned it all out, your supplies are on hand; get ready to do some foundation work for your project. In this step, you will be measuring and marking both the baseboard and the walls.
Begin by measuring out your baseboards and cutting them according to your requirements. Don’t forget to keep the baseboards that meet outside the corners a few inches longer than the length of the wall.
This is a great pro tip because you can easily adjust the fittings with a miter saw later.
Now you need to mark each baseboard with a number, write the same number on the wall where the baseboard is supposed to be installed.
Using this organization method will eliminate any chances of mistakes or confusion once you start installing the baseboards.
Another thing that you need to be aware of is the placement of studs in the walls. Mark them as well, as you will be using them as a firm base for nailing.
A simple hint that can help you is that once you find one stud, others will be located 16 inches on the center, so you can use a tape measure to locate them with ease.
Step 3: Determine the Baseboard Height and Mark-It on the Wall
To check if the floor is level, place a 4-foot level next to the wall. If not, drag the level across the floor until it reaches its shallowest position at about this point; use a nail to affix a leftover length of baseboard to the wall.
Make lateral markings every few feet at identical levels on the walls throughout the house, using the top of this baseboard piece as a guide.
To illustrate where the top edge of all the baseboards should rest after they’re placed, draw a chalk line around the perimeter of the building.
The correct way to do this is by holding the first board against the wall, leveling it, and tacking it in place with a nail or two.
Once that is done, position your compass points to cover the vertical distance between the chalk line and one of the top corners of the board.
Step 4: Measure and Mark for Tight Fittings
Hold the pencil on the baseboard with the point on the floor without altering the spread of the compass’s legs. Slide the compass down the floor along the length of the board, keeping the points vertically aligned.
Cut alongside the scribe line with a circular saw set to a 2- to 5-degree bevel, with the face of the cut towards the wall.
Beveling the bottom edge of the board makes scribe-fitting considerably simpler, and you can do this by using a block plane, trim the beveled edge to the line.
When you replace the scribed baseboard on the wall, its top edge should match up with the chalk line you drew in the previous steps.
Step 5: Nail the Baseboards to the Wall
Now that you have laid down all the prep work, it’s time to get to the main part, which is probably the most straightforward step in the whole process.
Install the scribed baseboard in the correct position.
Next, hammer two 8d finish nails into the board at a slight angle in the downward direction at the top and bottom edges at each stud site.
To prevent damaging the wood, push the nail heads slightly below the surface with the help of a nail set.
Step 6: Label the Outside Corner Joints
Align each end of the board neatly against the inside edge (or lining), and at the other end, create a longitudinal line up the backside of the board, guiding the pencil with the edge of the outside corner.
Line the top of the board to indicate the miter direction.
Take away the indicated board and position the one that will form the other half of the miter against the neighboring wall. Mark this board in the same manner mentioned above.
Step 7: Cut the Outside Corner Joints
My suggestion is to cut next to the line that marks the joint this way; adjustments are flexible so you can get it as tight as possible.
Cut each miter just outside the line with a compound miter saw set to 45 degrees. This allows the joint to be fine-tuned.
Examine the junction by repositioning both boards against the wall.
If the wood isn’t tight on the sides and top, go back to the saw or get a block plane and trim it until it is.
Step 8: Make the Biscuit Slots
Connect the two parts of an outside miter joint with glue and Number 10 compressed-wood biscuits to ensure a snug fit.
First, position the two boards closely against the outer corner and make two pencil marks across the joint. The markings should be equally spaced from one another and the board’s edges.
Afterward, retrieve the boards, align the biscuit joiner perpendicular to the cut face, and adjust the fence depth so that the cut is closer to the rear side of the boards.
Related: Best Nail Guns For Fencing
Plunge-cut a slot into the face of the cut after aligning the tool’s centerline with a mark. Repeat the process at the following mark.
Step 9: Assembly
Apply carpenter’s glue into all of the slots and across the face of each miter cut in half.
Secondly, insert a biscuit into each slot on one board and connect the two boards. Replace the boards on the wall and secure them with two 8d finish nails on each side of the miter.
Drive a 4d finish nail through the joint and into the end grain of the opposing piece between these nails. Nailheads should be tapped below the wood surface using a nail set.
Make a scarf junction where two boards meet on a straight line by mitering the ends in opposite directions at a stud. Glue and overlap the miters, then nail into the stud through the piece that covers the junction.
Be sure that you don’t make the mistake of nailing it through the joint itself. Butt the baseboard ends together and nail them to the wall for inside corners.
Step 10: Hammer the Cap Moldings
While utilizing a cap molding, check to verify that the rear of the molding fits tightly against the wall. Use an 8d nail driven at a downward angle into the thicker sections of the molding to secure it at each stud.
In case there are gaps behind the molding but no studs to nail into, dab a bead of construction glue on the underside of the molding and attach it to the studs as described above.
The molding should next be nailed to the wall between the studs to keep it in place while the glue dries.
Step 11: Sanding
To eliminate any sharp edges, gently smooth all of the mitered corners using fine sandpaper.
The sanding process is straightforward; all you have to do is select fine-grit sandpaper and rub it against the wooden surface for an even and smooth surface.
The baseboard trim is now prepared and ready to be painted.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best size nail for a trim?
The smallest finish nails that can be used to fasten baseboard trim (and other comparable trim pieces) are 2′′. However, for the greatest results, using 2.5” (8d), 15 to 18 gauge finish nails are recommended.
Should I glue or nail baseboards?
Both methods may be employed, but using hammer results in a more firm job of fastening the baseboards to the wall, resulting in a more attractive end product.
Can I hammer nails into trim?
Hammering baseboards and trims is a very effective and reliable way of installing trim work.
Can you use brad nails without a gun?
Using a nail gun isn’t necessary. You can complete the project with just a hammer.
How do you install molding without a nail gun?
You can use glue or a hammer to install the molding.
Should I glue or nail baseboards?
While using glue is more convenient, nailing baseboards prove to be more reliable.
Even with their inconspicuous location on the floor, baseboards are a defining feature of the property. Therefore, it is pertinent to install them correctly.
I hope this tutorial was helpful in learning how to nail baseboards with a hammer to achieve that polished look.