A baseboard is an attractive and useful part of many homes’ interior decorating. It covers up the joint between the wall and the floor, making it easier to clean the floor and easier on the eyes as well. Baseboards can be a simple cut piece of wood that is painted or stained, or a more elaborate, carved piece.
When choosing what type of wood you should use for your baseboard, you should consider a variety of factors. Because of where you live, some woods with different moisture content are better suited for the climate. Certain types of wood may also be harder to come by or, as a result, they may be more expensive. The hardness of the wood and whether or not you wish to use paints or stains can also come into play. And lastly, price is always a factor, especially when you are laying down several feet of baseboard.
But don’t worry. Because there are so many things to think about when it comes to picking out wood for your baseboard, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you make the right decision.
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Paint or Stain?
Whether you plan on painting or varnishing/staining your baseboard, you should be sure to pick the right type of wood for the job. If you plan on painting your baseboard, you don’t necessarily need an expensive wood. The paint will cover up the grain and color of the wood. Plus, if the baseboard is scratched or dented, you can simply fill in the damaged area as best you can and paint over it. Using a soft wood like pine or fir would work best for a painted baseboard. But keep in mind, painted baseboards could clash with stained/varnished window or door trim, and vice-versa. Also, if you plan on painting your solid wood baseboard, be sure to prime and seal any knots present in the wood. Otherwise, the knots might show through in the final product.
Another option for painted baseboards is using pressed wood or medium density fiberwood. Pressed wood is made by mixing sawdust, wood fibers, and chemical bonding agents which are all heated and pressed into shape. This option is not as durable as even the softer solid wood options, but it is a cheaper option. If you decide to use pressed wood, it is advisable to prime the baseboard and then paint it with a hi-gloss paint. Just remember that pressed wood has no natural grain, making it look less natural, and so it may not satisfy the taste of every homeowner.
If you wish to stain your baseboard, you may have to do a little more trial and error to find the color and sheen that you like the best. But the time and effort are well worth it. Solid wood baseboards with a visible wood grain and the right stain can add boatloads of personality to your home and give it a natural, welcoming feeling and look. When you are staining a baseboard, you should try different colors of stains and different clear coats and varnishes. Comparing samples of different types of wood in this way can help you find the perfect match. If your room already has stained window trimmings, door trimmings, or a stained hardwood floor, matching the stain and wood grain in your baseboard can create a beautiful, synchronized look. Hardwoods like oak, cherry, cedar, mahogany, or maple will often be a great match for hardwood flooring.
Hardwood or Softwood?
There are certain advantages to using hardwoods or softwoods in general, as well as using different woods in particular. Soft woods are very useful for painting. They are not as durable as hardwoods but, as mentioned before, they are easier to repair. Pine or fir are the most common types of softwoods used for baseboards. Pine is a clear wood that often has several knots. Pine is often sold in longer strips that are made up of jointed, smaller boards. Pine is easy to work with, good for painting, and the lighter options are good for different types of stains as well.
Hardwoods are, as their name suggests, much more durable. They can be used confidently in high-traffic areas of the home. Poplar is an inexpensive hardwood that is very easy to work with and is good for painting. Cherry and Walnut run more on the expensive side. Cherry is easy to work with and has a rich, attractive natural color. Walnut is naturally very dark in color, and it is a very durable wood option. Hardwoods of more middling price include oak and maple. Oak is very durable and comes in a variety of colors and grains, making it great for different stains and varnishes. Maple is also a very durable and dense wood, and it has a naturally lighter color.
Mahogany, hemlock, basswood, and cedar are also used for baseboards, although they are not as common as these other woods.
Your local home supply store will likely have a variety of woods, paints, and stains that you can use for making your baseboard. Some companies offer their baseboard installations in a wide variety of woods, offering many different looks using different stains and paints. Whatever style or design you are looking for, we hope that you now have an idea of what works best for you. Now go and have fun turning your house into a home!