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Mold your Character; Upstairs Bathroom Remodel; Part 7

12 January 2010

I don't know if you have this same problem, but our house is full of dinky, tiny base board moldings that are hardly an inch taller than the carpet.  Do you know what I mean?   Here is a picture, complete with dust and junk.

I mean I guess it is nice that I have base moldings at all, it is just a bummer that I can't see them from way up here!  I know I'm tall, but didn't realize I was that tall.  I do have good eyesight... so, I should be able to see the things...

Well, the bathroom was no exception, it too had the dinky, tiny, can't even see 'em base moldings and we just didn't want to fork out the cash $1.50-2.00 a linear foot for new meatier moldings.  Besides, I just knew that when I got used to seeing real base moldings in there, I would want to do it everywhere, and my bank account was getting weak in the knees just thinking about that!

Enter a cheap solution!!! DING! DING! DING!  My aha moment, "What if we gave our moldings a little lift, like high heels for base moldings?"  And the best news, I am about to tell you how...

How to raise up your base moldings

1. Remove all offensively small moldings, and tell them that they need to shape up!  But remove them carefully, as you will be reusing these.  If they have been caulked to the wall and or floor, cut the caulk with a box cutter. Then get your crowbar behind the molding and slowly pry it off the wall.   

2. Clean them up.  With a small chisel or 1 1/2"- putty knife, remove any caulk.  Lightly sand the moldings, and wash them off, so that they are not gunky and yucky.  Make sure they are completely dry before moving to step 3

3. This is where some tools may be required.  This can be done in two ways, I am sorry to say, but the more tools you have the cheaper this is.  I will explain the basic tools first.

Purchase a 1/2" x 2 1/2" or wider MDF board in the length you need to span the room. 
(it is the plain square pre-primed boards, Home Depot has them for $3.82 for an 8' ft long board here)
a hand saw
miter box
wood glue
clamps (optional)
nails and hammer
(move to step 4.)

Purchase a 1/2" x 6 " MDF pre primed board ( in a little more than half the linear feet you need)
Table saw
Miter saw
Wood glue
Clamps (optional)
Nail gun
**the difference with the advanced is that you will rip the 6" molding in half, so that there are 2 -3" wide pieces.  Or, if you have a lot to do buy a 4' x 8' x 1/2" sheet MDF and cut it into 3" + strips, the if you can route a round top edge (to look like mdf below, this step can sanded down by hand)  if using a 4' x 8' sheet, the great part is this can be as cheap as .20 cents a linear foot.

4.  Now, once you both have your long strips of MDF and your molding, you are going to glue them together, with the little molding on top, see image below:

See how the MDf is below the old existing molding.  You can see the difference in wood grain.  When you glue these you can either hold them for a minute or two and lay on a flat surface or you can clamp them.  Keep in mind that you are going to be nailing these in place, and may have to caulk the seam.  In all actuality if it is easier you could install each piece one at a time to the wall, and just put a little glue in the seam when installing.  Caulk the crack if necessary once it is installed.

5. Once the glue is dry, I paint it.  I find it so much easier to paint moldings before installing, in the garage where I can drip to my heart's content and not have to worry about getting paint on my new tile.  (I patch and spot paint after installed)

6. Lastly, all you need to do is miter your corners when reinstalling. If you need a full tutorial on installing them, let me know, and we will do that in the next bathroom.  Here you can see it being reinstalled. Just a few quick nails with the nail gun, or a hammer and nail.  When it is in, you need to caulk lightly the top to the wall and smooth this out, then paint the top.  I have found that if you don't paint the caulk bead or seam, it gets really dusty and is harder to clean off. 

Here is the finished product:

Is this a useful idea?  Let me know.


Treasia Stepp January 12, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Love this idea. Brilliant for thinking of it. We to have the almost invisible baseboard molding in every part of our house. I've never thought of simply raising it up.

Tammy at Tattered and Timeless January 12, 2010 at 9:07 AM  

We live in an older historic home and we do this all the time. When remodeling the molding is so old that it breaks so we work hard keeping the upper - fancier section in tact then just get a 1x8 and put it on top. We don't glue it though- have to try that. We just nail in the 1x8 then nail the top section then caulk. My hubby insists that caulk is his best friend:)
You can also do the same for crown molding.
We have the crown at the ceiling line then come down 6-8 inches down the wall then put a small piece of molding there and paint the whole area bright white. It looks as if it is a big 10 inch molding but - it's not :)

Kendall at Finesse Your Nest January 12, 2010 at 9:23 AM  

OMG, this is such a great project! We have the dinky mouldings too and I would love some nice thick baseboards. I'm definitely putting this on my hit list (maybe we can do it at the same time as the plank flooring, which is HOPEFULLY happening this year!)
The only thing I don't have is the miter saw. Are they really expensive? I wonder if you can rent them from the Depot?
Thanks for sharing!

Matthew January 12, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

That looks awesome. I like how you can buy a sheet and just rip how much you want...customize your moldings. Looks really clean.

Holly January 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

Wow! The finished product is fabulous! You would never know it wasn't original. What a great idea.

Amanda K January 12, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

That is really smart! I will have to tell my hubby about it since he is working on our basement!

Anonymous,  January 12, 2010 at 9:57 AM  

I just found your blog today!!! It is fantastic. I love your remodeling projects, the before and afters. Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration. You have an amazing talent for decorating and a wonderful husband to support and help you. Hmm, may have to show my hubs your blog too.

Thanks again,

Tink January 12, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

That is really clever! I agree - baseboards are WAY too expensive to want to replace willy-nilly! I wish I'd gotten taller ones while I was replacing them already after our house flooded . . . sigh.

The Smith Family January 12, 2010 at 10:20 AM  

Great idea! We did something similar to this in our home. A bit different, though.
Check it out!
Love your blog!

erin, maker of chimes January 12, 2010 at 1:36 PM  

When matching mouldings during our latest remodeling projects we had to do this a lot. Luckily inlaws bought us a nail gun last year for Christmas and so it goes so fast. A little caulk and pretty results.

Colleen @ MuralMaker&More January 12, 2010 at 7:41 PM  

Are you kidding me? what a fan.tas.tic idea. Unfortunately my mouldings have no curvature - plus, we're in a rental, but we could do it anyway, on our own dime.
But this is such a great idea. I have to follow you now!

Phyllis AROUND THE HOUSE January 12, 2010 at 11:59 PM  

I love the fact that you notice baseboards, I had all of ours replaced a few years ago with I think 5 or 6 inch ones that are beautiful and I love them..You would be amazed at how many people never even notice their baseboards..having them replaced by a carpenter is sooooo expensive because unike crown moulding they have to be real wood so they won't dent and get damaged when bumped with feet and vacuum...wow I love the job you did...what a wonderful idea...I am now a follower of yours and i will be back to see more, come for a visit,,,

somedaycrafts January 13, 2010 at 1:05 AM  

What a great idea! i will have to remember this when we decide to take down the lathe and plaster and sheetrock!

Cindy January 13, 2010 at 9:12 AM  

What a great idea~ I will have to show this one to hubby. Thanks so much.

Condo Blues January 13, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

That's brilliant! It really ads character to your formerly tiny and ho hum molding.

Jan @ bobbypinsboardwalk January 13, 2010 at 11:17 AM  

It does make a HUGE difference. I really like the process. Now if only my small baseboards and all the trim in my house wasn't stained, I would be in business. OK -- one room at a time, right? Thank you for linking this great post to the Boardwalk Bragfest.

Diann @ The Thirfty Groove January 13, 2010 at 9:46 PM  

What a great idea and a wonderful tutorial! Base boards can be so expensive but it is such a nice touch. This is a fantastic way to give them a much higher end look without the higher end price! thank you!

Shelbie January 13, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

I'm stunned. I'm glad I found your blog. It's always nice to see a new tutorial on something that I would have never thought of, but is useful. Thanks for the tutorial. It seems like alot of work though. Is it a small bathroom and how long did it take you?

The Crazy Suburban Mom January 14, 2010 at 7:50 AM  

Wow, I would have never thought of this...or tackled it! Im always amazed and the things I stumble on! happy thrifty thursday!

fawnda January 14, 2010 at 11:06 AM  

Great idea... I love a good chunky tall base molding too! Looks great!

Robin January 14, 2010 at 2:52 PM  

Wow! What a great idea, and it's so easy. I love how it looks and can't wait to talk my hubby into letting me do it to my bathroom (half the trim is off already)

Leigh of Bloggeritaville January 14, 2010 at 10:49 PM  

Thanks for linking up to Thrifty Thursday on Tales from Bloggeritaville, this week!

Tales from Bloggeritaville

Threeundertwo January 15, 2010 at 10:16 AM  

Our house used to be full of those dinky moldings. I think that was just the style in the 50's and 60's - blech! We had them all switched out when we redid the floors. Love your solution though!

Andy Porter January 15, 2010 at 6:03 PM  

You are my hero!!! It is so expensive, but I have such a huge desire for bigger molding! Super good idea! Thanks for linking to Poppies at Play!

Shirley January 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

Great point. I live in an 1852 house. Some of the larger moulding is still there but the rooms that they "did over" without even considering the historical architecture; the moulding was lost. I am slowly doing a room at a time.

Proper Prim January 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM  

Oh I am so glad you posted this... I have been holding off replacing my skinny molding because I just couldn't afford to replace it all... what an inexpensive way to bump them up... thanks so much for sharing.

Hugs Deb

Its So Very Cheri January 17, 2010 at 6:24 PM  

That looks fabulous and is going on my fav list for this week.
Did you enter my give-a-way? You should you could win There are only 2 people who have done it so far. (Yes my Google is still messed up.)

Kimm at Reinvented January 17, 2010 at 7:49 PM  

This is a fabulous idea! What a great and inexpensive way to "beef up" the moldings. Thanks for linking up!

Laura January 17, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

I want to do this in our house, we ripped out all the old molding, it was just the plain curved kind for rentals, and yucky. So, we have to buy all new baseboards, but obviously can't afford the tall type. So I was at Depot a while back trying to match up MDF with a baseboard, but all the MDF boards are wider than the baseboards, which would leave us with a sharp square edge just in front of our actually base board that we would be glueing on (which I thought made it look a little hokey). So, did you just caulk the gap, or did you use a router to add detail to make it fit better, or did your moldings just happen to work out width wise, or what? Cause I really want to do this, so that we can buy the cheaper moldings instead of the $2/sq ft nice tall ones! Thanks for your help, and they look great!!!

Dawn January 18, 2010 at 5:59 AM  

Thats amazing! If you had shown us the completed picture first, I would have NEVER guessed how it was done. Thats the sign of a really good work around!

Chari January 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM  


Wow...fabulous idea!!! You know, I have never thought about "beefing up" the baseboards before! I have often seen similar ideas for doing crown moulding. I love, love, LOVE this idea and it really would be so easy to do! Your tutorial was very clear and quite instructional! Thank you, so much for sharing this great idea with all of us today for Sunday Favorites!!! Ohhhh yes, such a beautiful transformation of those little skinny baseboards...love how they turned out!

So happy to have you join in with the fun of Sunday Favorites this week, my friend...thank you!!! Have a wonderful week!!!

Warmest winter wishes,
Chari @Happy To Design

PS...I do apologize at being so late to get by to see your Sunday Favorites post...I had to go out of town yesterday and I'm just now getting to the computer!

Sheri January 18, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

What a great idea!!! I love how you made the baseboards bigger, I'll have to show hubby!

:cottage instincts:: January 22, 2010 at 10:18 PM  

Love love love this idea. I'll be saving it in my 'to do' files :)

Glad you could Mi4M!

Cat January 25, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

I think our house has the exact same tiny molding and I so wish it was taller. Thanks for the step by step I'll be showing my husband in hopes that he will want to do it!

debtkickingmama March 14, 2010 at 4:05 PM  

Wow! Genius idea! We're trying to keep on budget for our remodel, but the skimpy molding (just like yours) was making us sad. Now I have an awesome idea on how to pump up the style without spending a bunch of money. Excellent!

**Amy** March 30, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

Brilliant! I have been wanting to update ours as well! I think i just might do this! Thanks so much for sharing. I found you via tater tots and jello!

Jo - To a Pretty Life April 14, 2010 at 3:20 PM  

That's a great idea! I don't think it would work with ours though...the cheap builders around here use door casing instead of baseboards, which is much thinner and wimpier-looking. But I may just give it a try anyway.

paperkite May 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

Good to know(especially repainting the calk)! If you haven't done it already, I'd love to read a tutorial on how to replace trim after you've taken down off the wall. :)

Also, if you know any secrets on how to match the paint of one piece of trim to another, already installed piece... I'd love to know that too. :D

Remodelaholic May 24, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

I had a question about two things and so I thought I would put the answer up here for everyone;s info!

As far as painting caulk goes it's easy, all you have to do is have to buy paintable caulk!!! It will say on the caulk dispenser if it is paintable. So just make sure you check the label. I usually paint my base a bright white so I buy bright white caulk too. Make sure when you put it on that you smooth out the bead nicely, I have found that a bowl of water and a rag is essential for caulking, I will dip my finger in the water and then run it along the caulk to get a perfectly smooth finish, and believe me I have used at least a ton of caulk in my life.

Do NOT use silicone! The paint will NOT stick to this! The paint will bead up every time, and that is SO frustrating.

My rug was from TJ Maxx.

Hope that helps!


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