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Joony 06-30-2008 08:55 PM

Reattaching baseboards?
 
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Greetings all,

So I've decided to pull the old carpet out of my room and finally make good use of the hardwood floors under it by refinishing it.

Anyhow, the baseboards were looking old and nasty, so I decided to remove that and refinish it as well.

While removing the baseboards, some of the nails ripped through the baseboard, while others pulled out with the board.

The question is, I'm not exactly sure what my options are for reattaching the baseboards.

My reasoning is because I think when some nails pulled out of the baseboards, it made a larger guaged hole with the size of the head on the original finishing nail.

And because I'm supposed to nail into the wood studs, I can't nail it elsewhere?

So I just need to use a much thicker guaged finishing nail?

Nestor_Kelebay 07-01-2008 01:39 AM

I seem to be seeing what appear to be 4 inch long finishing nails in that baseboard? Whaafor would anyone do that?

Joony:

You're misunderstanding something here.

Take a look at your picture. That area that was behind your baseboard consists of an upper plaster area and a lower wood area. That lower wood area consists of a fir or spruce 1X3 that's nailed to the bottom plate of the wall. You merely have to nail your baseboard to that 1X3.

Here's what you need to do to fix up that wall:

1. Since you have plaster walls, you may as well learn to repair plaster. Go to any drywall wholesaler and ask to buy a bag of BASE COAT plaster. Personally, I like Domtar's Perlite Admix Hardwall. Also, pick up a bag of a good quality drywall joint compound. I like Synko ProSet 90 Lite Sand in the yellow bag, but if you prefer the convenience of a premix, that's fine too. And, get yourself a gallon or half gallon of white wood glue. Elmer's or LePage's is fine.

2. Dilute A BIT of white wood glue with a bit less water to make it into a paintable consistancy and paint it onto the inside surfaces of that spot to the right of your heating register where the old plaster fell out. You want to paint that glue onto everything you want your new base coat plaster to stick to. You can let that glue dry if you want. Then, mix up some basecoat plaster in a dixie cup or clean tin can and use it to fill that spot. It's OK if the glue is already dry, the moisture of the base coat plaster will reactivate it. Give the base coat plaster a couple of hours to set up (but not dry) and clean it with a damp sponge. This will remove the top surface of it. Keep wiping with a damp sponge until your remove between 1/16 to 1/8 inch or so off the surface of that stiff base coat plaster. Allow the base coat plaster to dry, and then fill in the void you removed with you drywall joint compound. Drywall joint compound will shrink as it dries, so you'll have to apply a second coat to fill in that shrinkage. And, if you're a perfectionist, you'd paint those holes where your finishing nails were with adhesive too, and fill them with drywall joint compound, allow to dry and scrape smooth with a paint scraper or sand smooth with a sanding screen (or sandpaper).

Now you're ready to put up your baseboard.

3. Pull any nails still in your baseboard out. Pull them out through the BACK of the baseboard so that you don't muck up the front of the baseboard. An easy way to do this is to grab onto them with a pair of vice grips, and then use a pry bar or the claws of a claw hammer to pry between the back of the baseboard and the vice grips.

4. Get a supply of the finishing nails you want to use. They only have to be long enough to go through the baseboard and that 1X3. If your baseboard is 3/4 inch thick, get 1 1/2 inch long finishing nails.

5. Phone around to the places that sell fasteners and machine shop supplies to find out who in your area sells NUMBER and LETTER size drill bits. (You'll only need the number sizes because letter size drill bits start with "A" at about 1/4 inch diameter and get larger. A #60 drill bit is about 1/64 of an inch in diameter.) Take a small Cresent wrench and one or two of your finishing nails with you to that place and buy a number size drill bit that's just a little smaller than the diameter of the finishing nail you want to use. Just use your Crescent wrench to close the jaws on both a finishing nail and numbered drill bit held side by side, and the jaws will close on the larger of the two diameters. You want the largest numbered bit that's smaller than your finishing nail, or the next highest number up. That's cuz with numbered bits, the higher the number, the smaller the diameter of the drill bit.
(Alternatively, you could simply use the next smaller size drill bit in your drill set, and hope that it's only a tad bit smaller in diameter than your finishing nails. Standard drill bit sizes increase by 1/64 inch increments, which may be a bit too much if your baseboards are hardwood, but would probably be OK if they're fir. You can get a much closer fit if you take the time to buy a numbered bit, tho, but it is just a matter of judgement which size numbered bit to use to get enough friction that the finishing nails hold well.)

6. Wrap a piece of masking tape around your numbered drill bit 1 1/2 inches away from the end of the bit. Put that bit in your drill and drill through the baseboard into the 1X3 along the bottom of the wall. Stop drilling when the masking tape touches the baseboard. Now, hammer your finishing nails into that predrilled hole.
Because you're using relatively short finish nails, they will have small diameter heads. If it wuz me, and the front of your baseboards are stained and varnished like your floor, then I'd probably just hammer the nails in flush with the wood's surface and rely on the nail head's small size to keep it unnoticable. Some people will set them in deeper with a nail set, fill with putty and then try to stain that putty the same colour as the wood. I know little about that because I don't fill with putty. If your baseboards are painted, then set the nails in deeper and use something to fill those nail sets. I use latex caulk which I dispense into a gluing needle that you can buy at Lee Valley. Fill the holes from the old (longer and larger) finishing nails the same way.
FLUSH with the wood if it's stained and varnished, or use a nail set to set them just below the surface if you intend to fill those nail sets and paint. Some people also set their finish nails deeper than the surface of the wood and fill them with putty.

Hope this helps.

Joony 07-03-2008 01:40 AM

Nestor,

I appreciate your lengthly reply, that was a lot to absorb!

A few comments:

1. The finishing nails are actually only 2.5" long, I suppose my photo was deceiving :jester:

2. If the baseboards only have to be nailed to the 1x3, is there any reason the original installation used two nails, one on the top to go through the plaster and another for the 1x3?

3. Besides making it look nicer, do I really need to patch up the plaster? I mean if it's going to be hidden behind the baseboards, I suppose I could get away with that. Or I could just use joint compound to make it easier than looking for plaster?

4. If I'm reading your bullets 5 and 6 correctly, you're just saying to drill a pilot hole through the baseboard and 1x3, and nail a slightly larger finishing nail?

5. If that's the case, I can nail it wherever I want, and I'm not restricted to making the nail go through the 1x3 and into the studs like the original installation?

I'm going to keep the baseboards and quarter round natural :) No stain, just like the floors! I'm actually planning on finishing it with the Varathane water based semi-gloss floor finish that I'll have left over.

Thanks!

DUDE! 07-03-2008 07:42 AM

definitly not a carpenter here, but my two cents, as for patching the holes, can't hurt and will keep drafts out if walls not insulated, as for nails spaced up and down, sometimes when just nailing on the bottom of the baseboard, the board will not be tight against the wall, leaving a gap on the top of the board. Before putting the board back up, I like to find the location of the studs, either pencil mark the wall or put tape on the floor. As for old nail holes in the board, I always have a hard time matching the wood putty and stain or paint, and usually when I'm done, I can still see the patch.
also, when taking out the old nails, pull them through, don't pound them back out, you're less apt to splinter the wood.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-03-2008 10:33 AM

Joony:

IN response to your quesitons:

#2: No, you don't need to nail to the plaster because those nails won't hold well anyhow. If you want the baseboard to be tight to the wall, you can try to nail into the studs, or, after the baseboard is up, simply use latex caulk on that joint between the baseboard and the wall, wipe the caulk down with a finger and then wipe it down with a sponge. Then tape off the baseboard and paint the caulk the same colour as the wall. That will make it look like there's no joint at all.

#3: No, you don't need to patch that plaster, but if you're starting to do renovations in a house with plaster walls, then I believe it's a good idea to start learning how to repair plaster, and this repair is ideal since it'll be hidden anyway. So, this is a good one to learn on.
I only recommended that since I noticed that you had saved the pieces that fell out and had them on the floor in front of that spot. I presumed you were wondering what to do with that hole.
You CAN fill that big hole with joint compound, but like I say, if you're starting to do DIY stuff in a house with plaster walls, may as well learn to fix plaster properly. Filling that big hole with joint compound is like driving a screw with a hammer or eating spaghetti with a knife. It's just not the right way to do stuff.

#4: Exactly. Instead of trying to find finishing nails that are large enough to fit tightly in the holes made by a drill bit you already have, buy your finish nails and then get a drill bit that's slightly smaller for a tight fit.

#5: Right. Driving nails into plaster to hold a baseboard on is kinda dumb. The nails won't hold well anyway. If you want, you can buy a Stud Sensor to locate your studs, but if it wuz me, I'd just nail into the 1X3. If the baseboard and wall are both flat, you shouldn't end up with much of a gap between them. Besides, who's gonna be pulling on that baseboard?

You might also consider scraping down the paint ridge where the top of the old baseboard was and just using a shorter baseboard which will just cover that joint between the plaster and the 1X3. I really don't see why they used such tall baseboards in old houses.

Allison1888 07-05-2008 11:42 PM

A quick note on the plaster repair -- the best way to learn is to work with a pro for a day. I paid a contractor to teach me how to repair plaster and it was the best money every spent. You learn the right way, they can help you with technique and shortcuts, etc. Whether you want to repair for this project or not -- it's a valuable skill to have.

AtlanticWBConst. 07-06-2008 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
A few comments:

1. The finishing nails are actually only 2.5" long, I suppose my photo was deceiving :jester:

No, photo actually looked right. Standard nail for installing baseboard is 2 -1/2".

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
2. If the baseboards only have to be nailed to the 1x3, is there any reason the original installation used two nails, one on the top to go through the plaster and another for the 1x3?

I would not nail the baseboard to the wood stock that is at the bottom of the plaster. That wood is there as a starter strip edge for the plaster application. It is not there for the purpose of installing the baseboard. You want to install (nail) the base to the studs. Install two nails as you previously noted.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
3. Besides making it look nicer, do I really need to patch up the plaster? I mean if it's going to be hidden behind the baseboards, I suppose I could get away with that. Or I could just use joint compound to make it easier than looking for plaster?

No you do not have to patch the plaster. It will be covered by the baseboard. There is no need to do that unnecessary work.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
4. If I'm reading your bullets 5 and 6 correctly, you're just saying to drill a pilot hole through the baseboard and 1x3, and nail a slightly larger finishing nail?

Any left over nails in your removed baseboard: Use nail puller pliers to pull the nails thru the back side of the baseboard. This leaves no damage to the face of the base.
Install your baseboard using 15g to 16g 2-1/2" finish nails. If you can get a hold of a pnuematic nail gun, it will make the job easier. Nail the baseboard using two nails per stud location. Make sure to mark your stud locations prior to installing the base. You can do this simply by tearing off pieces of masking tape and attaching them to the floor where the studs are located. It will make the job "fly".

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
5. If that's the case, I can nail it wherever I want, and I'm not restricted to making the nail go through the 1x3 and into the studs like the original installation?

As stated, nail only at the stud locations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joony (Post 135604)
I'm going to keep the baseboards and quarter round natural :) No stain, just like the floors! I'm actually planning on finishing it with the Varathane water based semi-gloss floor finish that I'll have left over.


I'm sure that it will all look great. One last point is that you may want to use a good nail filling compound.

Good Luck.

buletbob 07-06-2008 09:11 AM

AlanticWBConstruction
Has it all wrapped up. Good post.

Let me add, that the reason for the two nail per stud is
If you have a 5-1/2" sanitary base it will cup,curl. you must secure it tight against the wall covering.


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