Baseboards - Stain or Cut First?

Old 03-09-07, 11:15 AM
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Baseboards - Stain or Cut First?

Hi everyone! I just stumbled on this website and I love it. Such a good resource for home projects especially for rookies like me.

I'm redoing all of my baseboards in my livig room. I have hardwood floors, so I dont have any carpet concerns and I painted the walls already. I pulled the old baseboards off, which originally I was going to try and restore, but some of the last ones I pulled off ended up cracking, so now I'm redoing them completely.

I bought about 11- 8' pieces of oak baseboard. I will be staining them but my question is....should I cut my pieces and then stain them? or do I stain the entire 8' piece and then cut them?

For me it made more sense to cut the piece and then stain it because if you cut after staining, then you ruin your stain job and you will have to resand everything. After thinking about it though, staining the entire piece makes sense because you want everything to look the same.

I know this probably sounds like a stupid question to most of you, but I truly am a novice at all this stuff.
Old 03-09-07, 11:32 AM
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Either way will work, but there are certainly benefits to staining AND finish coating all the trim off-site (in your garage or shop) before it is cut to length.

When installing baseboard, you rarely have any cuts that would require you to stain a bare end that has been freshly cut. Inside corners are mitered or coped, outside corners are always mitered. Baseboard usually butts into casing at door openings, so none of those cuts would leave bare, unstained wood showing- but if for some reason the base must be terminated, it is returned to the wall with a 45 and a small endcap return (rather than cutting it square and having a bare end to stain).

Since you have wood floors, if you are using baseshoe around the bottom of the base, that's usually pretty easy to cut to fit, then number as to the location, stain and finish it off-site, then install it once it's ready.

You can install it and then stain and finish it on the wall, but then you have a lot of masking to do, laying out of drop cloths, you have to be careful not to spill or splatter, and you have the odor inside the house to deal with which really drives homeowners nuts anymore it seems. Not to mention dust or cat/dog hair that can blow into your wet varnish or poly... that's always nice.

I prefer installing trim that is already stained and varnished. It's also easier to prep and sand the trim on a workbench instead of waiting to sand it after it's been cut and installed on the wall!

One other advantage to staining it before it is cut and installed is that you can try to color match the trim, so that you don't end up putting a reddish piece right next to a brownish piece, or a piece of quarter sawn next to a piece of plain sawed lumber. It's always easier to match after it's been stained.
Old 03-09-07, 11:36 AM
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Welcome to the diy forums!

I prefer to stain and apply the first coat of poly or sanding sealer [if using varnish] before the trim is nailed up. I've never had any problems touching up the stain after it's installed/cut. Because the wood is sealed, only the raw areas will take the stain.

Not all carpenters agree with this but I think their main objection is it is harder to see a pencil mark on stained/sealed wood.
Old 03-09-07, 12:07 PM
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Thank you so much. I truly appreciate the help.
Old 03-11-07, 02:24 PM
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Kegman keep in mind that wall and corners are not always square. If you apply finished moldings I'd recommend that the cut edges be stained as you cut them.
This process can be done whether you stain and finish the moldings ahead of time or not.
It is much easier to stain and finish the moldings before cutting and application. Setting the raw woodwork on sawhorses or on a table top makes staining, sanding and finishing a much more pleasurable task rather than scooting around the floor on your knees.
Additionally, finishing the moldings while off the wall allows you to paint the wall without a large amount of tape off.
While applying the finish to your molding remember to allow each coat to dry thoroughly, sand between coats with no coarser than 220 grit, clean really well between coats and apply thin even coats of finish.

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