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I recently bought around 650sft of laminate floors, to replace around 570sft of carpeted floors in our MN home. These will go in on the main floor, right above an unfinished basement.

I'm planning on installing these myself in the next 3 or 4 weeks, and am in the process of getting my act together (I strongly believe that planning is more critical than the actual execution of a project).

Being paranoid about doing an excellent job, I'm debating whether to remove and re-install the existing baseboard molding, or leave the baseboard in place and install quarter-round (or shoe, depending on what looks better) molding after the laminate is laid.

The laminate floor (with its attached pad) is about as tall as the carpet is now, and adjusting for an 1/8" gap in the vertical dimension, the baseboard will stay at the same height.

So, which is better?

  • Don't touch the baseboard, install laminate 1/4" from the baseboard and use quarter-round to cover the gap?
  • Remove baseboard, install laminate, and put the baseboard back.

I'm not averse to doing extra work to make sure this looks as professional as possible.

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It depends on a couple of things. How much time you want to invest, how your current baseboards are installed, size of current baseboards, and what you want everything to look like.

As long as it isn't a HUGE deal to take baseboards out I would almost always go with removing them.

  1. Your finish will look better. No quarter round looks way more professional. Also I hate the process of do you make your quarter round the color of trim or floor - I always vote trim.
  2. It is cheaper. Quarter round costs money. So does staining/painting it.
  3. It saves time. If you have the right tools taking your baseboards out is easy. And when you put them back - well they fit. Try to position your tools so that if you gouge the wall it is hidden under the baseboard. This is easy with practice. Who cares if the drywall has some nicks under the baseboard. Cutting your quarter round to fit will take a lot of time. Also what do you do between a set of doors where you need to put in 10 inches of quarter round? Well you will be back on this board asking!

Take the baseboards out, freshen them up while you are at it, install floor, pop baseboards back. Touch up paint and caulk where needed. Not taking them out starts the job faster but then after your install there will be quarter round regret (because of point #1).

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Just what I was looking for; thanks! I think this is the option I'll go with. And we have stained oak trim (and I was pondering the exact same situation - floor color or trim color and tending toward trim). I think our baseboards are 3" tall and removing them will give me a finish properly painting the wall too. –  alt Aug 5 '13 at 20:44
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If you remove the baseboard, you risk damaging the walls. Installing the laminate with quarter round will be much easier and won't damage the existing walls.

That's the only "better" we can answer. Aesthetically, "better" is wholly subjective. But I I think it'll look just as good either way, so go with easier and less damaging.

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Leaving the baseboards in place will be easier, and may look good (depending on your taste). It may even look "professional", depending on which professionals you ask.

If you don't mind the extra bit of work, removing the base molding and reinstalling it makes the flooring look original.

In my opinion, trim work should be the last thing that's done. Anything on top of trim, just seems out of order.

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