I am wondering how high I should space my baseboard off the floor before carpet. I know the tack strip will go next to the base and then carpet goes over it and tucks under the base.

  • 4
    1/4 to 3/8 is what our carpet guy says, but it depends on the underpad/carpet combo and looks awful if you get it wrong. We always try to do base after carpet. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:30
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate - 1/4" is rather small - maybe some low grade carpet with no padding would fit. 3/8" is what we use for thin carpet (not plush) with a thin pad.
    – DMoore
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 17:50
  • 1
    @Nic In case you're doubting that you should not raise the baseboard here's an example diy.stackexchange.com/questions/87342/…
    – Iggy
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 16:25

8 Answers 8


3/8-5/8" but most 1/2"


  • you have padding and carpet. With a plush carpet and pad you might be at almost an inch or even over.

  • you don't want the tuck to be so tight that it looks like the carpet is being smashed under the baseboards. The carpet should look like it is just flowing under.

  • Note that most floors aren't exactly flat. So make sure you are measuring this gap every few feet so that it doesn't become too big or little.

  • We actually have little wood blocks that we use when setting the baseboards to keep consistency. We knock these out after a room has been nailed.

  • Completely ridiculous to put baseboards in after carpet. If I am doing a complete gut I want the baseboards in, nailed, spackled, and repainted where needed. I don't want paint on new carpet or guys walking around on carpet. We carpet just a day or two before open house.

  • I used pieces of 1/2" drywall. Not the beveled end, obviously. Worked perfect and looks great. Maybe the slightest bit pinched appearance due to thicker carpet. Marking this as an answer in case I need to recall on it on the next build. ;) 1/2" for majority of carpets. Maybe 5/8" if possible for thicker carpets.
    – CCCBuilder
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 15:06
  • I see so many mixed opinions on this which is sure why I see this asked all over the place. Some say 3/8", some say 1/2", some say 3/4", and some say 1" (Home Depot and SFGate). homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-install-baseboard/… homeguides.sfgate.com/… Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 23:23
  • @DMoore, I'd like to see a general rule of thumb rather than a generic height answer. How much do each of those factors (surface, flooring type, total material height) affect the height the baseboards should be installed at? For example: We are planning to install trim in a basement before carpeting. The pad alone is 7/16" to 1/2" and with a pile height of around 1/2". Should we go risk gaps by putting the boards at 1" or should we risk the "tucked" look by putting the boards at 1/2" or 3/4"? Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 23:31

Both ways mentioned above will work but as a 30 year project manager with 15 years in the field. I prefer to install the baseboards first. For one thing I bet you money that the carpet installer will install at least some of the tack strips too close to the wall and when you install the baseboards, it will sit on the strips. Then you will have to take off the baseboards the next time you change carpet... Spray paint your baseboard, back brush it if you want, laydown strips of 3/8" or 7/16" plywood as spacers and set your baseboard on top of that. You will have a great finished product with the least amount of effort. Tip... (don't press down on the baseboard too hard when nailing it or it will be difficult to pull out the plywood spacers). You may have to touch up paint the baseboards after the carpet install but that's the best way... That is why I would back brush it,, so the touch ups wont show. One more thing.. Keep in mind that the only thing going under the baseboard is the carpet. The padding will stop at the tack strip.


The best height for baseboard when carpet is going to be installed is 3/8". Why? Raised base makes it easier for the carpet installer to install ANY thickness of carpet and the edges look better. A thick carpet will tuck nicely along the baseboard and so will a thin low profile carpet such as a berber or thin looped carpet. Many people will change their carpet without repainting or remodeling. If you install baseboards up too high and install a thick carpet then there is no problem. But when you replace the thick carpet with a low profile carpet then the baseboards will be too high. Repairing this situation requires removing the baseboards, reinstalling them lower and then having to repaint (at least) the portion of the wall right above the baseboards.


Do not bother with a laser. its cool to have one but not needed to install baseboard. Using blocks to space the trim up is the way to do it. if there are dips in the floor that you think will be visible in the trim then you have bigger problems. I have never profiled trim to fit carpet. And that's in 40 years of experience. Its a simple question with a simple answer. Put the high tech equipment away. More expensive tools does not mean better work. Here, less is better.


Molding is a decorative finish material, and should be installed as one of the last steps in the construction process. The molding should be installed after the floor covering, and should be adjusted any time the flooring is changed.

Installing base molding before carpet, is like installing window/door casing before the window/door.

When installing the molding, don't simply follow the flooring. If you do, you'll likely end up with wavy uneven molding. Use a laser level to shoot a reference line all the way around the room, then do your best to line the molding up with the line. Keep in mind however, that looking right, is more important than being right. So use the line as a loose guide, not a hard and fast rule. If you have to compensate for minor high spots, do so by removing a small amount of material from the bottom edge of the molding. Longer, more gradual changes in height will be less noticeable to the eye, than sharp, drastic changes.

Finish carpentry is an dying art, being driven to the grave by contractors and builders who put profit before quality. It's your home, take your time and do it right. Take time to enjoy the work, don't simply rush to get it done.


3/8" is a safe, standard gap. If you're using common 3-1/4" or 3-3/4" base trim, use a few scraps of that. It may be 7/16" thick, but that's fine also.

Having a gap allows an extra measure of prevention against gaps in case the carpet shifts at all, and certainly makes life easier for the carpet installer.


Just an FYI, I went with two pieces of 1/4" underlayment glued together. So 1/2" to 9/16" if the glue amounted to anything.

Seems to be perfect amount for quality carpet and pad.

Doors should have been installed more carefully to allow the jambs to be same height as base. It's more uniform look. Still not sure how this is done on carpet to hard wood transitions in those rooms, maybe router out the carpet half of the jamb to make a gap. Door rough openings should be even more than the standard with today's materials. Even $200 interior prehung doors had bowing and twists that I fought to shim to fix.


My local carpet store asked for 1/4" gap, meaning put 1/4" spacers on the floor and then install baseboard. Their reasoning is that thicker carpet can be trimmed if it can't be jammed under, but the other way looks ugly with a gap.

Baseboard first reduces the risk of getting paint or wood filler or any building material on the new carpet. Remember that only carpet goes under the baseboard. The underlay and tack strip both stop short.

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