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Install Baseboards Before Or After Carpet?





Your home remodeling job is almost done.  It’s been almost a year since you started and you can hardly believe that the project is almost complete.  You’ve had your kitchen entirely rebuilt, new hard flooring installed throughout the house, and your walls now proudly sport a new layer of paint.  More importantly you did the job correctly.  Carpet should nearly always be the last thing that you install.  Fresh paint splotches on new carpet is a nightmare.  Removing grout from carpet is no picnic either.

So it’s time for the new carpet to go in.  There’s only one question remaining.  Do you install the new baseboards before or after the carpet?  Depending upon who you ask, you’ll receive a different opinion every time.

Carpet installation companies tend to prefer that you have the baseboards set up ahead of time.  This is because when installing the baseboards after carpet installation, they tend to wedge the carpet in between the tack strips and baseboards like a vice.  This means that if the installation company needs to re-stretch the carpet at a later date, they may need to loosen some of the baseboards in order to pull the carpet up.  Obviously, carpet installers prefer the method requiring the least amount of labor.

There are three main ways to install new baseboards.  The first is to install the baseboards flush to the subfloor prior to carpet installation.  This could result in a tight fit based upon how close to the wall the tack strips are placed (normally the old tack strips are not replaced when installing new carpet).  Keep in mind that having the baseboards pre-installed may result in scuffing during carpet installation.

The second method, one which many carpet installers recommend is to pre-install the baseboards raised above the subfloor anywhere from 3/8” to ½” based upon the thickness of the carpet and padding to be installed (be sure to measure).  If done correctly the carpet will be tucked underneath the baseboard resulting in a professional looking finish.  Again, this method may result in scuffing of the baseboards during carpet installation.

The third method is to install the baseboards after the carpet has been stretched in.   Some people prefer this method because the baseboards won’t be scuffed during installation.  The carpet will be tucked snugly underneath the baseboards resulting in a very professional looking installation.  As noted above, some installers prefer that you not use this method because if the carpet should need to be re-stretched or replaced for any reason, they may need to remove the baseboards first.

Before choosing one of the three methods listed above, please consult a professional.  We suggest seeking the advice of both your carpet salesman and the company that will be installing your carpet.  Based upon which style of carpet you select, one method may be more desirable than another.  If you choose to pre-install your baseboards be sure to keep some paint on hand for touch up.  Most installers are very careful not to scuff the baseboards, but a scratch here and there is inevitable.