Installing rustic wood baseboard molding in a new log cabin is simple enough. If you have squared and plumbed the walls and leveled the floors, sawing the baseboards to length and installing them is not rocket science. However, installing trim and molding can be a challenge when renovating an old cabin. Here are some issues you may run into that need special attention:

  • Some corners may not be square.
  • Existing baseboards are set at an angle.
  • A wall may be wavy or not flat.
  • Floors are not level across the entire room.

You never know what you will run into when renovating an older cabin or home. Since you want the wood baseboard molding to look its best, there are some solutions to make this project easier.

Corners Are Not Square

How to Install Rustic Wood Baseboard Molding in a Log CabinThere’s more than one reason why some corners are not square. For one, the house may have settled because the original foundation was inadequate. Perhaps the carpenters were in a hurry or had subpar building skills. Whatever the reason, inside and outside corners that are not square is a common issue. When corners are not 90°, it’s difficult to cut 45° miters.

The Correction: Carefully remove the old baseboards and store them in a safe place. To cut your new rustic baseboards either use an angle finder or test corners with scrap wood. In most cases, it’s easier to cut 45° miters on the ends of two twelve-inch scrap pieces. Since they won’t fit perfectly, recut the pieces at angles slightly more or less than 45 degrees. Keep going with this trial-and-error method until you get it right. Once you get the cuts right, make a note of the miter saw setting for future use.

Old Baseboards Are Tilted

Thin and/or short baseboards may be set at an angle to the wall. It’s obvious they have tilted away from the wall at the top instead of being flat against the wall. You must correct this gap issue when installing replacement molding. This is not usually a problem when baseboards are tall.

The Correction: If you are using narrow or short molding in a carpeted room, don’t put it all the way down to the floor. Doing this gives you more area to nail the molding to the wall and fix the gap.

However, since most log cabins have wood floors, you may need to take a different approach. Thin and narrow baseboards tend to be cut thinner at the bottom. If you nail them in the wrong place, the bottom may fit tight and produce a gap at the top.

The Correction: Shim behind the bottom with thin pieces of scrap wood to keep the baseboards flat against the walls. Shim every few feet for a solid fit. Again, if you use tall wood baseboard molding, this won’t be an issue.

Wavy or Non-flat Walls

This issue easily occurs when some of the original studs were bowed instead of being flat on the sides. This seems to be more apparent with painted drywall. However, even pine paneling or log siding will show wavy walls when you look down them. In this instance, it’s best to adjust your wood baseboard molding rather than overhaul the walls.

The Correction: You have two choices: 1) Let the molding follow the wavy contour of the walls, or 2) Install it in a straight line and fill in the gaps with acrylic latex caulk. Make sure the caulking is paintable and stainable. Cut a small hole in the tube and caulk it a little higher than the baseboard along the entire length. Paint or stain it the next day, and it will look great.

What Do I Do About Rustic Wall Trim If the Floors Are Not Level?

What Do I Do About Rustic Wall Trim If the Floors Are Not Level?When floors are not level, installing rustic baseboards becomes a challenge. A couple of issues occur that can be left alone or corrected including:

  • Will you remove and replace the old floors?
  • Do you want to cover the existing floors with new materials?

Either way, the floor joists or current flooring needs shimming to level.

The Correction: Let’s take the stance that you want to take up and replace the old flooring material. Once you remove the flooring and all the nails, lay a tight string across the joists. This will show where they need leveling. You can shim them if they are in good condition or replace the sagging ones. Either way will work depending on your time frame and budget. Once the floors are level, you can begin to install your rustic baseboards.

Knotty Pine Baseboard and Casing

A great place to order baseboards and all your molding are the WoodWorkers Shoppe. Our wood products are defect free, and every piece is guaranteed. We also mill and sell log siding, paneling, flooring, decking, doors, and many more log cabin products. Call (800) 818-9971 for expert advice and all your building supplies – especially rustic wall trim.