When it comes to installing baseboard in a home that will include carpet the baseboard is generally installed before the carpet. This is because the baseboard is held off the floor a distance that is dependent on the type of carpet and padding being used so that the installer can tuck the carpet under the baseboard and snug onto the top of the back strips.
Most carpet installations are between 1/2-inch and 1-inch for the finished product once the padding and everything has been included. Baseboards for the average setting are installed 1/4-inch off the rough floor. You can generally slide a piece of 1/4-inch scrap under the edges of the baseboard when you are installing them to keep things uniform and spaced out for the carpet.
If you are installing a type of carpet that requires extra padding or a special kind of padding underneath it you will want to adjust the height of the baseboard off the rough plywood floor prior to the installation of the carpet. You need to tuck the carpet under the edge of the baseboard to stick on top of the tack strips, with the baseboard low enough that it forces the carpet down and holds it in place. You want at least 1/4-inch of tucking action.
Padding isn’t the only concern when it comes to the height of the baseboard. The thickness of the carpet should be included in the estimate for baseboard height, plus you can check the compression of the carpet by pressing a piece of baseboard against it to see how much it will tuck before it becomes difficult to work with.
Your desire for a finished look can change things. While most installers prefer a minimum of 1/4-inch tuck for their baseboards (that is, the baseboard is low enough that it forces you to tuck at least 1/4-inch of material underneath the edges onto the top of the tack strips), you can adjust this as you see fit if you prefer a different look. However, remember that baseboard not only hides the termination of carpet but also acts as a type of holder keeping the carpet on top of the tack strip.
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