Carpet wall base serves as a soft, low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood trim or vinyl cove base in the home. Made from strips of carpet, this base is installed along the bottom of the walls around the entire perimeter of the room to finish off a carpeted floor. Carpet wall base offers easy installation compared to wood trim, and requires many of the same tools and techniques required for vinyl base installation.
Sizing Carpet Base
Carpet base comes in a range of sizes, from 2 to 6 inches or more. For new installations, consider visual appeal and personal preference when choosing base. For renovation work, many contractors select base that's slightly taller than the existing base to hide wall damage that occurs when removing and replacing the base. For example, using 4-1/2 inch carpet base serves as an effective method of replacing standard 3-1/2 or 4 inch base without refinishing and repainting the walls. When buying carpet base, always buy about 10 percent more than you plan to use, just as you would with carpet and other types of flooring.
The type of adhesive and the brand of carpet base you use determines where the material can be applied. Film adhesive tapes used for carpet base installation can typically be installed over any surface, from drywall to concrete. Johnsonite, a carpet wall base manufacturer, cautions homeowners against installing carpet base over paint, wallpaper and other finishes. Never install carpet base over existing vinyl cove or other types of bases. Instead, slip a putty knife behind the base and carefully pull it away from the wall. Use your knife to scrape away any remaining adhesive before proceeding with installation. Wipe walls a final time to remove dirt, dust and other contaminants before attempting wall base installation.
Cutting Carpet Base
Cutting carpet base requires only a sharp utility knife or a pair of heavy scissors. When you come to an inside corner, measure and cut the base to end at the corner, then cut a new piece to start at the adjacent wall. Outside corners may require some shaving to fit, similar to the technique used with vinyl base. Measure your carpet base and score it along the back where you plan to wrap it around an outside corner. Fold the base in half so that the backing is facing out, then use a sharp utility knife to carefully shave a small groove around the scored line. When you install the base on the corner, this groove allows it to fit snugly to the wall. You may have to use extra adhesive to hold these outside corners in place.
Before installing carpet base, refer to the manufacturers recommendations to determine the correct adhesive for the job. Some carpet base features built-in adhesive, so all you have to do is peel away the protective backing and stick the base to the wall. If a separate adhesive is required, use a 1/8-inch, square-notch trowel to spread the adhesive so that 80 percent of the back of the base is covered. Avoid applying adhesive to the top 1/4 inch to keep adhesive from oozing out onto the wall after installation. Some non-porous wall surfaces may require you to apply adhesive to both the wall and the base. Use small finishing nails to secure the end of the base as needed.
If bits of adhesive ooze out of the top of the base, use a damp cloth to wipe them away before they dry. Remove dried adhesive using a clean rag dipped in mineral spirits.
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