How to Measure Base Board Molding Miter Cuts

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An example fo household molding
An example fo household molding (Image: moulding image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com)

Having the right baseboard can change the whole look of a room, and it’s a fairly straightforward and affordable way to improve your home. There are endless styles of baseboard available, so whether you have hardwood floors, carpet or laminate flooring, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a baseboard to your liking. The trouble may come if you plan to install the baseboard yourself, and you can’t figure out how to measure or cut the baseboard.

Things You'll Need

  • Baseboard
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw

Determine whether the miter is an inside or an outside corner. If you are installing baseboard in a square or rectangular room, all four corners will be inside miters. If you are installing baseboard around a kitchen island, all four corners will be outside miters. If it’s an outside corner, it’s an outside miter, and if it’s an inside corner, it’s an inside miter.

Notice that whether the miter is inside or outside, it’s a right angle either way. This means that the miter is 90 degrees. This also means that to make two pieces of molding come together at a 90-degree angle, each piece will require a 45-degree cut where the two pieces come together.

Measure an inside miter by butting your tape measure to one of the walls on the inside corner, and measuring the length of the wall where you want the baseboard to be installed.

Finish measuring the piece by keeping the tape measure butted in the corner and extracting the tape to the end of the section, and write down the number. If you are measuring two inside corners—cut a 45-degree angle on one end of the baseboard with an inside cut. Then, measure on the back of the baseboard, and put a mark on the board where your measurement is. Cut another inside miter at your mark with a 45-degree angle.

Place the cut baseboard on the wall and make sure it fits. If it’s too long, which is usually the case, cut no more than one-eight of an inch off at a time until it fits. If the piece is too short, you probably took an inaccurate measurement, and probably need to get a new piece. You should try to use the old one somewhere else.

Measure outside miters by making a template to help you find the correct measurement. Cut an outside miter with a 45-degree angle on a 5- or 6-inch piece of baseboard.

Hold the template up to the wall and align the inside of the cut on your template with the corner of the wall. Take the measurement by laying your tape measure out to the end of the piece and holding it against the template. Make sure that the butt of the tape measure is opposite from the template because you have to be able to read the tape at the template.

Read your tape measure not at the corner of the wall, but where the long point part of the template hangs past the corner. This is because on outside miters, it’s important to measure the outside of the miter instead of the inside where the corner of the wall actually is.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you come across a piece of baseboard that has an outside miter on both sides, you may need two templates to take the measurement, unless there is already a piece of baseboard installed opposite the piece you are measuring.
  • Installing baseboard requires use of power tools and should be done by a carpenter or contractor.

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