What Are Baseboards?

Home, Home & Family
on February 27, 2013

It’s likely you’ve overlooked a very important interior design feature in your home. In fact, you may not even know they exist.

What are baseboards? Baseboards are narrow wooden boards running along the base of the wall. They add a finishing look to a room and cover inconsistencies in the wall where it meets the floor. Types of wood used to make baseboards, according to the baseboard resource guide, include the following:

  • Hardwoods—Traditional hardwoods include cherry, oak, maple, mahogany and cedar. Hardwood baseboards are more durable and often easier to stain than other types of baseboards.
  • Softwoods—The main advantage to using baseboards made from softer woods is cost. Pine is the most common soft wood, and if stained properly, pine baseboards are difficult to distinguish from hardwoods.
  • Medium density fiberboards—MDF is technically neither wood nor hardwood. Fiberboard is created from wood fibers formed into a board under heat and pressure. High-quality MDF makes an excellent and less expensive substitute for hardwood boards. Low-quality MDF does not.

How to clean baseboards. There’s a good chance cleaning baseboards isn’t on the top of your regular to-do list. Cleaning them, however, can give a room a nice finishing touch. Routine cleaning can be done with a dust broom, so the next time you’re sweeping the floor, wander over to the walls and give the baseboards a once-over.

How to really clean baseboards. Every now and then, you may want to give the baseboards a thorough cleaning. This can be done with a bucket of warm water, a cloth and dish soap. Start by dipping a clean washcloth into lukewarm water and wiping down the board. This might be enough. If not, fill a bucket with warm water and add a couple squirts of dish soap. Wipe the baseboards again. If that doesn’t do the trick, mix a gallon of water with a quarter cup of vinegar and wipe them down again. You may want to wipe the boards again with clean water to remove residue and then with a dry towel to prevent moisture from damaging the wood.

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