Which goes on first: baseboards or floor?

wi-sailorgirlNovember 10, 2010

We're installing a floating floor in our bedrooms. Our GC insists that the baseboards are supposed to go on first, but that makes no sense to me as it seems like it would be much easier to put them on after the floor (so you wouldn't have to account for the raised height of the floor).

Thoughts?

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texasredhead

These floating floors need about a half inch around the perimeter of the room to allow for expansion. Typically the baseboard is installed over the top of the floor after the flooring is installed to hide the expansion strip.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 8:59AM
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katsmah

I've put down two floating floors, pergo and wood and the baseboard gets installed at the end to hide the expansion strip.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 9:17AM
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wi-sailorgirl

Thanks to both of you ... confirming what I was thinking.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 9:42AM
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staceyneil

Don't put in the baseboards first!!! That's how it was done originally in our home and now that we're renovating it's a major PITA to try to get them out without wrecking the flooring. We have to carefully and tediously slice them with a Fyn tool. Ugh.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 12:58PM
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muskymojo

That is why it should take more than $150 and a weekend of your time to become a GC! Not to offend GCs. I'm one too, but seriously...my grandma could become one if she wanted too...seriously

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 5:51AM
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wi-sailorgirl

Well I have no problem with my GC, who has been in the business for, well, a lot longer than I've been alive probably.

I talked to him about it again and he's just sensitive about the floors because we've been busting their butts about being nice to the floors throughout this whole project and I think he was hoping to finish everything but the shoe molding in the bedrooms so he wouldn't be walking on the floors at all. I'm not worried about it. They seem to be tough as nails and we'll cover them a bit when we're done.

Anyway, thanks all!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:00AM
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clg7067

It's better to do the floor first, but some installers leave existing baseboards and add a quarter-round moulding to hide the expansion gap.

This is why I'm installing my floating floor myself.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:57AM
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rbfranklin

In new construction it is normal for the baseboards to go on before the floor goes in, I think mostly because that is simply the order in which it is done. The floors are usually last.

It you don't want gaps between the baseboard and the floor, put the floor in first.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 9:10PM
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worthy

In new construction it is normal for the baseboards to go on before the floor goes in

That's absolutely the way I do it on new houses. I give the trim carpenter samples of the flooring that is going in so he can leave space for the flooring to slip under the baseboards. It works out nice and tight and I use only 1/8 rounds, sometimes none at all to close the gap.

On renos I tend to do it the other way as there is so much random settling of the floors.

(BTW, a builder's licence here costs $3,000 and a several hour exam.)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:07PM
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worthy

Followup: I should add that my reason for putting in the bb first is to minimize damage to the finished floors from the trim carpenters working on top of them.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:08PM
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brickeyee

"The baseboard will cover gap, but the floor will still expand and contract imperceptibly with temperature changes."

It is not temperature changes but humidity changes that make wood floors expand and contract.

A floating floor acts as a single large piece of wood, and the movement can be rather large, even with cross grain construction.

A strip hardwood floor has only one edge of each strip fastened, and the other edge is free to move with humidity.
This is why the gaps between strips are normally larger during heating season (low humidity) and close up nearly completely during cooling season (high humidity).

Each board moves a small fraction of an inch, so the movement is spread over the entire floor.

Boards do not appreciably change length, just width and thickness.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 5:24PM
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It would only be damage if you plan to nail it on the floor.

I was referring to the unintentional scratches, scrapes and dings incurred when trades are walking, dragging equipment and dropping things on top of new wood floors.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 7:01PM
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