Back in the old days, the big trees were a dime a dozen, and big wide baseboards were the rule rather than the exception. Today, wide planks are more rare, and therefore more expensive. And so you find most modern trim is small, often undersized for the rooms it’s used in. What can you do?
You might mill your own wide baseboard, or get it from a specialized manufacturer at a high cost, but there’s another way.
By combining two or more styles of mass-produced trim or finish-grade lumber, you can create any number of styles for your baseboards (and your door casing and your window trim).
First, look at the room itself, and decide what sort of style works. The larger the room, the larger and more elaborate the trim you can use. Spark your imagination by checking out wide baseboards in older homes, pictures in magazines and the profiles of various mass produced trims. Then, get out the drawing pad, and rough out some ideas.
It’s a good idea to start with a base of plain finish lumber, such as 1×6 pine, and then layer on various profiles. Experiment and work with profiles that fit together seamlessly, but show off definitive shadow lines.
Since the various pieces of trim may shrink at different rates, don’t nail each piece independently to the wall. Create the finished baseboard by gluing or nailing the various pieces together, and then nail the finished component to the wall. Or begin by nailing your plain base piece to the wall, and then nail additional moldings to the base. Avoid butt joints between two pieces of trim where possible. Moldings that are notched (such as chair rails) provide an overlap which makes for a good joint.