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baseboard installation times

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  • baseboard installation times

    I want to ask some questions about baseboard installations and things about the time it takes. I was quite depressed today when I got done and realized that I had installed maybe 50 ft of baseboard in an 8 hour day. But in that 50 ft there were a little over 40 pieces that had to be cut, I believe 8 end returns, 12 coped pieces and the longest piece was something like 36 inches long. Every piece has some angled or mitered cut on them. We were going around cabinets, notching them to sit on top of the transition between tile and hardwood floors and scribing them to the floor.

    We did also fill all nail heads and caulk it to the wall at the end of the day.

    I hear guys who talk about trimming an entire house in a couple of days tops and think how?

    How you figure things like this out is beyond me. Anyone have a formula, maybe counting cuts, maybe copes cost more?

  • #2
    I know a guy that installs base and it takes days to do a good size house with a helper. They do an amazing job and those joints hold up, they glue the joints, very impressive. When I first saw it I thought it was a complete milking of the job. Then I saw the quality. Years later, I built my house, found them and hired them.

    I have also seen it done fast but ok, it just isn't the same job.


    • #3
      No formulas but miles of baseboard installed. I think one key things to do is measure, cut and cope as many pieces as you can at one time. Minimize your trips to the saw but when you're there cut as many pieces as you can. This typically means you measure and write down every measurement you can at one time. I would also cope as many pieces, rights and lefts as there are then cut them to length.
      An old war story. I was superintending a 100 unit assisted living center. We had about a dozen Hispanic trim carpenters. All the units were basically the same. I noticed that they set up their miter saw in the corridor and would measure a piece of base, walk to the saw, cut, cope. install, repeat. I mentioned to the foreman that with a little more organization they could greatly increase their productivity. His response was "we do this all the time and are going as fast as it can be done"
      I offered to prove my point. I asked him to pick his fastest man and I would race him on adjacent units. They laughed but took the challenge. I took several pieces of base into the unit along with a 10 point handsaw, small bench, combo square, coping saw ,hammer and a nail set. The other man was using a nail gun.
      I never left the unit but worked my way right around the rooms, only coming out at the very end to cut the few outside miters. Toward the end of the contest most of the Hispanics were watching the final few pieces. I won the contest and they all clapped !. It wasn't that I was super fast but that I had a system and they didn't. Granted, the base was small and the job not high end but the organization.was the deciding factor.
      In my opinion the key is to develop a system.


      • #4
        Mark, don't feel bad, every one of those corners is a time killer. The last base job I did (140') spanned several days over a few week period due to the issues of dealing with the jatoba (Brazilian cherry), three piece, 9-1/2" high installation. Of course, this was natural finish, so there is no room for mistakes.

        I dadoed and rabbeted each inside junction to lock them together and provide a corner that would not show regardless of any shrinkage that might occur. The job was also made more complex because of an issue with a window sill (10') that the cap of the base had to line up with and provide for a 3/16" reveal at the edge. The base acts as the sill apron but it got very involved. Every cut had to done in the garage, 60 steps away from the living room, another time waster.

        I also did a stain to match the floors and 5 coats of alkyd varnish as supplied by the floor finisher. Sand and vacuum between each coat. A total killer time wise.

        I have seen crews that trimmed houses in a few days but that was all paint grade with a lot of room for "fill".

        No easy answer to your question, every job has its issues but developing a system, as well as could be worked out, as Abelsupe described, is the best you can do in my opinion.


        • #5
          I feel I have a system that is pretty good. I often measure up an entire room at one time. Then head to the saw and cut a bunch of it before heading back to install it. Long pieces or pieces with one miter or cope go pretty well. What I was doing was the last odd pieces with glue on returns, scribed to the floor pieces.

          I guess I was not that far off but it just was crazy to think that I did over 400 feet in 2 days and caulked and filled nails. Then it takes a full day to do 50 feet of the same stuff.


          • #6
            That's why linear footage or square footage is not a good way to estimate anything. A 16ft piece of base only takes a minute more to nail than a 5ft piece. Assuming no scribing to the floor. You have the same number of cuts and copes.


            • #7
              I saw a great pricing method for crown molding here a few years ago and made a note of it. It was simply so much per foot plus so much per corner. I would charge 2x for miters. Are you using a Collins foot?


              • #8
                I had a collins coping foot but never used it enough to really learn how to use it that well.
                My process on most base board that I cope is cut my piece with a 45 degree cut to show me where to cut my board. I then cut the bottom straight cut with the miter saw and then use a hand coping saw to cut the tricky part of the trim. I can do it pretty fast it seems to me.


                • #9
                  That's a good process


                  • #10
                    Mark- I calculate by feet and corners. lineal feet is meaningless for anything but ordering material.
                    Well, and it factors into scribe time.