While in your bathroom, look down. That’s probably the only time you will notice your baseboards. But baseboards have an important role to play, and your bathroom would not be the same without them.
Baseboards are also known as floor trim or molding and are boards or planks that run across the bathroom floor. Baseboards come in various materials and styles and can affect the design of a room in many different ways. The purpose of baseboards is to cover joints and the bottom section of a wall.
There are many more details to learn about with baseboards that can set you up for a successful bathroom build, remodel, or renovation.
Check out our comprehensive guide to bathroom baseboards if you want to learn more.
Are Baseboards Necessary in the Bathroom?
There are no building codes stating that you have to use baseboards, so in that sense, they are not necessary.
But there are many benefits to using baseboards, so installing them is usually recommended.
No matter how well your flooring installation went, there are some uneven or crooked ends that flooring professionals usually rely on the baseboard to cover up.
Baseboards protect the lowest portion of your walls from physical damage, water damage, and general dust, dirt, and debris.
Baseboards can also compliment other features of your home like molding, add a stylistic element, and can even increase the property value of your home.
Are Baseboards Waterproof?
The material your baseboard is made of will determine how waterproof it is.
Materials such as PVC and rubber are essentially waterproof without any need for sealant.
However, other materials such as wood and MDF are not waterproof and require some type of sealant or waterproofing when used in the bathroom.
Later we will cover baseboard materials in more depth to help you choose the best material for your bathroom.
What Type of Baseboard to Use in the Bathroom
There are many different types or styles of baseboards. Some of these baseboard types include flat, flexible, stepped, jointed, and carved.
For the most part, the baseboard style you choose will only have cosmetic effects. But each type of baseboard has its own characteristics that go beyond just aesthetics.
Flat or flexible baseboards will generally serve your bathroom best as they have no cracks or crevices for water to get into and are easy to clean.
While looking amazing, jointed, carved, and high trim baseboards are difficult to clean and have many places for water to infiltrate and cause problems.
How to Choose the Best Baseboard Material for a Bathroom
There are two main types of wood baseboards which are pinewood and oakwood.
Pinewood is cheaper than oakwood. While both types of wooden baseboards look fantastic, they are not the best choice for the bathroom.
To look their best, wooden baseboards must be stained. Then to be used in the bathroom, they must be sealed.
But when wood takes on too much water, it expands, which can cause the wood to crack.
MDF is the least expensive baseboard material, so it may be your best choice if you’re on a tight budget.
In addition, MDF baseboards are relatively durable for indoor use and can be found in a wide variety of styles.
Though MDF can be used in the bathroom, it is not the optimal material to use. The main issue with MDF is that it is not waterproof and requires a sealant to be used in the bathroom.
PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is the same material that you often find in your plumbing water lines.
PVC baseboards can be painted but don’t need to be and can be molded into a variety of styles.
PVC is a good choice for the bathroom because this material is naturally waterproof and requires no sealant.
One complaint about PVC is the price, as it is more expensive than both wood and MDF.
Vinyl is a plastic-like material. Vinyl baseboards are used in a variety of settings and are durable while offering many style options.
Vinyl baseboards come in two different types, which are PVC and urethane.
Vinyl PVC baseboards are better for the bathroom than urethane because urethane is water-resistant and not waterproof. The main downside of vinyl is it’s not as visually appealing as other materials.
Most bathrooms have tiled walls and floors, so choosing a tile baseboard makes sense and can create a stunning seamless look.
You will pay for these aesthetics, though, as tile baseboards are one of the most expensive options.
Tile baseboards are a decent choice for the bathroom. While they look amazing and are more water-resistant than most, they require more cleaning and maintenance than other materials.
Rubber baseboards are not a material you usually see in a home or bathroom, but they are a worthwhile option.
Rubber does a great job at waterproofing and insulating making them a good choice for the bathroom.
Rubber costs less than tile but more than vinyl. The main issue with rubber is the aesthetics, as it can make your space look like a hospital or office building.
While not seen often, a stone baseboard is a viable option, especially if you have stone flooring or walls.
Stone has always been a popular choice for bathroom walls and floors, so why not continue this tradition with stone baseboard.
Stone baseboard is suitable for bathrooms because it is waterproof and highly durable. The drawback of stone is it’s expensive, difficult to install, and a hassle to maintain.
Things to Consider When Installing Baseboards in the Bathroom
To get the proportions right, your baseboard height should be based on your ceiling height.
The average ceiling height is around 8 feet. A ceiling of this height needs baseboards that are around 3 to 5 inches high.
A tall ceiling that’s around 12 feet high needs baseboards that are around 6 to 8 inches high.
How Level Is Your Floor?
How level your floor is will have an impact on the installation of your baseboard.
First, use a level to determine if your floor is level. If it is, your installation will go more smoothly.
If your floor is not level, you will have some extra work to do and will have to use a scrap piece of baseboard along with a chalk line to keep your baseboard straight.
Find and Mark Your Wall Studs
Finding and marking your wall studs will make the installation process easier by showing you exactly where to nail or screw in your baseboard.
Wall studs are generally 16 to 24 inches apart. If you have a set of blueprints for your home, you can find them that way.
More commonly people use windows, electrical outlets, or a stud finding device to find and mark them.
Dealing With Corners
Corners can be the most difficult part of a baseboard installation.
Baseboard corners require precise measurements and joining baseboards cut at 45 degrees. If your join connection is too tight, you may need to sand the piece down for a proper fit.
There are specific techniques for both inside and outside corners that you should be aware of.
How to Waterproof Bathroom Baseboards
Tools You Will Need
- Clean Rag or Cloth
- Caulking Gun
- Silicone Caulking
- Clean New Paintbrush
- Plastic Sheeting
Start by preparing your baseboard for waterproofing.
First, make sure your baseboard is clean and free of dust. You can clean your baseboard with a damp cloth then use a dry cloth to ensure your baseboard is not wet.
You can also lay some plastic sheeting on the ground to help with any messes.
2. Caulk Your Baseboard
Use your caulking gun to apply a thin bead of silicone-based caulk at both the top and bottom of the baseboard.
You will have to move the plastic sheeting to get the bottom section. Wait for the caulk to dry before moving onto sealant.
3. Seal Your Baseboard
Put your plastic sheeting back down.
Open your can of sealant and soak the bristles of your paintbrush. You want your paintbrush to be of the same or similar width as your baseboard and not larger.
Use the brush to apply sealant across your entire baseboard.
4. Wait for Everything to Cure
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation given with the sealant you purchased and wait for the sealant to cure.
You should not expose the baseboard to any water until both the caulking and sealant are fully cured.
How to Clean Bathroom Baseboards
Cleaning baseboards is easy.
The issue is they are so low they often require you to get down on your hands and knees. However, you can use a baseboard mop or other similar product to save you from having to bend over.
Baseboards require no special cleaning supplies, and the job can be done using soap and water.
You may need to do some scrubbing to remove any set on stains. Then use a dry cloth or towel to remove the water and any leftover soap residue.
Bathroom Baseboard Design Ideas
Rustic or Reclaimed Wood
You can use reclaimed wood as a bathroom baseboard giving your space a natural cabin in the woods type aesthetic.
You will likely not want to stain the wood as it will lose its rustic appeal. But you will have to seal the wood so that it can be used in your bathroom.
These baseboards look best with wood or imitation wood flooring.
Exact Match Tile Baseboard
You can precisely match a tile baseboard to the tile on your floor for an amazing seamless look.
The installation process to pull off this design idea can be difficult but well worth it. You can even take things further if you have matching tiled walls.
Baseboard Matching Shower Divider or Enclosure
Matching your baseboard to your shower divider can make it seem like your baseboard flows right into your shower divider and out the other side.
This is a great look that gives the appearance that your shower naturally connects to your walls.
Stone Baseboard With Stone Walls
If you have stone walls or flooring in your bathroom, materials like PVC, wood, and vinyl won’t cut it.
Using stone baseboard with the other stone elements in your bathroom further accentuates the natural feel this material brings to your space.
Alternatives to Baseboard in the Bathroom
Reglet trim is a popular alternative for baseboards.
Reglet can only be installed during the construction or renovation process as it goes in before drywall and sits between the floor and wall.
Reglet, while looking amazing, is very expensive to install and requires waterproofing.
Vinyl Wall Base
Vinyl wall base is often found in office buildings and looks similar to rubber baseboard.
While it is lacking in the style department, vinyl wall base makes up for it by being inexpensive, waterproof, and very easy to clean and maintain.
A beadboard is like a giant baseboard that goes about halfway up your wall.
Beadboard is popular in bathrooms because it protects a much larger area of your wall than baseboard.
Beadboard is made of wood or a wood composite and should be sealed for longevity.
The cost of installing baseboards will depend on the material you choose. Low-cost materials like MDF will cost around $3 to $5 a linear foot, mid-grade materials like vinyl or PVC cost about $6 to $8 per linear foot, and high-grade materials like tile or stone cost $17 or more per linear foot.
You can easily paint most baseboard materials like wood, MDF, or PVC. But certain materials like rubber and stone should not be painted over.