Emily Winters: Bathroom Renovation, Day 12

I may have mentioned last week that the addition of real flooring really made the bathroom come to life and feel finished, but it gets better. I’ve now decided that the addition of the floor trim to the bathroom really makes it feel we’re in the home stretch. As far as finishing touches are concerned, I’m not sure that much can compete with the cleanliness and freshness that brand new trim can.

I liken it to the magic glue between the fresh paint and the fresh floor, and this trim, I made myself, which means that the resulting emotion around its completion is that much sweeter.

Sanding and installing new trim.

Read all about the progress we made on Day 12, and learn some handy tips on finishing off any room with DIY trim.

The decision to add baseboard trim at this point in the renovation was a strategic one:

1. It’s hard to reach behind that toilet with a nail gun and/or a paint brush once it’s all hooked up, wax seal and all.

2. The vanity I selected from Ikea doesn’t rest directly on the floor; it sits on metal legs about 8″ off the tile, meaning that unlike my last vanity, you’ll be able to see beneath it and if the trim stopped on either side of the vanity, it’d be very obvious.

3. Even though I was nowhere near ready to install window trim, the new door trim was going to intersect the baseboards, and that needed to be done first and foremost.

Who ever would have thought that door trim needed to come before toilet and vanity? Not this girl.

The baseboard trim throughout my house happens to be very tall along the floor, and very wide around the windows and doors (I have many original lath and plaster walls). This heavier trim a feature of the house that I still really like; built in the 1940′s, the house does have some nice architectural details that many modern constructions don’t, and the lack of economy-style moulding is one of those details. For consistency, I had decided that even though the bathroom was drywalled, I still wanted to make the room flow with the rest of the house, so the decision to plan for wide window trim and tall baseboards was something I adopted early.

Fortunately, the door trim was easy: You’re going to want to read this to understand why I did what I did in terms of design for the trim (and see some pictures of other trim in my house), but I kept it really simple by framing the edge of the doorway with 1×6 boards, and lap jointing the piece that runs along the top to extend the whole width. The visible seams and nail gun holes were patched with wood filler.

Installing the trim around the door.

We ran pieces of pine corner guard moulding up along the top and left edges to finish it (the right edge butts right up to the wall), and although the addition of this moulding cost just under $2/linear foot, it was well worth the investment to make it match the other doors in the house, some of which you can see when you look right out of the bathroom. When it was done and painted (a tutorial you’ll see further down), it looked really nice:

Door trim, installed.

Door trim meets floor trim.

When it came to the baseboard trim, it was a good thing I had put in some hours practicing how to route, cut, and install baseboard moulding in my home office, because while totally DIY-able, the angles and mechanics of it does require me to use a little pocket of my brain that doesn’t seem to be challenged all that often (I’m no pro-carpenter or contractor, but I am pretty good at spacial organization and maximizing how much can fit into the dishwasher in a single load, high-five).

Let’s venture through this install together.

The materials and tools used on Day 12 for Bathroom Trim included:

  • Dual-bevel compound miter saw. None of these cuts were done by hand.
  • Drill with 1/8″ drill bit
  • Hammer (and/or an air compressor and nail gun if you own them)
  • Nails (I used 4″ finishing nails and 1-1/4″ headless cut brad nails)
  • Painter’s caulk
  • Baseboard and base shoe (obviously)
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint

I had bought 1×8 boards to serve as the tall baseboard trim (#2 variety for cost efficiencies, but with as few knots as possible, and as straight as I could find). At the same time, I also bought some finishing base shoe to serve as added detail around the perimeter of the room (the wooden stainable variety runs at about $.59/linear foot, and I prefer it over the paintable vinyl variety because as wood, it just feels and looks more hearty than the vinyl, even when painted. Planning beforehand, I had measured the wall lengths carefully ahead of time and bought only the lengths I needed to minimize scrap and eliminate the need to have two sections making up one wall length (I wanted nice fluid, smooth lines in my trim, nothing patchwork-y, just a lesson learned from when I did my practice install in the first time in the office). This meant that I brought home one 1x8x10′ board, one 1x8x8′ board, and two 1x8x6′ boards, as well as the the same lengths in base shoe, so I was only buying the footage that I needed.

Before I installed, I routed what would be the top outward facing edge of each board to round it off. I did a whole tutorial on why and how I made those precision cuts right here, and again, it was a step I was taking to make sure it matched the trim in the rest of my house. Even though I was working with simple lumber, the simple act of just rounding off the edge of the board really look it from looking like a store-bought piece of wood to a more finished piece of trim.

Routing trim.

Baseboard trim.

After routing, I also primed the exposed face of each board, just because it was easier to roll primer on while they laid flat instead of using a brush on the wall after it was installed. I didn’t paint it at this point, only because I wanted it installed, patched, and caulked before the finishing coats of paint went on.

Like with the trim in the office, when it came to actually cutting the boards to length for installation, I found it highly imperative to cut boards for only one wall at a time, dryfitting each piece together as I went. Because there was detailing in the routed edge of each board, doing lapped joints for simplicity wasn’t an option, but it was well worth the extra patience to make each board meet in the corners at 45-degree angles. Fortunately for me, the room was square, and the pieces fit together quite easily.

Baseboard trim.

Tips: Do not write down all of the measurements and trying to cut multiple pieces at once. Do not trust your memory on which angles the boards needed to be mitered at, the brain does crazy things. At least mine does. There were z-e-r-o errors when I took my time measuring and running to the basement to cut one board at a time. By really visualizing what I was doing, the end-result turned out beautifully. Even though in this next picture they aren’t nailed in or caulked, you can tell how simply they fit together. (And side note: that piece of trim that sits on top of the pipe encasement was customized so that it sits flush on top of the metal, you’ll see a better picture of how that fits further down the post.)

Baseboard trim.

As I finished cutting all of the tall baseboards, I dry-fit them into place on the wall and began to secure them with the 4″ finishing nails directly into the studs (thank you, new stud finder). I found it easiest to pre-drill through the trim itself close to the top of each board, and then hammer the nail into the stud through that pre-drilled hole. I also used a nail set to sink the nail a little bit (between 1/16″-1/8″) to hide it completely. Just a few nails in each board pulled the board and the wall together very quickly, and with all of the boards attached, I patched each hole with a little wood filler and left it to dry.

Baseboard trim installation.

Moving on to install the base shoe, I planned and cut my trim the same way as I had the tall boards. It really went pretty quickly, each piece matching up in the corners perfectly. I used a nail gun with 1-1/4″ brad nails to secure it to the taller baseboard (I’m doubtful that those nails are holding the wall tightly in any way, given that the drywall didn’t run all the way tight to the floor, but it’s not like we’re going to be stepping on them or prying at them at all now that they’re installed). The nails were deploying from the gun with enough pressure to make them sink in the wood just a little bit, and like with the tall baseboard, I was able to quickly patch the holes with wood filler.

Baseboard trim, base shoe installation.

With the caulking gun, I went around the room quickly and sealed 1) the seam between the wall and the tall baseboard, 2) each corner, 3) the seam between the tall board and the base shoe, 4) all seams in the new door trim. A good trick to smoothing out a lumpy caulking application, is to dampen your finger and run it along all of the caulked seams while its still maleable; I didn’t waste my time with taping and caulking between the lines of painter’s tape like I see in many tutorials these days, I was just careful, and reminded myself that it was paintable so touch-ups would be acceptable. It was mine to mess up, fortunately it looks awesome, very sealed, and very smooth.

After waiting a few hours to let everything cure, I was able to sand down areas that had been patched with wood filler and begin applying paint. I chose a straight-out-of-the-can semi-gloss white, the same exact can that we used to paint the ceiling (it’s all about cost efficiencies). Working my way around the room, I taped along the floor to make sure I wouldn’t paint the tiles when I was focused on coating the base shoe. I was able to cut into every edge with ease (although you’re always laying at an awkward angle), and after two coats, it was looking spiffy.

Baseboard trim happiness!

Nice baseboards!

Around that corner nearing the tub, Pete routed the edge that meets the subway tile. Good thinking, really spiffy. He gets all the credit for that one.

Finished baseboard trim.

In fact, it was so done, that we were able to reinstall the toilet that same night. #woohoo

Toilet installation, a happy moment.

The only thing to really note about the toilet installation, is that I did buy a jumbo wax ring to hopefully create the best seal possible, as well as a new bolt and gasket set because our old one seemed a little deteriorated (good thing it was only $5, much less expensive to repair than buying a new toilet!).

Toilet installation with a little upgrade.

As far as I’m concerned, installing a toilet is a two-person job between the lifting and aligning the bolts and squishing the wax ring down evenly. It’s the best looking toilet I’ve ever seen. And I’m suddenly feeling weird about showing it to you because toilets are so, ahem, personal.

Finished toilet, lovely trim.

But the toilet is in. And if you’ve been following the series, you’d know I was really, really tired of using the cold, freestanding toilet in the corner of the basement.

From this perspective, you’d think it was just about completely finished.

Finished toilet, lovely trim.

A good day 12. A more good Day 13 will be coming at you next week. I can’t believe we’re almost done!

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

35 Responses

  1. Since, I had to wait for long to be able to have a home of my own, so I decided to decorate it tastefully, and choose the expensive faucets, and installed the best accessories, as per my budget, which made me feel deeply satisfied and contended.

  2. adriene z says:

    i've been wanting to spruce up my vintage bathroom – and I think it needs a nice base trim – I think this will look great in my 1920s bath.

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  12. Gerard says:


    Can you add to this blog and explain how you attached the floor moulding at the base of your tub? I'm in a similar situation due to a gap between a preexisting tile floor and a new tub.


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  15. Ernest.. says:

    or get some Spray paint crome look.

  16. Ernest. says:

    1 thing if i can add is to paint the copper pipe white.

  17. Candice says:

    This looks good. I am starting on a master bath remodle with about the same budget $1,000 – $1,200. Do you have any advice for me? I have found the hardest thing to do is pick out the roman tub filler and matching facuets and shower head. They have some nice stuff out there.

  18. Mrs. Marks says:

    Beautiful…..what's the budget again?….amazing

    • emily says:

      $1,200 – $1,500. GULP, there were lots of extra plumbing expenses, I'm definitely hovering around the higher of the two numbers.

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  20. Ken says:

    I noticed you didn't caulk between the shoe trim and the floor. Worried about water?

    • emily says:

      Nope. We caulked the life out of it with the same bathroom/kitchen caulk that we used on the tub, and so far, haven't even seen any water dripping over the edge at all.

      • Ken says:

        Great! Didn't see it in the photos, but should have figured that you guys were on the details….

        • emily says:

          There are all kinds of things I wish I had thought to include about the process in hindsight! If you have any other specific questions, please do ask – I can gather them and possibly do a follow-up post about whatever I'm able to answer.

  21. kelly galbraith says:

    nice, but looking at the toilet placement( the smoothness is off), with the floor to ceiling bulk head?would have been cleaner to bring it to the tub. will provide a shelf in the tub/shower area. what do you think
    Oh, and how costly is it to put in a walkout,? from a basement. Some say that it is VERY expensive.

    • emily says:

      The bulkhead was something that was built in during the last renovation; the previous homeowners built over the lath and plaster in the entire room, re-framing all of it except for that space behind the toilet. We can only guess it's because they didn't want to move the major plumbing, so it was built to suit. It doesn't bother me, even though it makes the toilet seem off center.

      I have no idea about a walkout from the basement – I assume anything effecting the foundation is going to be astronomically outside of my DIY know-how or budget. Sorry that I can't be of any help!

    • emily says:

      Also, a second thought about why we didn't make the wall match to eliminate the bulkhead: It doesn't line up with the tub back wall so it would have meant reframing out that faucet wall of the tub which also means we would have have to move the wall at the other end of the tub. That one little visual inefficiency would have meant a LOT of extra work but not for a lot of reward as I saw it.

  22. Mark says:

    Look'n Good!!

  23. Cait@HernandoHouse says:

    I am skilled in the art of Dishwasher Cramming as well. I got my skillz from my mom. High five! (I'm also pretty good with judging the size Pyrex I'll need for leftovers. I think those are sort of related.)

    Your bathroom is looking so great! And YAY for not having to continue to use the cold, basement toilet!!!

  24. Jess @ JParisDesigns says:

    wow it looks so clean and fresh! nice work :)

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About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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