Flush Baseboard: A Perfect Compliment to Flush Outlets

Flush Baseboard: the FLUSHTEK Detail Guide
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Flush Baseboard is quickly becoming one of the most popular treatments in residential construction and renovation - and with good reason! Rooms with flush baseboards have a feeling of uncluttered calm, and an air of simplified elegance.  Creating atmospheres like these is part of the FLUSHTEK ethos, which is why our blog post this week is dedicated to the flush baseboard detail.  Read on below!
 
Flush baseboard detail in a contemporary California modern home
Flush Baseboards are becoming increasingly popular for residences.
It's craft-centric simplicity at its finest, creating a refined and established feel.
 

Flush Baseboard Approaches and Details

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Single-Layer Sheetrock Details:e We've broken down the flush baseboard detail into a few different groups based on how their installed.  By far the most common installation is using a single layer of sheetrock above, with the base substituting for the wall enclosure at the bottom of the wall.  Have a look at the two details below from BUILD Architects and Designers:

Applied Baseboard Detail from Build
Flush Baseboard Detail from Build

Now one can clearly see the flush baseboard is substituting for the Sheetrock in enclosing the walls.  This is probably the most common method for installing this detail, and we've found the master Matt Risinger to have the best explanation.  The video is in the post, but we've also broken it down into bullets for convenience.

  • After framing, hang a level strip of plywood at the height of your baseboard + reveal (5 1/2" base + 1/2" reveal = top of plywood strip at 6" above finish floor level)
  • Boardmen then hang sheetrock resting right on the strip all around the room
  • After the rock is hung, remove the plywood strip and mud-in a J-bead (most recommend this product from Trimtex)
  • Install flooring (and PROTECT IT!)
  • Dado/Rabbet out the back of your base to accept the flange of the bead if required, then install base directly to the studs, scribing it to the floor as required

In subsequent videos, we've seen Matt provide plywood blocking behind the baseboard.  This is a smart move, as it helps provide attachment points for the base, while also improving the S.T.C. (Sound Transmission Class) of the wall assembly.  This is probably the biggest issue with the single-layer sheetrock style details: the sound transmission through the wall will be greater.  This is due to two factors.  First wood is not as effective as drywall in preventing sound transmission.  Second, compared to an applied base wall, this wall assembly has a large joint between the drywall and base, which act like a conduit for sound passing from room to room.

Flush Baseboard on Stair

Double-Layer Sheetrock Details: One doesn't see it featured much online, however double-layered Sheetrock installation is surprisingly common in high-end luxury homes.  This is for multiple factors:

  • Multiple layers give the wall a better S.T.C
  • Multiple layers help prevent cracking of large expanses of decorative plasterwork
  • Multiple layers simplify the installation of a flush baseboard

This is truly the superior detail, which is why the wealthy often opt to pay the extra money to have it installed as such.

Flush Baseboard Detail Option   Trimtex Flush Baseboard Detail   Tektrim Flush baseboard Detail
Extruded Aluminum Details: The final detail we're going to highlight is the use of extruded aluminum in place of wood to form the baseboard.  There are a variety of products on the market, all with the goal to make the installation of a flush base easier and more accessible. However, those of you who paid attention above may already see the issue with these hollow minimal bases.  Aluminum is a terrible sound isolator, especially when it's only around 1/8" thick.  This leaves the wall extremely vulnerable to sound transmission.  This aside, we also wonder about the potential for these trims to be irreperably damaged during construction or occupancy.  Unlike wood, which can be touched up and even sanded to erase joints, these aluminum profiles will really highlight any mistakes made.  As any metal worker will tell you, it can be very difficult to get two pieces of metal to align flush, and I'd expect that many of these flush baseboard systems would be plagued by misalignment at the seams.  Either way, this option may appeal to some, so we've provided links below to a few systems online.

 

FLUSHTEK Flush Base Notes

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Flush Base Brian Dillard

 Dry Creek House by Brian Dillard Architecture

 

Flush Baseboard, Flush Outlet: Despite our team's undying enthusiasm about the flush baseboards, this blog post has been difficult to write.  So many beautiful rooms, so many well-crafted interiors; yet, NONE with flush outlets in the base!  All of this work and it feels like some stopped one step short of perfection!  We know, we know...FLUSHTEK wasn't invented yet and Trufig or Bocci outlets cost a fortune; but it still hurts to see!  Expanding on this theme, we've written an entire post dedicated to the design, legality, and installation of Baseboard Outlets. Other than that, we did want to end this post with some thoughts about Flush Baseboards in general.

  • 1/2" reveal between base and sheetrock is TOO LARGE!
    • We've seen this a lot in our research, and although it's still nice we really think it should be 3/8" maximum.  This is part of the reason we chose Matt's video above.  He built it well and did not settle for an oversized reveal.
  • Utilize blocking between studs when possible to mitigate sound transfer between rooms
  • Use FLUSHTEK to take your design to its highest potential.  No applied base, no applied outlets; just beautiful smooth walls.  The links below will show you the way!
  • Check out this links from "Drywall Talk" to get a bit more information on how the Pros approach this detail
Flush baseboard without Flush Outlet

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