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How to End Baseboard at Stairs? – Top 3 Helpful Methods

Written by Rosanne Jones /

Fact-checked by Steven D. Carrico

how to end baseboard at stairs

Baseboards are essential to protect your walls from dust, water splashes, and scratches caused by shoes. However, many people tend to struggle with the end trim, especially moldings at stairs, which makes installing baseboards a more challenging task.

So, how to end baseboard at stairs? Knowing the correct way to do so is crucial; otherwise, your baseboard may end up looking like a botched job. If you’re also having difficulties with how to cut trim for stairs, allow us to help you.

What to Prepare

No matter what methods you use to end baseboard around stairs, you’ll need to prepare the tools below for a successful job.

  • Miter saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear muff
  • Pencil
  • Combination square
  • Glue or Miter bond
  • Tape (for the second method)

Method 1: Using a baseboard return.

staircase-baseboards

When you need to end a stair baseboard molding, my go-to recommendation would be to use a baseboard return. By adhering two 45-degree trims together, you’ll form a beautiful square baseboard.

Step 1: Determine where you need to cut

Although you mostly will rely on the protractor on the saw to make the cut, it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful. Marking where the saw needs to go will drastically reduce the risk of a botched job.

  • Lay the staircase baseboards flush against the wall and make a mark on the trim where you want it to end.
  • Place the baseboard onto the saw bed with its molding top away from you.
  • From the mark, draw a line to make a 45° angle with the trim’s edges. In this step, you should use a combination square to ensure your measurements are correct.

Step 2: Make the first cut

modern-stair-baseboard

Before you start sawing away the baseboard, make sure to have your safety glasses on. Those with sensitive hearing may also want to equip ear muffs for safety.

  • With the miter saw protractor, set the saw blade to a 45° angle. Double-check to see if the sharp edge aligns with the previously drawn line.
  • Place your hand on the baseboard at least 6 inches from the blade. Note that this is where your hand should stay for the entire cutting duration.
  • Mount the saw guide onto the blade – this will provide further protection for your fingers.
  • Turn on the saw and cut the baseboard according to the marked line.
  • Turn off the engine once the two pieces are completely separate. Wait for the blade to stop entirely before moving it out of the way and reaching for the cut baseboards.

In this case, the smaller piece serves no use – you can throw it away.

Step 3: Cut the baseboard trim end cap

To make the dead end baseboard molding, you’ll need to prepare a return piece. If the trim is long enough, you can do so by cutting its other end. Otherwise, it’s better to grab a piece of spare baseboard to create the end cap.

  • Turn the blade to the opposite side, but make sure that it’s still at a 45° angle.
  • Start sawing away at the baseboard. Remember to follow the previously mentioned safety precautions. Afterward, immediately set the saw blade to 0 degree in case you forget.
  • Flip and position the baseboard as if you’re laying it against the wall. Make sure the longer end is below the shorter end.
  • Hold the trim tight with your fingers at least 6 inches away from the blade, and make a vertical cut straight down from the short edge. In other words, the cut should create a triangle with two 45° angles – this will be the baseboard trim end cap.
  • Note that the third and fourth steps above are only necessary if you’re using one baseboard piece instead of two.

Step 4: Adhere the filler end to the baseboard

If you follow all the steps above correctly, you don’t have to worry about mismatched baseboards – they should fit perfectly. Glue the two pieces together with Miter bond, and you’re done.

Method 2: Closing off the baseboard with a self-return

stair-baseboard-molding

Another favorite way of mine to end a modern stair baseboard is sealing off the cut edge with a self-return piece. Similar to the method above, it’ll create a finished and professional look.

Step 1: Cut the end trim

Before you start, make sure to mark where your baseboard ends. This will eliminate any guesswork and guarantee your cut’s accuracy.

  • Place your saw blade in a 45° bevel.
  • Lay the baseboard flat on the saw bed with the molding top away from you.
  • Power on the engine and make the cut according to the marked line.
  • The resulting piece should have a tapered end – this will be where you place the trim cap. The smaller piece will be your waste piece. If it’s larger than 6 inches, you can use it for the next step. Otherwise, find another scrap piece instead.

Step 2: Prepare the trim cap

Whatever baseboard piece you’re using to make the trim cap, you need to place it in a reversed position compared to the first piece you’ve just cut. In other words, instead of its top, it’s the baseboard’s bottom that should be away from you.

  • Keep the blade as it is, and lay the baseboard flat on the saw bed.
  • Double-check whether the blade will cut from the baseboard’s outer edge.
  • Start the blade and saw the baseboard. The piece that falls out will be your end cap.

Step 3: Glue everything together

At this point, all you have to do is glue the return to the end trim. You can use masking tape to keep the two pieces in place as you wait for the glue to dry. Once the two pieces adhere to each other, you can remove the tape and call it a day.

Method 3: Cut the Trim for a Square Baseboard Return

Among the three methods, this one is the easiest. So if you’re not confident in your skills for a seamless stair skirt transition, this approach may be for you. However, note that the result will not look professional.

In addition to the tools mentioned above, you’ll need to prepare some paint with the same color as your board trim.

  • Swing the saw blade to 0 degree on the protractor.
  • Bring the blade down and cut the baseboard where it needs to end.
  • Paint the cut edge to conceal its exposed grain. This will make the amateurish cut less noticeable.

Helpful Tips/FAQs

baseboards-on-stairs

What is the baseboard along stairs called?

The long baseboards on stairs that run diagonally from the top of the steps to the floor can be referred to as the stair skirt or skirting board. This kind of trim is usually seen in stairs that are installed flush against the walls to prevent dust build-up.

If you can’t come up with any baseboard transition ideas, the skirting board can come to your rescue. As the stair skirt is an unbroken trim that doesn’t require individual molding, you won’t have to worry about how to transition from one baseboard to another.

How do you transition baseboards downstairs?

For seamless baseboard stairs trim transition, check out the tips below:

  • Measure and calculate the stairsteps’ height and angles. This will help you determine the dimensions of the baseboards, which should decrease in height the lower they go down the stairs.
  • Place the baseboards against the wall without gluing them in place. Observe the trimmings from various angles to see whether the transitions look natural. This will also help you identify if your measurements and cuts are correct.
  • Find where the best place to end the trims would be, especially if you can’t find a good way to blend them with the floor baseboards.

Should you cut the baseboard at the top or bottom of the stairs?

It depends on what you prefer and which option suits your home’s layout more, so either is fine. You can try to visualize where to cut the baseboard at the stairs to determine which will be the best choice.

How do you make sure the baseboard is evenly spaced along the stair railing?

The process required is actually very simple – all you have to do is measure the distance from the top of the baseboard to the railing. Repeat this a couple of times to make sure your measurement is correct.

Once you know the distance from the baseboard to the railing, go down each stair step and make a dot where the molding top edge needs to be. Then, lay out the baseboards against the wall to see if the spacing is even. If it is, you can start gluing the trim in place.

Conclusion

Overall, regarding how to end baseboard at stairs, you’d need to cut the trim short and either mask it with paint or seal the cut with a return end cap. You can also apply these methods when you can’t do an angle drop for baseboard to cabinet transition.

I hope that our guide has been helpful to you. If there’s anything else you want to ask, don’t be afraid to reach out to us.

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Rosanne

Rosanne Jones

Hi, I am Roseanne Jones, an aspiring home designer that wants to make you feel more at home with your new house.With nearly five years of redecorating old residents and arranging new ones, I am confident that I can give you the best advice on your lovely place.

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