Good Questions: Do I HAVE to Have Baseboards?

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Dear AT, I'm in the middle of a (long-distance, eek) gut renovation of a small apartment in Paris. When the plasterwork is finished, they'll be putting down new wood floors. I want to keep the floors completely unfinished, as they are in my NYC apartment (I love the look of raw wood, even if upkeep is a bit of an adventure)...

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And I'd like to remove the baseboards so that the floorboards run up against the walls.

But the floor guy is insistent that I need baseboards, saying that
the wood has to have room to shrink and expand with the seasons.
Since the baseboards usually sit on top of the floorboards, what
difference does it make whether they're there or not? What are
baseboards for, other than to disguise sloppy intersections of wall
and floor?

Do I NEED baseboards? I'm sure I've seen lofts and some
modern spaces where there are no baseboards.

Thanks,

J.

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Dear J,

You can do anything you want, but your floorguy is right in that baseboards are the standard way of creating a tight fitting joint between wall and floor. Once the floor is down, you will definitely want something to cover the ends of the boards where they meet the wall and it is very hard to make it a perfect fit. Even if the floorguy is good, it is likely that your walls won't be entirely straight, etc...

If you want to minimize the LOOK of the baseboard, however, why don't you opt for a very thin one and paint it the same color as the wall? You can certainly have a baseboard and get the look you want. It is just a matter of playing with the design a bit.

Anyone else??

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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