How to Fix Water Damage on Baseboards: 8 Critical DIY Steps

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

Cleaning up after a kitchen pipe bursts or a toilet overflows quickly becomes a big project. Home plumbing disasters often cause water damage in the baseboards, and that adds another layer of work to the job.

When was the last time you had to replace damaged baseboards after flooding at the house? Our guide covers everything you need to know with expert tips on how to fix water damage on your baseboards.

How to Fix Water Damage on Baseboards: 8 DIY Steps

Most baseboards in modern homes are made from multi-density fiberboard. You know you’re dealing with water-damaged MDF baseboards if your home’s baseboards are peeling and bubbling. As bad as they look, you can replace them by following these eight steps. This guide applies to fixing wood baseboards too.

1. Loosen the Bad Baseboard

Run a sharp utility knife along the top inside edge of the baseboard. You want to break the old caulk seal between the trim and wall. Work with smooth, even strokes to avoid accidentally cutting into the drywall.

Power Tip: Wearing a headlamp makes removing and replacing water-damaged baseboards much easier.

2. Carefully Pry It Off

Slip a painter’s bar or a moulding pry bar between the baseboard and wall. Carefully pry the trim away from the drywall in sections. Try to keep finishing nails intact with the baseboard as it comes off. Be on the lookout for any signs of water damage behind the baseboard.

3. Clean up the Drywall

Use the utility knife to remove old glue and caulk residue from the wall. A smooth surface ensures a better seal when you attach the new baseboard. Finish off rough spots with a drywall sander.

Power Tip: If you see any mold growing on water-damaged baseboards or drywall, don’t risk your health. Wear protective gear while you work.

4. Double-Check for Damp Spots

After removing the old trim, double-check for wet spots on drywall and water damage under the baseboards. Be prepared to add a drying phase to the project. You don’t want your finished job to trap moisture in the wall or subfloor.

5. Measure and Match

Tape measure the lengths of baseboard that need to be replaced, and add several feet to your total. Match the original trim by using a short strip as a sample when you shop for new moulding.

Power Tip: If you can’t find anything, check for matching baseboard in your home’s closets. Use it, and replace it with something that looks similar.

6. Paint the New Baseboard

It’s easier to prime and paint new baseboard before cutting and installing. This strategy saves the trouble of masking walls and laying down protection for carpets and floors.

Power Tip: Many home improvement stores offer spectrophotometer services that can help match the original paint color on your old baseboard sample.

7. Miter for a Smooth Fit

Use a miter box to ensure a precise 45 degree angle on the ends of replacement baseboards. The cut keeps corner pieces lined up and eases new trim behind existing baseboard.

Power Tip: Use a coping saw to cut slightly inward and behind your original miter cut. This makes it easier to get a flush fit between old and new trim especially at corners.

8. Secure With Caulk and Nails

Apply dabs of caulk to the back of your replacement baseboard to hold it in place. Position it so that ends securely join existing trim. Attach the baseboard to the wall with finishing nails, and complete the job by caulking along its top.

Power Tip: If you’re working with water-damaged baseboards in the bathroom or kitchen, use a silicone caulk.

Address the Source of the Problem

Before you start any water-damaged baseboard project, address the source of the water problem. If it’s the aftermath of a kitchen flood, thoroughly dry floors and walls. If a busted pipe soaked the bathroom, fix the leak right away.

As a full-service restoration company, we take care of minor plumbing repairs. Our water damage technicians also expedite the drying process and address subfloor problems, wallboard replacement and mold remediation.

Dealing with Water Damage in Chicago? We Can Help

water damage restoration truck

We know you can handle most DIY jobs, but sometimes the project is just too big. We’re here for you with expert water damage repair services. Our staff can even assist with navigating your homeowners insurance claim.

Give us a call. Our water damage repair specialists handle everything from small plumbing repairs to floor, drywall and baseboard restoration.

You can depend on our teams here at ServiceMaster by Zaba to restore your water damaged home, so give us a call: 773-647-1985

Do I have to replace water-damaged baseboards?

Baseboards serve as more than trim. They cover joints between flooring and wall surfaces. Replacing them keeps dirt and debris from accumulating in these areas. Baseboards also help keep insects and rodents out of walls.

What type of paint is best for new baseboards?

Most homeowners prefer working with latex paint, but you can use an oil-based product. A semi-gloss finish works best because it resists scuffing and it’s easier to wash.

Why should I use silicone caulk on kitchen and bath baseboards?

Silicone caulk’s resistance to moisture and mold makes it ideal for baseboard work in kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also an excellent choice for baseboard repair because it adheres to tile flooring.