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Community and Q&A

Order of Installation: Trim and Carpeting

lekawa | Posted in General Questions on

Which came first? The carpet or the trim?

Looking for feedback on whether there’s a standard order in which baseboards and carpet are installed.

My trim guy says he’d like carpet to be in before he installs baseboards, and carpet guy says they prefer that trim is in before they install carpet.   Is this typical?…and who usually wins in this scenario?  Are both just trying to make their jobs easier?  Carpet guy says using their carpet stretcher against bare drywall can potentially damage drywall…and I believe trim guy felt he could get the baseboards in at the best height once the carpet is in. (this actually makes more sense to me but I don’t pretend to know)

What is “normal” here?

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  1. 1869farmhouse | | #1

    All I can say, is in the event that I’m doing the work installing both baseboards and trim myself - I’m doing the baseboards first and then tucking the carpet underneath.

  2. Expert Member

    Hardwood and tile first, then trim, and carpet last.
    - Once the carpet goes in on the tack strips, the trim can sandwich it so that you can't get it out when it needs replacing without taking off the baseboards.
    - You want the trim a consistent height off the subfloor. Something that is a lot harder to judge when the carpet and underlay are in.
    - You don't want a trim guy working on your new carpet.
    - You don't want the painter filling and touching up the trim once the carpet is in.
    - The trim guy wants to come out once, not twice.

  3. ERIC WHETZEL | | #3

    Everything Malcolm said, plus your painter can always come back for small touch-ups should the carpet installer cause minor (hopefully) damage to the trim or drywall.

  4. lekawa | | #4

    Thanks to all.

    I have contacted the trim guy and he said he's o.k. with installing the trim first...He just didn't want it to get scuffed and also felt he could get it in tighter to the floor after carpet was in.

    Thought I was going to have to make someone unhappy!

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #5

      Leslie, the trim will likely get scuffed--fresh paint is soft, and carpet backing is scratchy. But it should be easy to touch up, and touching it up is easier than trying to install and finish trim with carpeting in place.

  5. prairieburner | | #6

    I'm a flooring guy. Whenever we install baseboard in a room that will have carpet we set the baseboards on scrap of the same material on its side so there is a gap between the subfloor and basboad. The shims are then removed. This allows a space for the carpet to be tucked. Don't install the baseboard tight to the subfloor.

  6. ohioandy | | #7

    I'm a trim guy. Going ahead of the carpet and positioning baseboard in mid-air using shims has lots more advantages: makes spanning uneven subfloors easier; gives some vertical wiggle room that makes miters and copes easier to fit; allows the baseboard to ride a little higher up on the drywall to escape the dreaded drywall taper; guarantees that the homeowner won't move furniture in to get in my way; lets me be on my way without waiting for the carpet installers who are always late; I could go on.

  7. lekawa | | #8

    All very useful information!

    Thank you all so much!

  8. user-5946022 | | #9

    Just make sure you have some idea of the type of carpet you will install.

    The base can ride ALOT higher on traditional carpet and pad than it can if you plan to put down carpet squares. I was going to install loop carpet squares, and arrived one day to find out the trim guy had installed all the base at carpet locations about 5/8" over subfloor, which would leave quite a gap if I just installed the intended carpet squares. So I looked at cut pile carpet squares, but decided to just go with regular carpet.

  9. lekawa | | #10

    Yeah, the carpet guy told me 3/8" was pretty standard... and that the pad doesn't get tucked under the baseboard...and that I might be able to replace carpet at some point with a bit thicker or a bit thinner carpet.

    Would you concur that 3/8" is a good "happy medium"?

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #11


      3/8" is the standard gap. The underlayment stops shy of the tack strips, so its only the depth of the carpet that matters - and I don't think those deep shags we remember are coming back.

    2. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #13

      Leslie, I have rarely worked with wall to wall carpeting but one lesson I learned the hard way is that it's a MAXIMUM of 3/8" gap. If your floors are out of level, as they are in many old homes, you may need to scribe the bottom of the baseboard to maintain a 1/4" to 3/8" gap. Less than 1/4" and they may not have space to tuck the carpeting. If the gap is too small they can roll and tuck the carpet, but it's nicer, longer lasting and easier to tuck it under the baseboard.

  10. MICHAEL CHANDLER | | #12

    I’ve always installed and painted / varnished the trim before putting the carpet down.

  11. burninate | | #14

    "trim guy felt he could get the baseboards in at the best height once the carpet is in."

    " you may need to scribe the bottom of the baseboard to maintain a 1/4" to 3/8" gap. Less than 1/4" and they may not have space to tuck the carpeting. "

    I learned a bit about trim sequencing from this video, with notes on uneven floors and tile installs:

    Forgive me if this is a dumb question, but - are you going to end up using shoe molding to cover that junction after the baseboards & carpet are in?

  12. lekawa | | #15

    Shoe moulding? I would really rather not. I don't think the trim guy is planning that. We didn't discuss it.

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