How to End Baseboard at Stairs in 3 Different Ways
Written by Milan Jara on 16th Aug 2022
Your search for how to end baseboard at stairs ends today with the discovery of our handy guide on the three different methods you can use. Indulge yourself!
If you plan to install baseboard molding on your stairs or have a staircase with a baseboard already installed, you might need to figure out how to close the baseboard. You have three options to do this, and the method you choose will depend on your preference and how professional (or amateurish!) you want the baseboard end to look.
What You'll Need to End Baseboard at Stairs
You’ll need the following materials:
- Power miter saw or compound miter saw.
- Glue and nails, depending on the material of the baseboards. In our example, we will use glue to install urethane baseboards, but you may find nails helpful for a vinyl or MDF baseboard.
3 Ways to End Baseboard Molding at Stairs
Let's explore the three ways you can end baseboard moldings at the stairs.
1. Making a Straight Cut at the End of the Baseboard
A not-so-professional way to end baseboard molding at the stairs is to make a straight cut on the end of the baseboard using a miter saw.
Set the saw to zero degrees and make a miter cut on the baseboard trim with the bottom edge resting on the saw bed and the inner face flush with the saw fence.
The straight-cut baseboard endpoint is amateurish because the end remains exposed. This option is okay for wood baseboards because it leaves the grain of the wood exposed at the end. It’s not a good choice for urethane baseboards since the material is soft.
2. Cutting the End of the Baseboard at a 45°
Finishing with a 45° tapered baseboard end is another amateurish way to end baseboard molding at the stairs because it, too, leaves the ends exposed.
To make this cut, set your miter saw to a 45° bevel angle and cut through the baseboard, keeping the bottom edge flush with the saw's bed.
3. Cutting the End of the Baseboard at 45° and Closing with a Return
The most professional way to end the baseboard at stairs is to cut the end of the baseboard at 45° and add a return or end cap to close the end.
In this case, you make two 45° cuts, one on the end of the baseboard and the other for the filler piece. The end of the baseboard will rest against the wall, and the baseboard return will close the end, offering a smoother, better-looking finish.
You can make the two cuts in two ways:
Lay the baseboard flat on the saw bed rather than against the saw fence. Swing the saw to a 45° miter cut so the baseboard is to the right of the blade and the bottom is away from the fence. The short piece that falls off this cut is waste material.
Make a second cut to get the filler piece to marry with the 45° cut you've just made. Do this by swinging the miter saw to 45° in the opposite direction. Then, lay the baseboard on the saw bed, keeping the bottom away from the edge. Again, the short piece that falls off is also waste material.
Next, flip the baseboard upside down to make the second cut on the opposite side. Set the miter saw to zero degrees, and place the baseboard with its back face flush with the fence and the bottom edge facing the blade.
You'll have to cut at the exact corner angle where the bottom edge (now facing up toward the blade) meets the end you made in the second cut above to determine the precise length you need. The piece that falls off this cut will be the filler piece or end cap.
To end the baseboard, place it against the wall and glue the filler piece to the end. The 45° return piece slope slides down to the finished floor in this setup.
The second way to make this cut is to start with an upright baseboard. Position the baseboard to the left of the blade with the back face flush with the fence and the bottom edge on the saw bed and make a 45° outside cut. The piece that falls off this cut is waste material.
To cut the filler or return piece, swing the saw arm 45° to the left and place the baseboard upright to the right of the blade with the back face against the fence and the bottom edge resting on the saw bed. The piece that falls off this cut is waste material.
Next, flip the baseboard upside down, so the bottom edge faces the saw blade, the back face faces you, and the top face rests against the fence. Make a diagonal cut from the corner point where the three edges (the length edge, the height edge, and the short edge obtained from the 45° cut) meet.
This last cut must be accurate, so take your time. The thin piece that falls off this cut will be the baseboard return.
To end the baseboard at this point, rest the main baseboard molding against the wall and glue up the thin filler piece to close the end. The 45° cut slides along the wall in this setup.
Which way you end the baseboard at the stairs depends on your preference. Make it even easier by trying the third and most professional method using a set of baseboard samples and then moving on to real moldings once you get the hang of it.
You can always check our database for a professional baseboard installer if the baseboard installation project proves too challenging.