Mitered vs. Coped Joints For Inside Baseboard Corners

  • 01 of 03

    Miter or Cope Your Inside Baseboards?

    Baseboards Fit Together
    Baseboards Fit Perfectly Together!. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com

    When installing inside baseboard corner molding*, there are two ways to join them: miter cut or coped joint.  They both produce the same visual result.  So which one is better?

    • Mitered:  Each baseboard is cut at a 45 degree angle (as shown in this image).  When joined, they form a 90 degree angle.
    • Coped:  Each baseboard is cut at a 90 degree angle.  Then, one baseboard is manually cut with a coping saw to match the profile (or contours) of the other baseboard.

    ​Which Should You Use?

    Most homeowners who own an electric miter saw or a miter box opt for mitered baseboards.  But professionals swear by coped joints.  

    If your walls are other than perfectly 90 degrees to each other, mitered joints will look imperfect.  Coped joints, though, work well with all types of wall conditions.

    But it is difficult to cope a baseboard well.  Practice coping with baseboard waste material.  If it all looks good, then coping is the preferred route.  Otherwise, miter your baseboards.

    Subsequent slides show visual details of each joint, as well as pros and cons to help you decide which route to go.

    * Emphasis on inside corners.  Outside corners are cut and joined different.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Mitered Cut Baseboard:  Top View

    Baseboard Corner Molding - Miter Cut
    Baseboard Corner Molding - Miter Cut. © Lee Wallender/Licensed to About.com

     

    Name

    Miter cut inside baseboard molding.

    What It Looks Like When Finished

    When done right, the corner will look perfect, with no gaps.  It will look identical to a finished coped joint.

    How It Is Made

    With either a manual miter saw and box or an electric miter saw, cut each baseboard at a 45 degree angle.  Fit the two pieces together to form a seamless 90 degree angle corner.

    How Hard Is It For a DIYer?

    Easy.  It does not matter what kind of profile the baseboards have (profile is the shape on the face). As long as each board is cut at 45 degrees, the two profiles should meet exactly.

    What Could Go Wrong?

    If the two boards are not cut precisely at 45 degrees (or more often, if the walls are not perfectly 90 degrees), you will end up with a gap.  

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Coped Baseboard Joint (Oblique View)

    Corner Baseboard Molding - Coped Joint (Oblique View)
    Corner Baseboard Molding - Coped Joint (Oblique View). © Lee Wallender/Licensed to About.com

    Name

    Coped joint baseboard molding.

    What It Looks Like When Finished

    As with the mitered joint, it will be seamless--no gap between the two boards.

    How It Is Made

    Cut one baseboard at 90 degrees so that it butts against the adjoining wall.  

    Use this baseboard as a template to draw a profile on a second piece of baseboard.  

    With a manual coping saw, cut that second board along the line.  

    How Hard Is It For a DIYer?

    Not easy.  Coping baseboard material is difficult if you do not have an experienced hand.  You are wielding a flimsy saw blade on a wavy surface--this takes some practice. 

    Another complicating factor:  you need to "cut back" on the line, so that a sharp edge is showing.  

    Problems?

    The reason professionals prefer coped joints is because they perform better over time--fewer problems with wall movement opening up gaps in the baseboards.