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USA Historic Preservation


Type 1 Baseboards (18th Century)

Recommendations for Design

The goal of this work is to learn about baseboards as an architectural detail, and create a methodology for its dating and design during a restoration process. All the baseboards were separated to several types. The oldest one is represented in this piece of work.

Type 1 Baseboards are characterized by profile a component named OGEE and shaped as  . Most of all this profile is used as a part of the molding in combination with other profiles. It can be from  two to four different profiles in one baseboard molding. These baseboard types were used through the 18th c. and very early 19th c.

Below you can find materials and methodology for the creation of missing baseboards in 18th c. buildings. You can select one that you consider best for certain conditions or your preferable way of design.

This work offers two sources of the type 1 baseboard moldings. HABS materials for the Delaware Valley area (East Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey) are used for the first group (1, 2) of them. These baseboards were involved in statistic analysis. They can be used together with the methodology of defining general dimensions, or without them as a sample for design. The second group (1, 2) of baseboard moldings (entire USA territory, literature sources) also can be used as samples for design. Essential information is provided for each of them: Source, Location, Date, Height of Base and Height of Room.

The application program “Analyse-it” was used for calculating the Correlation coefficients and formula components. This program is adopted for Microsoft Excel, so it was able to get results in Excel and upload them for use on the Internet.

To create missing 18th c. baseboard Type 1 a designer can use three different ways.

The best.

1. Using materials of the physical building investigation could be considered as the best way, because we can create a baseboard with the closest approach to the original detail used initially in the particular room. The baseboard’s height could be found easily with traces on the old wall structures. Thickness and even profiles usually leave traces on the details they originally touched. These would generally be door, window and fireplace trims.

The most common traditional way.

2. If all the traces in the room are lost, restorationists usually use samples from other houses. They try to find the typologically and chronologically closest house, measure details and, using them, create a design for particular rooms in a particularly restored building. This is the traditional way and it has some minor disadvantages. For instance, in result we can have the absolute same details in several historical building, and that is not a realistic situation. Besides, it is impossible to consider all the building’s parameter without a special analysis. At the same time it is the simplest way. If a designer selects this method, molding sets 1 and 2 with attached information can be helpful. Simply download desired molding profile onto your desktop and then use it.

Newly suggested way.

3. The baseboard’s dimensions could be calculated with a methodology that was created using probability statistic methods. To calculate the particular baseboard sizes the room’s parameters were used. These parameters were: construction (or reconstruction) date; floor number; wall material; room height, length and width; presenting or not presenting of wooden or plaster panel. In result of this methodology, the designer has a chance to create unique baseboards in his house that cannot be repeated elsewhere, and at the same time are the closest to the general appropriateness under particular house and room conditions. Instructions to find the particular base’s dimensions represented here.

After base dimensions have been calculated go to the moldings table set 1 and select a molding which is closest in date and calculated height and thickness of a molding. 

The third method relates only to the Delaware Valley area (States Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey). Therefore, only the first set of moldings is possible to use working with  Delaware Valley area, which was involved in the analysis.


Experienced restorationists are aware that usually design process is more complicated than is described in paragraph 2 and 3. Therefore, additional research should be done to answer some additional questions:

  1. In what 1st floor rooms’ baseboards have same type, sizes and shape, and in which ones they are different?
  2. Are all the 2nd floor baseboards similar?
  3. Are all the 3rd floor baseboards similar?
  4. What kind of relationships do each room baseboards have with bases of column, pilasters, fireplaces, door and window cases and cupboards?  

HABS materials could be helpful for that, but with very careful use. One of the biggest HABS disadvantages is the absence of architectural details dating.


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