This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The walls and ceilings of rooms in which there is no attempt made to give an ornamental treatment in woodwork are ordinarily finished in plaster. Even in the cheapest work, however, there should be some sort of finish at the point where the floor and the wall meet, in order to stop the plaster and the finished flooring. This member is called the "base" or "skirting" and is almost invariably of wood. It may be of hard wood, or of soft wood for painting, and may be very plain or very ornamental. Such a base would ordinarily be made out of stuff 7/8 inch or 1 1/8 inches thick, and would be made from 8 to 10 inches high above the floor. The top of this member is usually molded in some way. Fig. 355 shows such a base, made very plain. It is about 8 inches high, slightly molded at the top, as shown at A in the figure. The finished flooring C passes under the base, in which case the flooring must be laid first, but the base may be set in place before the flooring is laid, and the flooring stop against it, in which case it is necessary to place a quarter-round molding, as shown at B in the figure, to cover the joint between the two. E is the plastering against which the base sets and DD are grounds of wood which are nailed to the studding or furring before the lathing and plastering are done, so as to provide something to which the base may be nailed. The base should not, however, be fastened at both top and bottom, as it is likely to crack if it does not have a chance to swell and move freely in one direction. The plastering may be carried down behind the place where the base is to go or not, as desired. If the plastering is carried down to the floor, a warmer building is obtained than would be the case if the plastering were to be stopped at the top of the base.
Fig. 355. Section of Base Board or Skirting.
Fig. 356 shows how the base may be built up out of two pieces so as to save material, the upper part being taken out of thicker stuff than the lower part. If this base were made in one piece it would be necessary to take the entire member out of the thick stuff and waste material in the lower portion. In this manner it is possible to build up the base in any shape desired, and to make it of as many pieces as seems advisable. A base may be made to any height up to 12 or 14 inches, but these heights are excessive for a base. If it is necessary to protect the wall up to a greater height than can be covered by means of a base, or if an ornamental effect is desired, a wainscot is used.