The cost of tile cove base is surprisingly high—about $3 to $4 per running foot. On the other hand, scribing a wooden baseboard to a tile floor is very time-consuming. The method I use to install wooden baseboards gives me a water-resistant joint where tile and wood meet, and a fit that looks painstakingly scribed, but isn’t.
First, I bevel the back of my baseboard material as shown in the drawing. The thin edge on the front of the baseboard will usually conform to a well-laid tile floor with a few taps of a hammer — no scribing is necessary. Be sure to use a piece of scrap wood to cushion the hammer blows.
After dry-fitting, I tack the baseboards in place. As I remove them one at a time, I carefully lay a bead of good caulking compound in the void behind the bevel. I like Geocel caulk (Box 398, Elkhart, Ind. 46515). Any caulk that oozes out can be cut away after it sets up. Prefinishing the baseboards saves time, and usually gives better results than trying to paint or varnish them in place.
M. Felix Marti, Monroe, OR