Q: The baseboard in our house consists of two pieces of wood: a flat lower piece about 4 inches wide and a top piece with a curved profile. We were beginning to strip paint off it when we noticed that the joint between the two pieces is opening up in places. Should we remove the molding? And if we do, how can we reinstall it to prevent the joint from opening up in the future?

— Brian, by e-mail

A: Tom says: If the lower piece is solidly attached, I wouldn't mess with it. Besides, it should be fairly easy to strip in place using a low-fume chemical paint stripper. You might as well remove the upper pieces — they seem to be loose anyway — so you can take them to be stripped in a commercial dip tank. Use a couple of thin, wide pry bars to gently lever them off the wall and a pair of nippers to pull out any embedded nails through the back of the molding. (This will cause less damage than if you try to knock them out the way they went in.)

After the paint is off, prime the front and back of the upper piece and the exposed edge and face of the lower piece. Then nail the upper piece into place, using 8d finish nails driven into the studs at a 45-degree angle — just nailing into drywall is pointless. If the joint between the two pieces is a simple butt joint, conceal it with a thin bead of paintable acrylic-latex caulk. But if the top piece overlaps the lower piece slightly, you won't need the caulk.

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