If you’ve ever seen a gap between baseboard and wood flooring, I think you’ll agree it’s not pretty!
This is a case that reminds us that shoe molding is one of the little details we take for granted when it’s there but we notice if its not there.
There are as many different styles of shoe molding as there are different styles of baseboard. Which one is right for you?
I’m going to show you how to choose and install the perfect shoe molding to complement your style.
Don’t try to caulk gaps between wood flooring and baseboard.
Install shoe molding! It’s a simple, straightforward AND very inexpensive DIY project. It will give your space that little bit of extra detail that makes your home special. If you decide to hire trim carpenters for this work, it’s likely to be an inexpensive home-improvement project.
What Is Shoe Molding?
It’s a small molding installed at the bottom of the baseboard. It’s intended to bridge any gaps between the baseboard and wood flooring.
Some design professionals like to use a molding that’s made of the same material as the wood flooring. And then they stain the molding to match the finished floor.
To be blunt, I’ve never liked that look. There’s one exception: if the entire baseboard is stained like the floor, then of course the shoe molding will also be stained.
In my experience, it’s more common to paint the base and shoe.
If you’re trying to choose the right one for your home, don’t limit yourself to whatever is labeled as Shoe Molding.
There are other molding profiles you can consider. And the taller your baseboard is, the more choices you will have!
Types of Molding Profiles
There are several types of molding profiles that can be used as shoe molding.
Quarter Round is often used. As the name implies this is a molding shaped to a quarter of a circle. It’s readily available in ½”, ⅝” and ¾”.
Roundover Shoe Molding
This is the most common shoe molding. At first glance, Roundover Shoe Molding looks like quarter round but it’s more elegant. It’s slightly taller than it is wide.
The most common dimensions are approximately ¾” tall by ½” thick. A search for shoe molding will show this profile.
This can create a very nice design. And if it’s too wide (depends on the height of your baseboard), it’s easily ripped down to whatever width suits you. To be clear, I’m talking about the molding in a door jamb that the door stops up against: not the hardware doorstop that prevents the door from marking a wall!
This is a rectangular ¼” thick material available in widths up to 3”. It works great if you’re working on a contemporary home.
Practical Considerations When You Choose Shoe Molding
- The profile you choose should be flexible in the vertical dimension. Why? Because the shoe molding should follow the contours of the floor better than the baseboard. This is what will eliminate the small gaps between floor and baseboard.
- You don’t want the molding to protrude from the base too much. This can create an awkward condition where it stops at door casings. In the lattice photo the molding stops flush with the deep casing.
What’s the Purpose Of Using Shoe Molding?
The primary reason to install shoe molding is to hide gaps between floor and baseboard. However, baseboard will look best if you’ll install it level. Even if the floor is not level or flat. That’s where shoe molding comes in.
If you ever wonder what gives a home a ‘special character’ … often it’s small details like added shoe molding at the baseboard and the floor.
Additional Reasons To Install Shoe Molding
But there’s another use for using this material. It helps to save the baseboard from dings caused by vacuum cleaners being pushed up against it or dragged along it. At the very least that’s going to mark the paint on your base. And it’s handy to have to only have to paint the shoe molding when/if it does get dinged.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called back to a home to hear an owner complain about the quality of the paint job on baseboards.
It can be fun to ask to see the vacuum cleaner and then find marks on the edges the same color as the abrasion on the paint. This happens most often when we’re asked to paint base with a flat latex paint. Many apartment buildings and/or homeowners don’t want oil-based paints.
How To Install Shoe Molding
You will find lengthy treatises on nailing to the floor versus nailing to the base. Nail the it to the baseboard.
The argument for nailing to the floor is that in the event the floor sags, this little molding will follow the floor. Someone thinks this is a good idea?!
Toenail the molding to the baseboard. Press it down firmly to the floor as you nail.
And if the shoe molding is out beyond your casing, return it back on itself.
Cope inside corners.
PRO TIP: If you are installing shoe molding and are also refinishing the wood floor, install the shoe molding after the floor finish is done and the dust removed.
The job will look better if the edger can get as close to the base as possible. I’ve often had the rough sanding around the edges done first.
If you plan to use finish nails instead of a brad nailer or trim nailer you’ll just have to be careful not to crack the shoe molding with the nails.
The best way to avoid cracking any small molding is to clip off the point of the nail with a pliers. This way, the nail won’t act like a wedge forcing its way between the wood fibers.
How To Deal with Uneven Floors
There are just two ways to achieve to deal with uneven floors.
The easiest way is to start at the high point in a room and install the baseboard level from that point. If the floor is ¼” out of level, at some point you’ll have a ¼” gap between the base and the floor.
Another method of installing baseboard is to scribe it to the floor. For this you’d start at the low point of the room. But scribing baseboard tends to create a lot of work. And the novelty of scribing baseboard wears off very quickly!
Installing this little molding is a lot easier and a lot less work. And finally, a well chosen molding will look very natural.