How to install shoe molding

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How to install shoe molding

Shoe molding is a type of decorative trim piece primarily utilized for concealing small irregularities between the wall and floor of a structure. Shoe molding is installed at the base of a wall and typically attached to a much taller baseboard. This narrow molding has two flat sides facing inward and one concave side facing outward. Shoe molding is usually constructed of natural hardwood, but may also be made of engineered wood or vinyl. This molding must be precisely mitered at each corner for proper appearance.

When tile or sheet flooring is installed in a home or building, small gaps are often left at the base of the wall. A baseboard is typically installed at the wall base to prevent damage from occurring to the wall, but the bottom of this board is usually too narrow to conceal flooring irregularities. Shoe molding is often attached to the bottom of the baseboard to conceal these small gaps. Although this molding serves no structural purpose, it does provide a more uniform transition between the floor and wall. This molding often gives the appearance of a small, protruding shoe at the bottom of the much taller baseboard.

Shoe molding is frequently installed in rooms with tile or sheet flooring, but seldom utilized for carpeted floors. Carpet edges are typically tucked underneath the baseboard and do not require any additional concealment molding. The bottom edge of the shoe molding is usually sealed with a clear caulking material next to the flooring. This seal prevents the molding from becoming damaged when the floor is mopped. The top edge of the molding is often filled with putty for a seamless appearance.

This small strip of molding has a very narrow profile, with two flat sides facing inward and one curved side facing outward. It is usually about ¾-inch-high (2 cm) and ½-inch-thick (1 cm) at its base. Larger, quarter-round molding measuring ¾ inch (2 cm) on each flat side is sometimes used in place of shoe molding to conceal wider irregularities. Shoe molding is typically sold in lengths of 6 feet (182 cm) or 12 feet (365 cm) and cut to the correct size during installation.

This molding is typically constructed of natural hardwood sections joined together with finger joints. It may also be made of materials such as engineered wood or vinyl that are pre-finished. This molding is usually attached to the base board with small, thin nails or glue. Each corner must be cut to a precisely-mitered angle for the best appearance. It is generally stained or painted to match the baseboard after installation.

Installing Shoe Molding

If you have hardwood floors in your house, take a look at your baseboards. Right in front of the baseboards there is usually a smaller, curved molding about ¾” tall. How does this short molding look? Is it painted over, chipped and/or just beat up in general? If so, you can easily replace this molding and make a huge difference in the overall appearance of your room. And, it is fairly easy to do.

What does this molding actually do? In addition to adding an aesthetic dimension to your baseboards, it actually serves a practical purpose. It protects your baseboards from being chipped and dented by vacuum cleaners, furniture and other things that move around at floor level. Which is why after a few years this molding tends to get a little beaten up.

Typically this base molding comes in 2 shapes, quarter round or shoe molding. When you shop for materials for this project, it is usually best to replace your existing molding with the same shape. Otherwise you may end up having to do a little work on your baseboard or floor to finish previously unexposed areas.

Always wear eye protection when working with power tools and striking tools.

Common Mistakes
If you currently have quarter round molding and you install shoe molding, it will not cover as much of your floor as quarter round. The newly exposed part of the floor may not match the rest of the floor.

Helpful Tips
You need access to the entire perimeter of the room you are working on. Move as much furniture as possible to the center of the room so it does not interfere with your project.

How to install shoe molding

When hardwood flooring is refinished or installed, the baseboard molding is also typically replaced. A small piece of molding is used to finish off the baseboard installation and close the gap between the floor and the baseboard itself.

In general, there are two types of molding that can be used to fill this gap; shoe molding and quarter round molding. Although they appear to be almost identical and can be interchangeable in some cases, they are not the same thing.

Usually, when deciding on whether to use quarter round or shoe molding, it comes down to personal preference. However, we’ll help you understand exactly what each of these moldings is, what makes them different, and what they can be used for.

Table of Contents

What Is Shoe Molding?

Sometimes referred to as “base shoe,” shoe molding is often paired and stained to match your trim. It is essentially a small, thin piece of molding that can help finish off your room. Shoe molding also offers the potential for a decorative touch while also covering any gaps between your flooring and the bottom of the baseboard.

The concept of pairing shoe molding with baseboards started in the United States and Europe during the late 1800s. Specifically, during the Victorian era is when this type of molding became easily accessible because it was mass-produced.

The molding gets its name because of its location at the “shoe level.” Shoe molding really caught on with homeowners because of its attractive appearance and the ability to seal out dirt and rodents.

What Is Quarter Round?

Quarter round molding is exactly as the name describes. It is equal to one quarter of a round dowel rod. This molding features a 90-degree angle on the back end and a quarter radius on its visible side.

Available in various sizes, the quarter round is versatile and can be used in a variety of situations. It’s most often used and works great in corners and to help soften 90-degree joints that exist between your trim and moldings.

What Makes Quarter Round And Shoe Molding Different?

Although these two types of finishing trim are almost identical, shoe molding does not have the same perfect quarter radius that comes with the construction of quarter round. Instead, the profile of shoe molding is more squat.

The use of shoe molding gives the installer more leeway in their end cuts. Both options provide the opportunity for hiding any floors that are un-level. Their flexibility can wind and mold with the floor to conceal any of these imperfections. However, it’s important to understand that not all baseboards are compatible with shoe molding. This is the only caveat because, in order to accept the shoe molding, the bottom of the baseboard must be flat.

While quarter round can also be used along the baseboard to fill gaps, homeowners and carpenters often prefer to use shoe molding. The sleeker, taller, and narrower look of shoe molding is more desirable than the curved nature of the quarter round.

Though they may appear to look the same, you’ll notice that the height of shoe molding is greater when viewed from the side. This allows it to protrude less from the wall than its counterpart. The reduced outcrop of shoe molding offers more flooring space, giving the trim a more polished look since the molding appears to hug the baseboard.

Shoe Moldings And Quarter Round

Both quarter round and shoe moldings are flexible, lengthy pieces of wood that can come in oak, pine, hemlock, MDF, and polystyrene (in some cases). They also have the same origin as round dowels that are then cut and refined into their individual shapes.

You can find both of these trim materials at your local home improvement store stacked vertically and in very long lengths. The reason for such long length pieces is to have the ability to cover most walls without having to join shorter pieces together.

Quarter round and shoe moldings are very flexible and intended to conform and bend based on the flooring profile. You don’t have to be concerned with finding perfectly straight pieces as they can be easily bent into place during your install.

Installing Shoe Molding And Quarter Round

Installing both shoe molding and quarter round at the edge of your baseboards is a fairly straightforward project. Follow these steps and tips in order to achieve a successful installation.

  • Start with the proper tools. You’ll need a miter saw to cut the quarter round and shoe molding accurately. To create inside corners, you can use a coping saw. You’ll also need a finish nailer to install the molding physically.
  • If necessary, paint or varnish the molding to match the rest of your trim. In order to help the finish trim look finished and professional before install you want it to blend nicely with the rest of your trim.
  • Measure and cut your molding pieces to size. Refer to our essential guide on how to cut the quarter round molding with a miter saw.
  • Begin in a corner and move in one direction around the room. This will make cutting the coping joints that you need for inside corners a much simpler process.
  • With all your molding cut and ready, you can start nailing the pieces to the baseboard. Shoe molding and quarter round are small and can be easily damaged. Make sure you’re using a pinner or finish nailer in place of a hammer and nails.
  • To prevent cracking, nail at the molding’s centerline. How far apart you place your nails will depend on how secure you want it to be. As a general rule of thumb, place them every 1 to 2 feet.
  • Be sure that the nails are going straight into the baseboard. You don’t want the nails going into the gap or floorboards.
  • Consider counter-setting the nails. If you have a nail setter, this will help give the nails a more finished look. Placing the nail setter against the nails, you can then tap it into place with your hand to counter-sink.
  • Create returns at walls or door jams. Whether you choose to create a mitered return, bull-nose return, or a wraparound return, you should have a plan for where the molding ends at doors and some corners.

Should You Match The Quarter Round To The Floor Color?

There is no real answer to whether or not you should match the quarter round or molding to your floor color. This all really depends on your preference. Most people do match the colors; however, some decide to add a little character to their home by coordinating their molding or quarter round to the color of their floor.

For instance, instead of brown and brown, some people will do a brown floor with cream-colored molding. Or, they’ll switch it up to something that matches well. If this is something that you want to do, but you’re unsure of what colors go together, you can always hire an interior designer. The interior designer will take the time to help you choose the best colors for your home.

Related Questions

Do I really need a finishing trim?

Yes, you should install either quarter round or shoe molding in order to avoid any gap between your flooring and the trim itself. This is not only unappealing but makes it easy for debris and dirt to become trapped under the baseboard. It also helps prevent any rodents or pests from entering your home as well.

Not to mention, the finishing trim helps keep your home warm or cool, depending on the season, as it provides insulation and keeps the cool air or hot air out.

Updated: April 2021

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For a basic project in zip code 47474 with 125 linear feet, the cost to Install Molding starts at $6.21 – $9.66 per linear foot. Actual costs will depend on job size, conditions, and options.

To estimate costs for your project:

1. Set Project Zip Code Enter the Zip Code for the location where labor is hired and materials purchased.

2. Specify Project Size and Options Enter the number of “linear feet” required for the project.

3. Re-calculate Click the “Update” button.

Unit Costs: How Pros Price

Unlike websites which blend pricing from dissimilar jobs, Homewyse creates custom estimates from Unit Costs. The Unit Cost method is based on job specific detail and current costs. Contracting, trade, design and maintenance businesses rely on the Unit Cost method for transparency, accuracy and fair profits.

Cost to Install Molding – Notes and General Information

These estimates are for BASIC work performed in serviceable conditions by qualified trade professionals using MID GRADE materials. Work not mentioned on this page and/or work using master craftsman, premium materials and project supervision will result in HIGHER COSTS! Explore the full range of trim molding new installation labor options and material prices here.

These estimates are NOT substitutes for written quotes from trade professionals. Homewyse strongly recommends that you contact reputable professionals for accurate assessments of work required and costs for your project – before making any decisions or commitments.

The cost estimate includes:

  • Costs for local material / equipment delivery to and service provider transportation to and from the job site.
  • Costs to prepare the worksite for Molding Installation, including costs to protect existing structure(s), finishes, materials and components.
  • Labor setup time, mobilization time and minimum hourly charges that are commonly included for small Molding Installation jobs.

The cost estimate does NOT include:

  • Costs for removing, relocating, repairing, or modifying existing framing, surfacing, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems – or bringing those systems into compliance with current building codes.
  • Costs for testing and remediation of hazardous materials (asbestos, lead, etc).
  • General contractor overhead and markup for organizing and supervising the Molding Installation. Add 13% to 22% to the total cost above if a general contractor will supervise this project.
  • Sales tax on materials and supplies.
  • Permit or inspection fees (or portion thereof) required by your local building department for your overall project.

References – Molding Installation

  • Product and Supplies Data: Lowes Cabinets Lowes , Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Home Depot Cabinets Home Depot, Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Lowes Moulding and Millwork Products Reeb Millwork, Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Home Depot Moulding and Millwork Products Home Depot, Apr 2021, Website
  • Carpentry,4th Edition Amer Technical Pub; 4th edition, Sep 2003, Leonard Koel, ISBN 826907385
  • The Building Estimator’s Reference Book , Mar 2012,
  • Carpentry and Building Construction, Student Text Glencoe/McGraw-Hill; 6th edition, Jan 2003, Mark Feirer, John Feirer, ISBN 007822702X
  • Cabinetmaking and Millwork MacMillan Publishing Company; 5 Revised edition, Jul 1989, John Feirer, ISBN 25373552

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All posts tagged how to install shoe molding

Hide that gap in your floor…

Hello again from Kachunq. Today I want to give you a few pointers on hiding that seam between your flooring and the baseboard. I know some flooring you can install tightly up to the baseboard and then caulk it in. Let’s face it, you need to be a little more than a do it yourselfer for that kind of result. There are also other types of flooring that you must leave room for the floor to expand and contract, lets say it kind of floats in place.

So by now you have your floor in place and you will have a small gap to cover between the new flooring and the baseboard. The easiest way to do this is with a product called “shoe molding“. It is usually 5/8″ by 3/4” and comes in lengths of 8 foot or more. If you go to any hardware store you can ask someone and they can point you to it. This product will cost around 5 to 10 dollars per piece and you will need about 10 percent extra for cuts and waste. I recommend using the wood products, it can be pine or MDF if you are painting, stay away from the foam products as they do not have the durability to withstand the vacuum cleaner bumping them.

When you install this product it is best to use a brad nail gun with a minimum of 1.25 inch brads. If you don’t have one then you can predrill the holes and use trim nails. Be sure to use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the nails you’re using. This method will take a little longer but will get the job done.

Now it is time to make your cuts and a brief explanation of that. Most of your cuts will be 45 degree angles, because two 45’s equal a 90 degree turn. So you have inside corners and outside corners, think of it as the inside corner the points will go into the corner and an outside corner points out from the corner.

This is an example of an inside and outside corner.

You will need to consider these cuts when you do your measuring. As far as how to you make these cuts, there are essentially three methods. First you can use a speed square and free hand cut with a hand saw, highly NOT recommended. Second, you can buy a miter box that comes with a hand saw and do them that way. This way is not bad, but can be time consuming and frustrating. Third, you can get a compound miter saw and do them with it, the best way.

How to install shoe molding

If you’re looking for the best and finest way to conceal natural gaps between the flooring and baseboards, you should consider installing shoe molding. This can provide a professional, perfect finishing touch and transform the appearance of the room. Most importantly, installing shoe molding is dramatically easy and fast and doesn’t require sophisticated tools.

What is shoe molding?

Shoe molding or base shoe is a thin, small strip of molding that provides your room with extra finesse and a finished appearance. It adds a decorative touch and covers any natural gaps that might be existing between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard. It is worth noting that not all types of baseboards work well with shoe molding. That said, read on to learn the best shoe molding materials and how to install them seamlessly.

Shoe Molding Provides a Flawless Finish to Baseboard and Conceals Gaps

Unlike the old tall baseboards common during the Greek revival period, the current shoe molding options are relatively smaller and thinner. Notably, the idea of installing shoe molding originated from the United States and Europe and has since seen massive production of wood trim which has made molding even more popular.

It received the name ‘shoe molding’ as it is installed at shoe level and helped keep dirt and insects out of the house. Today, homeowners use shoe molding to cover unattractive transitions or gaps between the floor and the bottom of the wall. While baseboards can work well in covering the gaps, their larger size makes them stiff and provides uneven conformity with the floor.

Plus, it can leave small, unappealing gaps between the baseboard and the floor. No wonder many homeowners today prefer installing shoe molding in their houses. Additionally, shoe molding offers flexibility and a flawless finished look.

Shoe molding options are available in wood, polystyrene, and Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to suit your baseboard needs.

This is the most popular shoe molding material option. At Wood Source LLC, we offer a wide selection of wood materials to match your baseboard perfectly. Hardwood shoe molding options are available in various oak, walnut, and ash, which can be stained to suit your trim.

Our wood flooring options include:
1. Engineered wood
2. Pre-finished wood
3. Unfinished wood

The type of molding you will need depends on the features and requirements of your home. Finishing trims often come in two distinctive shapes, namely, the shoe molding and quarter-round.

Quarter round molding can be used along with the baseboard to add an extra dimension to the floor and the baseboard transition. It can also provide a low profile trim when used as the baseboard in your room. Although it’s used to replace baseboard, most homeowners still prefer shoe molding as it is relatively narrower and sleeker.

Polystyrene is probably the least expensive shoe molding option and less durable than wood. Additionally, it can easily dent if bumped.

Medium-density fiberboard shoe molding offers a combination of sawdust and resin and works almost similar to wood. It works well in concealing uneven gaps across the baseboard, and although it’s great for painting, MDF doesn’t stain properly.

How to Install Shoe Molding for Unmatched Finishing Touch

Installing shoe molding in your home provides several benefits in terms of beauty and function. Moreover, the installation process is quite simple and straightforward. Here are some helpful tips to help you achieve the ultimate professional look.

Gather the right tools – Before embarking on the installation process, you want to gather all the tools needed for the job. These include a putty knife, a pneumatic nail gun, pencil, stain marker, woodblock & glue, measuring tape, a miter saw for cutting, a finish nailer, and a coping saw. You may need to consider using a pinner or nailer rather than a hammer and nails because of the job’s sensitivity.

Begin from the corner and work your way across the room – The next step is to mark the shoe molding measurements and cut the strips to length. Once you get the exact fit needed, start installing the pieces from a corner and continue to the rest of the room in a straight line. This will simplify the process of cutting the coping joints you need for the inner corners.

Attach the shoe molding firmly to the floor and baseboard – Push down the base shoe molding firmly to conform to the foundation for a seamless, no-gap fit. Similarly, press it against the baseboard to nail it in the right place. Fortunately, the shoe molding is relatively flexible, allowing for easy installation.

Cope inside corner trim – Insert finish nails across the baseboard to catch it appropriately. However, you should be careful not to push the nails under the baseboard gap rest it wouldn’t securely attach the molding.

Miter corners – Once you attach the shoe molding, you need to miter and glue corners. That could involve cutting the baseboard’s wood ends at equal angles, 45 degrees each, to form a flawless corner. Glue each end of the pieces before pressing the molding in place. The glue will help keep the corners intact.

Flatten protruding nails – When you use a brad nailer, although it’s rare, sometimes the nails might not sink to the correct depth. You can use a hammer to pound the protruding nails to a flat level.

Paint or stain the shoe molding – Lastly, you can touch up some paint or stain if necessary. If you notice any gaps on the molding pieces, fill them with wood putty to create an attractive and seamless look.

When you’re ready to tackle your own flooring project, contact us at Wood Source LLC or stop by our showroom. Our experts are here to help you every step of the way.

To install shoe moulding, also known as base shoe, it involves covering the gap between the baseboards and the floor. In addition, shoe moulding is a beautiful detail of a thin strip of wood. It is painted or stained to match your trim and if placed in the right angle, your floor and baseboard will look quite straight. Baseboards are usually straight, but floor coverings are not. Especially in older homes because sags between joists are a relatively familiar showing. Even in newer homes, it would still be difficult to make sure the floors are flat and smooth. Thus, fixing the gap is very important for this installation to work. Although it is not a clean solution, interior painters suggest injecting caulk to the baseboards, but installing shoe moulding is better.

Let’s dig into how to install shoe moulding!

How to install shoe molding

Shoe Moulding Installation

Shoe moulding sounds like a complicated task, but the installation is fairly easy. It is inexpensive and will give your floor a very polished and elegant look. There are two types of moulding: shoe and quarter-round. You will notice after installing them that while they look the same, the profiles are different. Based solely on the name, quarter-round looks like one-quarter of a full circle and the flat faces are the same width. he length of a quarter-round sticking out from the wall, is the same as its height. Shoe moulding, on the other hand, allows the trims to give off a finished look. Think of it as “hugging to the baseboard.”

Usage of shoe moulding Or Quarter Round

Shoe moulding and quarter-round are long lengths of wood that start off as long round dowels, then you can cut them into respective shapes. They are extra-lengthy so that you can use the entire wood to cover your walls. You can easily turn this extra-length wood into smaller pieces, but an interior painting company would advise against that, seeing as full-length gives a smoother look. Don’t worry though, the wood comes straight, but it can easily be bent during installation.

How to install shoe molding

How to install shoe moulding

  • Firstly, if you are removing old base moulding, use your utility knife to cut through paint that is stuck on the base moulding. That way, the paint is not chipping onto the baseboard as you try to pry it away from the base moulding.
  • With a hardened putty knife, loosen the base moulding by pushing it behind and under the base moulding. Be careful not to hinder the baseboard or the floor. Now, pry the moulding away from the baseboard using a flat bar and remove all the nails attached.
  • Now, you have the opportunity to sand and paint the baseboards. If they are in excellent shape, continue with the base moulding installation. Preparation is key though, so don’t forget to prep and apply a finish to them, before cutting the moldings to the right length. Then, gently sand your new wood mouldings, and lay them on a set of saw horses.

Four cutting and joining techniques

  1. End of run: When the base moulding ends at a door casing, you need to cut a 45 degree miter and butt the tip of it up against the object. For it to be successful, it needs to end at the same point the baseboard ends. When it is complete, do a light touch up of the ends, with the same finish on the face of the base moulding.
  2. Mid-run joint: Let’s say you have a long run that requires two pieces of molding: do not put together the two ends of moulding. However, you should use the miter cut (45 degrees) to both ends, so that they eventually overlap at the joint. This will not create a gap as the wood shrinks and expands.
  3. Outside corner: Cut two 45 degree miters and compare them on the outside corner. If the corner is not perfectly 90 degrees, you would have to crave the miters slightly greater or less than 45 degrees.
  4. Inside corner: On this last technique, run your base moulding all the way to the perpendicular baseboard corner. You do not need to miter the first piece. Instead, miter cut (45 degrees) the other piece coming into the corner. Then, using the coping saw, follow the curved edge of your miter cut to trim off the back part of the moulding.

How to install shoe molding

Materials Needed:

  • Shoe moulding
  • 2 inch finishing nails
  • Wood filler
  • Wood stain
  • Varnish
  • Sandpaper

Tools List:

  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Coping saw
  • Nail set
  • Utility knife/Putty knife
  • Flat bar

How to install shoe molding

Final steps

You are almost done installing shoe moulding! In the last few steps, use a utility knife to remove any wood that would prevent a tight fit into the corner. Place the mitered piece into the other piece that is flush on the wall. Now that you finally know how to handle the various types of cuts and joints, you can begin to instal the base molding from a corner. Then, slowly work around across the room. Cut each piece and put it in place. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting when you nail it. Drill the holes at an angle, so that the moulding is pulled shut to both the baseboard and floor. You are essentially nailing the moulding to the baseboard. Lastly, use two inch finishing nails and set them, while filling the holes with wood filler. You have now installed shoe moulding!

How to avoid common mistakes

To install shoe moulding , you need preparation and precision. The time it takes to complete this installation depends on if you are a beginner or have the help of an interior painting services. If you are a beginner, it will take you roughly 1 to 2 hours. If you have the help of an interior painting services, it would take roughly 30 mins to 1 hour. Always try to wear protective gear, such as eye protection, because you are dealing with heavy power tools. There are many common mistakes that beginners can make, especially during this particular installation. The biggest mistake is if you have quarter-round moulding and you install shoe moulding, it will not cover as much of your floor as quarter round. Instead, your new exposed part of the floor will not match the rest of the floor. A helpful tip is to access the entire perimeter of the room you want to install. That way, nothing can interfere with the task at hand.

I installed engineered bamboo flooring in my home office and have quarter round shoe molding to install to cover the expansion gap. Given how hard the trim is (I’ve bent nails installing the carpet reducer), can I use glue to fasten the molding to the baseboard? If so, what glue do you recommend?

How to install shoe molding

3 Answers 3

Shoe molding may have to be removed in the future to work on the floor or the wall. That’s fairly easy with nails. It’s fairly difficult with glue, unless you use something like hide glue that’s specifically intended to allow disassembly . and the techniques used for that would be hard to apply in situ to parts of a house.

Generally, don’t glue anything that may need to be serviced, unless you’re willing to risk having to destroy it to remove it.

If you where going to glue it You would need to use timber white glue from your local hardware. The problem with glueing is that you can’t get the glue on the floating floor since it needs to be able to move. An another problem is that if you have painted stuff the glue won’t stick as well

So saying that you are better off hiring a gas / or air nail gun. If you don’t have one. You will get it done in no time. An dont need to worry about making a mess with glue

You can also pre drill a pilot hole Use a drill bit a tiny bit smaller then the nails. You won’t have a problem bending nails this way.