What is Shoe Molding?

What is Shoe Molding?

Shoe molding, or ‘base shoe,’ is a slim strip that aligns with the lower edge of baseboards. It’s meant to mask any inconsistencies or gaps between the baseboard and the floor, while also creating that aesthetic appeal. Learn more about shoe molding: what it is, how it differs from quarter rounds, why you need it, and how to install it.

Why do you need shoe molding?

Wood floors need room to expand along walls and vertical structures. With this in mind, shoe molding has many jobs: 

  • Hiding expansion areas
  • Covering cut ends
  • Dealing with height differences or floor transitions
  • Adding a nice finishing touch

If you skip shoe moldings, you might end up with ugly gaps between walls and floors, causing energy waste from drafts sneaking in through these openings.

What is the difference between shoe moldings and quarter rounds?

There are two primary types of molding frequently used: quarter-round and shoe molding. Although they might seem alike once installed, they have distinct profiles.

  1. Both types have a 90° angle on the back, but shoe molding flaunts a flatter profile compared to the perfect quarter-radius of quarter-round. Moreover, shoe molding can be taller and comes in various styles. This molding serves as a versatile cover for baseboards, tackling numerous challenges homeowners face when trying to hide seams and discrepancies between flooring and baseboards.
  2. On the flip side, quarter-round is slightly larger than shoe molding, showing a complete one-quarter of a round dowel. It maintains consistent width and depth, resulting in a sleek and well-defined appearance. Its smooth curved edge adds a professional touch to flooring and countertop installations. Quarter-round moldings come in various sizes too, so as to accommodate different requirements.
What is Shoe Molding?
via EasiKlip

What are they made of?

Shoe molding can be made of a wide array of material options, based on the project and the client’s preferences and needs. Among the most common materials are wood, polystyrene, and MDF.

  1. Wood stands as a great choice among homeowners due to its natural wood-grain aesthetics. Known for its eco-friendliness, wood is a renewable and sustainable resource. It’s resistant to cracking and warping post-installation, ensuring longevity. However, wood can present challenges during installation and may show some natural imperfections, leading to a textured appearance. 

Various wood species, including Hemlock, Poplar, Oak, and Pine, offer an extensive palette of textures and hues to complement or contrast with different interior designs.

  1. Polystyrene finds its place in molding and baseboard applications due to its lightweight, durable nature. Its ease of installation and resistance to moisture make it a practical choice for various settings. 

Still, its texture may lack the desired sophistication associated with other materials, potentially impacting the overall luxury appeal sought by homeowners in their molding choices.

  1. MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) has become increasingly favored by designers, contractors, and homeowners, due to its versatility. MDF shoe moldings have great stability, which minimizes splitting during installation. Another advantage of this material is that it’s budget-friendly.

How to install shoe molding?

Shoe molding should always be installed after the floors are installed. 

Start by measuring and marking the first trim piece. Position the molding across the wall for an outside corner or measure the entire length of the wall for inside corners. Then, make light angle marks to indicate the direction of the miter cuts. Next, set the saw blade to 45 degrees and cut the trim piece on the miter box or saw base, according to the angle marks. Then, test-fit the first piece by placing it in its position on the wall. If it’s slightly long, trim a thin slice off one end.

Continue by measuring, marking, and cutting the second piece. Cut the angles correctly to match the miter angle of the first piece. Test-fit the second piece.

Now, it’s time to nail the first two pieces and continue measuring, cutting, and nailing trim pieces around the room, one at a time.

Create a return piece to finish the ends. For this, you need to cut a piece of molding longer than needed, then mark and cut it at a 45-degree angle. Glue it in place.

Finish the installation by tapping any protruding nail heads below the surface. Remove painter’s tape and touch up paint or finish as necessary. Make sure you fill any gaps with wood putty or caulk.

The choice to install shoe molding typically boils down to personal preference. It hinges on the preferences of your clients and their take on the expansion gap between the floors and the wall. If homeowners or business owners are concerned about the expansion gap, it may be wise to consider installing shoe molding. Reach out to First Atlanta Flooring for further inquiries and expert guidance.