Uses for Quarter-Round and Shoe Moldings
Both quarter-round and shoe moldings are long, flexible lengths of wood such as hemlock, oak, or pine, MDF, or even polystyrene. Both trim moldings start as long round dowels that are then rip-cut and milled into their respective shapes.
Both types of molding are stocked in very long lengths, racked vertically at the home improvement store or lumber center. This extra-long length is so that you can use full-length pieces to cover most walls. Although you can join shorter pieces to cover a long wall using scarf joints, most carpenters try to avoid this since full-length pieces give a smoother look.
Shoe and quarter-round moldings are quite flexible, intended to bend and conform to the floor profile. Don’t worry about buying perfectly straight pieces; they can easily be bent into place during installation.
Baseboards tend to be straight and inflexible, yet floor coverings often are not. Sags between joists are common in older homes, and even in new installations, it can be difficult to get the floors perfectly flat and smooth. How to fix this gap?
Sometimes, homeowners and even installers will inject caulk in this space. Caulked baseboards are usually preferable to gapped baseboards that are unsightly and permit energy-wasting drafts, but they are still not the most elegant solution. Installing quarter-round or shoe molding is a better option.
What Is Shoe Molding?
Also known as “base shoe,” shoe molding is a decorative detail that consists of a thin strip of wood that’s either painted or stained to match the trim, and it fits in the right angle created by the floor and baseboard.
Baseboard molding installations are very often finished off with an additional thin piece of molding called quarter-round or shoe molding that covers the gap between the bottom of the baseboards and the floor. It’s an easy installation that costs little and gives your floors a precise, polished look. Carpenters like to use these bottom trim pieces because they reduce the need for complicated baseboard scribe cuts.