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How to Install Shoe Molding in House

Shoe molding is your go-to trim when it comes to concealing the flaw and gap beneath the baseboard. Keep on reading to know how to install it properly for a striking finish.

What Is Shoe Molding?

Before learning about how to install shoe molding properly, you had better know what it is and why you should incorporate it into your baseboard finishing trim. Shoe molding or base shoe is a small and thin strip of molding that will give the interior of your house a more finished look. People often mix it up with quarter round as both of them are used to conceal the gap under the baseboard, giving a sleek look to space.

A quarter-round molding, as the name suggests, looks like a one-quarter of a full circle. It has two flat sides that share the same width and length. Just imagine a round dowel that has been cut into four pie pieces from the end. As a result, you will get four quarter-round moldings. On the other hand, a base shoe is slightly different from a quarter round. If looking at it from the side, you will find that the height is greater than the length protruding from the wall.

The Benefits of Installing Base Shoe

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Many homeowners and carpenters prefer a base shoe to quarter round for various reasons. Shoe molding features a taller and narrower profile, making it stay closer to the baseboard and giving it a sleeker look. Besides adding a sleeker look to the baseboard, the flexibility of a base shoe allows it to meander up and down to the floor. It hides the unevenness better than just a baseboard. You can do this job with quarter-round moldings too. But they tend to give a fatter look to the baseboard as they mount farther from it comparing to its counterpart.

Types of Shoe Molding

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Common shoe molding that you usually find in a home-improvement store ranges from 7/16″ to ½” in widths and from ¾” to 1″ in height. It is made of various kinds of materials to meet your need and match the decor well.

  • Wood is very versatile. Many pieces of furniture and trims are made of it, including shoe molding. Pine base shoe is quite affordable. You can get it for 5 or 6 bucks per eight-foot section. While hardwood molding (made of ash, oak, and walnut) will set you back $6 to $10 per eight-foot section. They can be stained to match your baseboard and trim.
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) base shoe is a combination of resin and sawdust. It is as affordable as pine because it costs $5 to $6 per eight-foot section. If you happen to have many uneven gaps under your baseboard, this type of shoe molding can be your safe bet as it is more flexible than wood. The drawback of MDF molding is it does not get along well with stain.
  • If you are looking for a very inexpensive base shoe, go for polystyrene. It will set you back around $2 to $3 per eight-foot section. It can be painted, too. However, it is not as durable as MDF and wood. If it gets bumped, it will easily form a notch.

How to Install Shoe Molding on an Uneven Floor

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Are you going to install the base shoe by yourself? Hold up! Check out these tips before doing it so that you can get a nice finish without breaking a sweat.

Step 1: Pre-Finish the Base Shoe

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Some people prefer to apply finish to the shoe molding before cutting and installing it. They usually stain, varnish, or paint it to match the existing trim. It is said that applying finish before the cutting and installing process is much easier. However, it is not always necessary, though. If you opt for applying finish beforehand, give your base shoe a light sanding to smooth and clean it well.

Remove the dust from it by running a tack cloth down the length. Now, you can stain or paint id as you please. Since the base shoe is small, applying stain using paintbrush can be a little bit tricky. Try wiping on the stain with a rag, instead.

Step 2: Cut the Trim

Measure out the length of your baseboard. If you need to join two molding pieces, cut it off with a miter saw at a 45-degree angle. In case you do not have any miter saw at home, you can do it with a miter box and hacksaw. Just make sure you cut it off at a 45-degree angle.

Step 3: Nail the Trim

Once you cut the trims, you can nail them to the baseboard. It is not a difficult task. You still need to be careful, though. Make sure you nail the shoe molding at the spot that has contact with the baseboard, not the gap underneath.

Step 4: Seal the Hole

The holes made by the nail are horrible, and it can ruin the finished look. You can overcome this problem by applying some patch putty. Get the patch putty. Take a small amount of it using your finger. Simply apply it to the holes. You can also use it to fill in the joints. You may find some excess putty when applying it. Do not forget to wipe it away. Let it sit for a while until it is dry.

Step 5: Paint the Trim (If you skip the first step)

If you do not stain or paint your base shoe previously, now it is the right time for you to do it.
This process is going to be messy so, once the putty is dry, run painter’s tape on the floor along with the base shoe. You do not want to have a pesky stain on it, do you?

Make sure you use a long brush that meant to paint the trim. Other types of brushes might do, but it will not work like a charm due to the small size of the base shoe. And that is it! Installing shoe molding is not that hard. But you still have to do it carefully and thoroughly, though. You have to know the material you need for this job and prepare all the tools. Good luck!

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