View Full Version : Finish Carpentry Question
02-18-2003, 11:06 AM
I've finished installing the base moldings in my living room/dining room. Because the floor is not straight, there are some gaps between the molding and the floor. I plan to cover the gaps with a quarter-round molding.
The book that I have on finish carpentry says to nail the quarter-round to the molding, not to the floor. That seems backward to me. Seems to me that if you nailed the quarter-round to the molding, then when the molding moved, a gap would show.
Oh wise ones, what is the right way to do this?
02-18-2003, 11:10 AM
Nail it to the moulding. If you nail it to the floor, seasonal changes will cause problems.
Scott...don't know what's right, but the quarter-round that I've pulled in my LR and DR, was nailed to the molding.
02-18-2003, 11:11 AM
If you nail the moulding to the floor, assuming it is a wood strip planked floor, the moulding will move with the floor and the paint line will always be broken. As the floor moves it will eventually pull away from the base moulding. Nail the quarter round to the base board and let the floor move around underneath it.
That quarter round is called 'shoe', and it is actually different than quarter round (a different shape). You have to ask for 'shoe' at the lumber yard. Yes, you nail it to the baseboard to allow the hard wood floor to expand & contract & actually slide back & forth under the shoe with seasonal changes.
Didn't mean to repeat, I was typinhg when Cedarhill responded ;)
[ 02-18-2003, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: nedL ]
02-18-2003, 11:44 AM
To amplify what Nedl said : quarter round will look clumsy . Shoe mold has quite a different profile , taller than it is wide . This looks better and is easier to nail to the baseboard as intended.
Quarter round is commonly used with base moldings that do not have a cap molding. It give a more minimalist appearance to the molding, but still acts to protect the base molding.
Alan D. Hyde
02-18-2003, 12:26 PM
Shoe molding will be perhaps half as wide as it is tall.
Quarter round is has a cross-section which is one-quarter of a circle--- just as wide as it is high. Its architectural effect will be inappropriate generally, and will communicate to the knowing observer that the guy who put it on didn't know what he was doing. It's worse than a novice boater down at the docks calling his fender a bumper...
One sees a lot of it used as shoe molding these days.
[ 02-18-2003, 01:27 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]
02-18-2003, 12:27 PM
Thanks, guys. This has been helpful.
Here's what my base looks like:
Instead of using a quarter-round, I'm going to use a base cap that matches the base:
Should look good, doncha think?
02-18-2003, 12:34 PM
FYI, here's the casing.
The walls are a very pale green/grey. The trim will be painted white. Floors are red oak.
Alan D. Hyde
02-18-2003, 12:47 PM
Here's some generic shoe molding. The taller colonial style with the upper inner corner worked with a molding plane looks more attractive (in the right house) to my eyes, but so far I haven't found a photo on the net...
02-18-2003, 12:49 PM
Alan, are you saying I shouldn't use the one posted above?
02-18-2003, 01:00 PM
That's a very fancy molding for the trim Scott, with that shadowline at the floor, how you gonna clean underneath that? Or is that not your worry? Just the details, right? If you jointed the shadowline relief away and scribed it to the floor, I'm betting it would look better than the trim at the Biltmore Estates :D !
By the way Scott, you did yourself out yet? How many inches total in your backyard? I've got 28" of fluffy white stuff x 3/4 acre for sale, interested? I'm trying to supplement my income for a new project tongue.gif .
Alan D. Hyde
02-18-2003, 01:02 PM
Scott, I'd use whatever pleases your eye; however, what you illustrate is narrower at the base than it is above the base.
When resting against the baseboard, there will be a recess between the bulge of the shoe molding and the floor of the room.
This recess may be difficult to keep clean.
P.S. Here's a good glossary I came across:
And one more interesting link:
[ 02-19-2003, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]
02-18-2003, 01:28 PM
Typically the shoe moulding is quite simple. It takes a lot of abuse from feet and brooms and vacuum cleaners, so it tends to be simple and chunky like a basic quarter round or a shoe moulding as shown. I think that the base cap will look awkward on the floor and will be a dust catcher as well. The casing you have chosen is a very pretty profile and will look right at home with the base and cap that you have, it will look even a little classier if you add some simple plinth blocks at the jamb legs. Keep the shoe moulding simple and let the casing be the focal point. If ats all going to be painted buy paint grade poplar. It is cheaper than pine and takes paint much better. It tends to be a little more stable dimensionally, good for New England temperature and humidity changes.
02-18-2003, 01:36 PM
Thanks again. I see your point about using something simple. I suppose the best bet would be a plain shoe molding like the one Alan's post.
I'm just an architecteral cretin.
02-18-2003, 09:06 PM
Heh, heh, heh.... now this sounds like a lot of good advice (and it is) from a bunch of house carpenters. Seems to me a real he-man boatbuilder wouldn't stoop to nailing on a hunk of trim to cover a bad joint! Oh no! He'd whip out his trusty compass and run it along the floor with the baseboard in place and then cut to the line, just like he was hanging a plank. No? LOL
02-18-2003, 09:28 PM
Scott, TRUST ME. Around here, we use "shoe" and by god, we nail it to the ******* floor. You need to paint the baseboard first, and paint the "shoe" separate. But nail the "shoe" to the floor. The "shoe" floats up and down with the floor during the seasonal movements, but it always stays flat to the base... I've done hundreds of baseboard jobs in CT. This is how it's done.
02-18-2003, 09:30 PM
( since when is "daggammed" a profanity?) :D
02-18-2003, 10:11 PM
I think the system looks at the person using the word to determine whether it's a profanity. :rolleyes:
Scott, as said above the floor will move a LOT with changes in moisture content through the seasons. Your baseboard will also move, but only a wee bit.
The trim piece that you are proposing would look fine, but I'd recommend that you rip it at the fat part and eliminate the undercut. I would not use a fancy piece like that, however, if you are planning to install wall-to-wall carpeting.
Peter Malcolm Jardine
02-18-2003, 10:28 PM
By yiminy, I still tink we have to hear from a Finnish carpenter still. :D
You know it's february when a thread about whether to nail to the floor or the moulding lasts this long :rolleyes: :D
02-18-2003, 11:19 PM
I prefer to scribe the baseboard to the floor and skip the shoe molding. The way I learned it the shoe molding was only put in much later to hide the poor job the floor re-finisher did around the edges when the floor was sanded. If you cut a back bevel on the bottom edge of the baseboard on the table saw it's really a snap to block plane to a scribed line. I really think it's a much cleaner look.
02-19-2003, 12:50 AM
I always use a concave piece at the floor.
In modern homes it is unlikely that a glued or nailed floor will move. For the floor to move the glue or the nails will have to shear.
I don't even think a floating floor will move..
Ian G Wright
02-19-2003, 02:03 AM
Lay a really thick wall to wall carpet,,,,,,,
02-19-2003, 06:15 AM
Originally posted by Mrleft8:
Scott, TRUST ME. Around here, we use "shoe" and by god, we nail it to the ******* floor. You need to paint the baseboard first, and paint the "shoe" separate. But nail the "shoe" to the floor. The "shoe" floats up and down with the floor during the seasonal movements, but it always stays flat to the base... I've done hundreds of baseboard jobs in CT. This is how it's done.That's exactly what I was originally thinking of doing, until I read in a finish carpentry book to do otherwise. Our floors move a lot. I'm sure it was straight when built 50 years ago. Now, one part of the floor is so wavy, that one end of a 10 foot moulding was over an inch off the floor. I had to scribe and plane that one.
God, I can't wait to get back to working on the boat.
Excuse me, Scott, but where is the photo album of this project?
02-19-2003, 07:28 AM
It's not so much that the floor boards are moving, as it is that the joists that the floor boards are attached to, are moving. My ten year old first floor moves about 3/8" over a yearly cycle.
If you attach the shoe to the base right now, in low moisture season, it might be fine. On the other hand, it might get crushed or bent by august...
02-19-2003, 07:55 AM
Shoe moulding serves a number of purposes. Assuming that your floor is a typical oak strip, I am speaking about new england here, the floor will swell and contract across the grain thus raising the level of the floor and making the floor wider in one dimension. A red oak strip floor will grtow enough to push the wall plate off the floor if there is not enough room for it. Hence the large gap around the wall plates and studs. As your house ages the floors become less than flat and level planes. If you install a baseboard it is preferable to install it level and straight, not following the vagaries of the floor, especially as the house gets older. In this case the shoe is pressed tight to the floor to close any gaps that appear. It is much less apparent than if the top of your baseboard goes up and down.
In newer construction, especially with the advent of laminated plank floors like Pergo, the shoe keeps the floor in place as it floats. Even the new laminated floors grow considerably across the grain. If you jam the baseboard down tight against it it will buckle as it swells.
If you have your floors refinished there will always be an edge where the edger pad meets the baseboard. If you take off the baseboard then you have to repaint the walls when you reinstall it at the new lower elevation-shoe moulding fills the gap.
Never, ever ever nail the shoe to the floor. For starters if you try to drive a four penny finish into an oak floor without a pilot hole you will get nowhere, and if you nail the sho to floor the floor will move the shoe and eventually it will pull away and leave unsightly gaps at the floor and the base.
The top of the baseboard should be straight (and preferably level, but straight is more important.) The bottom of the baseboard "floats" above the flooring, maybe an eighth of an inch, and it is trimmed to fit the floor, not needing to be straight (or have that eighth of an inch be constant.)
The shoe covers the variation of the bottom of the baseboard, and follows the floor, about a thirty-second of an inch above it (bits of cardboard holding it above the flooring while it's nailed into the baseboard, then pulled out.)
Both should be finished before installation.
02-19-2003, 06:32 PM
Think about how wood moves and the relationship between the joists, the floor, the studs and the baseboard.
If the shoe is nailed to the floor, it will not be straight. Wood moves cross grain -- the floor movement will be largely horizontal.
The joists supporting the floor however, also move cross-grain. Their motion will be largely vertical. As the joists independently expand and contract, the floor will rise and fall and probably not do so uniformly. Each joist moves separately, do the floor will not be flat and level.
Consequently, the show, if fastened to the flor will not be straight and will be visually at odds with the baseboard moulding (which is straight).
Also, don't forget the studs are also changing dimension and they too expand cross-grain. Their expansion/contraction moves the wall in and out. To which the base board is attached. If the shoe is fastened to the floor, guess what happens when the wall expands into the shoe: either the shoe gets broken or the nails are loosened.
Hence, the rule to fasten the shoe to the molding.
02-19-2003, 09:29 PM
Simple math. Flooring is usually 3/4" thick. It doesn't move much. Joists are 8-12" thick. They move a lot. Walls are 4-6" thick but are usually very well separated from the influences of moisture (unless you have a junk house, and in which case you ought to unload it as fat as possible anyway.... right Dingo?).
I've been doing this for over 24 years. Nail the shoe to the floor.
02-20-2003, 07:12 AM
Never, ever ever nail the shoe to the floor.....
Nail the shoe to the floorThere, does that answer your question?
Flip a coin.
What do the experts say?
This Old House
"11. Press the shoe molding down tight to the floor, then fasten it to the base rail with 1 1/4-in. finishing nails spaced 12 to 16 in. apart."
= = = = =
02-21-2003, 02:18 PM
No self respecting finish man would allow a shoe to be displayed unless it is because a floor has been laid AFTER the base has been installed, such as a remodel from carpet to hardwood where the owner refuses to remove the original base because of cost. A shoe is a piece of trim to hide the gap needed for the movement of the hardwood during seasonal changes in humidity level. If you are simply changing the baseboard on top of an already installed floor.....scribe the line of the floor onto the bottom of the new base and get yer plane a workin. No need to hide something that ain't there!
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