Are you building a house or replacing trim and baseboards in your home? You probably want to know the difference between shoe molding vs quarter round. I didn’t know there was a difference between the two until I started doing soft remodels on my own builder grade home a couple years ago.
They look very similar, but quarter round and shoe molding are actually different pieces of trim. You’ll want to understand the difference and where each should be used so you know which one to choose.
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Shoe Molding VS Quarter Round
Shoe molding and quarter round are both types of molding that are used to cover gaps and imperfections between baseboards and flooring. However, there are some key differences between the two. Quarter Round is a 1/4 of a circle, hence the name, and shoe molding is slimmer. Here’s specifics:
- Shape: Shoe molding is typically thinner and has a more angular profile than quarter round. Quarter round, on the other hand, is thicker and has a more curved profile.
- Size: Shoe molding is typically 1/2 inch thick and 3/4 inch high. Quarter round is typically 3/4 inch thick and 1 inch high.
- Application: Shoe molding is typically used to cover gaps between baseboards and flooring. Quarter round is typically used to cover gaps between baseboards and walls, or to create a smooth transition between different types of flooring.
Overall, shoe molding is more decorative. It is a good choice for covering small gaps and imperfections. Quarter round is more of a finishing trim. It is a good choice for covering larger gaps and creating a smooth transition between different types of flooring.
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Here is the nitty gritty about shoe molding, when and where to use it, how to install it, etc.
What is Shoe Molding?
What is Shoe Molding exactly? Shoe molding can also be called base shoe. It is a thin strip of molding that is installed along the bottom of baseboards. This trim is used both as a decorative element and to hide any unevenness or gaps in between the baseboard and floor.
When Should I Use Shoe Molding?
There are times when shoe molding is good to use and other times when it should be avoided. Here is when to use shoe molding and not use shoe molding:
When to use shoe molding:
- To hide gaps between the baseboards and the floor. This can make your walls look cleaner and more finished.
- Step up the character in your home. There are many different styles of shoe molding available, so you can choose one that matches your style.
- Protect the baseboards from damage. This is goes for more high traffic areas like hallways and doorways.
When not to use shoe molding:
- In a bathroom with tile floors. There is no expansion and contraction of the tile, so there is no need to use shoe molding to hide gaps. It’s only necessary for decorative purposes.
- Over carpet is another place to avoid using shoe molding. Carpet hides the gaps between the baseboard and the floor. If you ever need to change the carpet, it would have to be removed also.
- Shoe molding can add visual weight to a room. If you are going for a more minimalist look, you may not want to use it.
How To Install Shoe Molding
Here’s the steps and some tips for installing shoe molding in your home:
- Measure the length of the wall. Use a tape measure to measure the length of the wall where you want to install the shoe molding.
- Cut the shoe molding to size. Use a miter saw or a miter box to cut the shoe molding to the right length.
- Miter the ends of the shoe molding. If you are installing the shoe molding at a corner, you will need to miter the ends of the shoe molding at a 45 degree angle to match up on inside and outside corners.
- Make sure of the orientation. Take note of the shorter side for the floor and the taller side for the wall and mark them on each piece of shoe molding so all the edges line up all along the wall.
- Attach the shoe molding. Press the shoe molding against the wall and secure in place with a nail gun and brad nails or hammer and nails.
- Use caulk to fill the gaps. If there are any gaps between the shoe molding and the wall, fill them with caulk.
- Paint or stain the shoe molding. If you want to change the color of the shoe molding, you can paint or stain it.
-Paint the shoe molding or stain it if you are lucky enough to have original stained wood trim. Leaving it the same color as the floor looks unfinished and weird. Yes, I said it. WEIRD!
-On a door frame where the baseboards end, cut the shoe molding at an angle for a professional, finished look.
-Remember that shoe molding isn’t always needed for baseboards, it is more of a filler and design choice. Skip this detail if it’s not in the budget and the baseboards will still look great.
What Is Quarter Round?
Quarter round is a small, curved piece of trim that is used to cover the gap between the baseboard and the floor. It is called quarter round because it is a quarter of a circle or a quarter of the way round the circle, hence the name.
This trim is available in different materials. Wood, MDF, and PVC. Wood is best if you intend to stain. MDF is a cheaper option that works great for paint or plain white. PVC is like a plastic option that is great in areas expected to have moisture or close to exterior doors.
Where Should I Use Quarter Round?
Here is a list of places where to use and not to use quarter round. It is slightly chunkier than shoe molding, and although it is not the same as base shoe, it can serve the same purpose.
When to use Quarter Round:
- To cover larger gaps between floors and baseboards because quarter round is larger than it’s alternative, shoe molding.
- When ceilings are higher or hallways or rooms are larger. Then use quarter round may feel more proportionate.
- If you want a chunkier trim in front of the baseboard as opposed to the slimmer profile of the shoe molding.
When not to use Quarter Round:
- I would avoid using it in a bathroom unless you really want this extra detail in there. Tip: Use PVC to keep the mold and water out of the gaps.
- If there is no gap between the floor and the baseboards.
- Don’t put any trim over carpet because the carpet already fills the gap between baseboard and floor
- When going for a more modern look, leave the extra trim off
- Don’t over stretch yourself, this is a good item to leave off if the budget is too tight.
How Do I Install Quarter Round?
The process for installing shoe molding vs quarter round is essentially the same process. The only difference is it doesn’t matter which side is the top or bottom on the quarter round because it has flat edges that measure the same on both sides.
-Don’t use glue when installing either shoe molding or quarter round. It makes it difficult to remove without having to replace the whole baseboard as well.
-Use 2 in brad nails when installing quarter round vs shoe molding because it is a bit thicker.
-Paint the quarter round after it is installed so you don’t have to do touch ups
Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round are very similar, but have some differences. Quarter round has more of a purpose by filling larger gaps between baseboards and floors. Shoe molding can serve the same purpose, but also can be decorative. It is slimmer and taller than quarter round.
Which one is best to use is up to your choice and circumstance. If you have larger gaps or a larger room, I would choose the larger trim (quarter round). Smaller spaces or decorative purposes, use shoe molding (also called base shoe).
MDF material cuts cost. PVC is cheaper also, use this if need to put in bathroom. Wood is the only option if wanting to be stained. Quarter Round and Shoe molding both come in all three materials. If costs need to be cut, leave the trim off all together. Caulk edges for a finished look. Hope this helps!