Baseboard gaps

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Finally got the maple floor down and am now on the baseboards. Trouble is, there are small gaps at various points between the floor and the baseboard, and being maple they really stand out. The floor is not perfectly level, not far out, the gaps are small (1/8th here or there) but very noticeable (base is white). I want to avoid shoe molding if I can (just don't like the look of the stuff), although I think that would be flexible enough to bridge all the gaps. I could caulk it, but am not sure how noticeable it would be. Anyone got any other ideas?
TIA Cubby.
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I think that that is the whole purpose behind using a quarter-round shoe molding, although if you want to avoid that you could buy baseboard taller than you want, tack in place, then scribe to contour with a compass and cut with jigsaw. sounds like a lot of work to me though
nate
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Shoe molding serves a couple of purposes. It hides the gaps because it is flexible, keeps furniture from banging into the baseboard (shoe is easier and cheaper to refinish/replace than baseboard), and is easy to remove and reinstall/replace so when it's time to refinish that nice maple floor (it will happen), there will be a better refinishing result.
Caulking is a bad idea. Wood floors have to move and the caulk, besides being a kind of glaring gap-filling band-aid, might cause problems with the flooring, baseboard and/or floor finish.
R
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On 2/15/2011 5:17 PM, cubby wrote:

We caulked after tiling our floors, but it was after having the bb undercut, so the gap was even all around. If the gap is irregular, and you absolutely do not want a trim molding, then caulk would be the only other option (aside from replacing baseboard). White paintable caulk, to match the baseboard, would be my choice.
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In spewed forth:

Use shoe molding but stain it the color of the floor.
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?

Nothing says "HACK" more than caulk. It has no place on inside trim by a skilled carpenter. I'd go with a shoe or quarter round.
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On 2/15/2011 9:55 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Caulk, with skill, does fine unless the worker is a hack :o) Very easy to cover gaps at top or bottom of baseboards, and there is a rare wall that doesn't have a wave somewhere.
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Holy cow, this group never ceases to amaze me. Such informed debate about a question so obscure that everyone outside the AHR community would probably think us insane.
Sincere thanks to all of you for your input, all valuable. I think it's going to have to be shoe molding. My resistance to it was mainly based on a feeling that it should be something that can be avoided (with accurate cuts around the edge of the walls). Hadn't thought about the protection it can give to the baseboards (SWMBO throws that Dyson around pretty hard and the kids with hot wheels flying all over the place...). I think I've seen some pretty bendy vinyl stuff in one of the local stores - should work just great and much quicker than screwing around with caulk (Nate, I felt a twinge in my spine when I read your note).
Thanks all.
Cub.
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cubby wrote:

Is easy fix if you know the trick. I'll try to be clear.
You'll need a compass (the thing that draws circles).
Crawl around on the floor and open the compass to the widest gap between the baseboard and the floor.
With that setting, now draw a line the length of the baseboard. This is where and how much baseboard you have to remove - with a band saw or belt sander - to get the baseboard flush with the floor.
If you visualize what's going on, the process makes sense. If your mental picture is not clear, say so and I'll try another tack.
Good luck.
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I get it, and am sure this is the most "proper" way of doing it, but to be honest I'm worried I'd make a mess of it, end up ruining a few lengths, much swearing, etc. Maybe it would be doable if I had helpers to keep the boards pressed firmly up against the wall and held completely still....but I don't. And even then I suspect I would end up looking at it and spotting imperfections that I would want to go back and deal with... Also must be difficult when handling joins (I'm using 8 foot lengths and some of the walls are over two pieces long). But thanks for the input. I will use this technique for the base to my closet.
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cubby wrote:

Okay, but you have only three choices:
* Cut or sand away the low points (my method) * Fill in the high gaps with caulk, grout, or PlayDo. * Cover the unsightly - and dirt collecting - gaps with shoe molding.
Well, four if you count * Live with it.
Working alone, I have the same difficulties as you worry about. My solution was several stacks of books against the molding to hold it upright.
Do the closet first with a view toward honing your technique and evaluating the results.
Good luck with a frustrating project.
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On 2/15/2011 10:22 PM, HeyBub wrote:

Installing flooring with existing baseboards would be better done by undercutting the baseboards. I was all ready to rip off the baseboards prior to tiling our liv/din rooms. Tile contractor advised undercutting, and he had a sub who did only that. Didn't add a whole lot to the total cost, and the trim was just right for the added thickness of the tile to the floor. A narrow bead of caulk all the way around fixed the gap just fine, taking care (obsessing) to tape all way around and not let caulk get under the tape at the grout joints on the tile. Our baseboards were newly painted, and the undercutting made nary a scratch. In addition, caulk keeps the baseboard from soaking up water when mopping the floor or a spill...when our washer hose busted and flooded dining/kitchen/util rooms, the caulk kept the water from spreading into bedroom.
Some of our neighbors who tiled tiled up to baseboards/trim and then piled in grout around edges...looked like crap.
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How big and how thick are your baseboards? If you get baseboards thin and not that tall (maybe 2 1/4"- 2 1/2") they have some 'give" which will allow you to flex them downwards to the floor. You can't do that with big moldings. Otherwise you can try flexible molding.
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Yeah, they're 5" boards, MDF. Not my favorite material, but the best profile I could find for a decent price. Have a bit of give, but not enough. I tried sawing slits into the back in the places where I needed kinks, but didn't do much. At least with taller boards you won't notice the undulations if I go with shoe molding. Cheers
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If you have already put the baseboards on, you're hosed. If not, they are not a lot of trouble, but a bit of time to shape on a drum sander table and follow the contour of the floor. With a little home made jig, you can get it really close. They look great compared to having gaps, or the other alternative of another piece of molding that is just going to get gungy with time and break apart.
Steve
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Shoe molding breaks apart? Why? As far as the grungy, if the shoe gets grungy so would the baseboard. That's a maintenance issue and shoe molding doesn't really affect maintenance at all.
Wood floors get refinished and that's where omitting the shoe molding will run you into problems. If you refinish your own floors and are careful, it probably won't be much of an issue, but if you hire it out it most likely will be. Shoe molding provides necessary fudge factor in a few areas.
Some of the problems shoe molding addresses: -Without shoe molding the floor refinisher can easily bump his sander against the baseboard trying to get right up to the baseboard and leave a little divot in it. -The floor refinisher will run polyurethane up onto the baseboard trying to get that last little bit. -The floor needs room to expand and contract - generally 1/2" on not too wide runs of flooring. Depending on what baseboard was installed that might leave 1/4" or less of cover - might be enough, might not. -Pulling shoe molding is simple and quick, and if a piece breaks, it's simple and quick to replace it - baseboards, not so much.
I've done rooms without shoe molding and for the reasons above, plus some others (access for running wiring in a difficult house), I made the baseboards removable. PIA, but I didn't want someone down the road messing up the nice floor or the nice wood baseboard.
You mention using a drum sander to shape the edge if not using shoe molding. That leaves a square edge and the baseboard only has to touch the flooring at the front edge, so I undercut the baseboard.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

Your points are certainly valid.
If I was faced with a floor refinish, I'd remove the baseboards.
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Would there be any other way if you wanted to do it right, that is?
Steve
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That goes without saying. Even my invalid points have some redeeming qualities. ;)

Say what? If you're talking about painted baseboards, and cheap little ones, maybe. Anything else would add 50% - 100% to the floor refinishing job time and open up a can of worms.
Why reinvent the wheel? The shoe moldings are there for a number of good reasons. The only reason that someone wouldn't want them would be the aesthetics. Unless you come up with a construction detail that addresses the things you'd lose by omitting the shoe, it's just pissing into the wind.
R
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On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 07:54:16 -0800 (PST), RicodJour

What you *shouldn't* do is have the floors sanded first then decide to pull the baseboards, as I did. They sanded/varnished right to the shoe. Nice job. Too nice. We wanted new base/shoe to match the new floor. We didn't get the work sequence right.
--Vic
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