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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
Good luck with a frustrating project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heart surgery pending?
Read up and prepare.
Download the book $10
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.
That goes without saying. Even my invalid points have some redeeming
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.
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.
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