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Shoe molding and quarter round are very similar, almost identical some would say. You can even interchange one with the other, in some cases. Still, they come with their own specific uses. Both of them are popular molding types.
Both these practices offer architectural “curve appeal” to any room or interior space. They help you avoid abrupt transitions that can occur between floors and walls or countertops and their adjoining surfaces. With either shoe molding or quarter round, you will create a smooth transition, one that looks highly professional.
Main Differences between Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round
The main differences between Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round are:
- Shoe molding has a less-pronounced curve, whereas quarter round molding features a more prominent curve;
- Shoe molding features a more squat profile, whereas quarter round molding displays a perfect quarter radius;
- Shoe molding isn’t as versatile, whereas quarter round molding comes in many available sizes
- Shoe molding is only ½ inches, whereas quarter round molding has a width of ¾ inches.
Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round – What Are They?
What Is Shoe Molding?
She molding represents a trimming option that you can use next to baseboards or walls. It is similar to quarter round molding and it features a curved edge. These pieces are used as a form of smooth transition between the materials that are placed on the floor and the adjoining walls.
One thing that makes shoe molding stand out is its less-pronounced curve. Shoe molding’s standard width is ½ inch.
What Is Quarter Round Molding?
Quarter round molding is used, more or less, for the same purpose as shoe molding. It is placed along fixed surfaces like baseboards and walls. These pieces should cover the gap between the surface of the floor and its adjoining walls. It can also be used for countertop surfaces and backsplashes.
Most of these molding pieces are manufactured of wood. In a cross-section, you can see that this molding piece has a curved edge and a shape that resembles ¾ of a circle. Its curved edge that’s facing outward becomes visible as soon as you install the piece.
You can leave a quarter-round piece as it is or you can stain or paint it. These units are sold in long strips of about 7 feet and you’ll have to cut them before installation.
Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round – Brief Overview
Both shoe molding and quarter round trims provide a professional look and a smooth appearance to countertop and flooring installations. They can be used with a wide range of materials such as wood, concrete, natural stone tiles, and even laminate. Most of these pieces are made of either wood veneers or solid wood.
You can paint them or leave them untreated; it’s your choice and it depends on your preferences and personal taste. Standard sizes measure less than one inch in width. This particular feature makes both shoe molding and quarter round pieces easy to cut and customizable.
Both moldings come with curved edges. However, their curves have different sizes and this can make a huge difference. If you’re looking for a more pronounced and well-rounded edge, then you should opt for quarter-round molding. It is recommended for those spaces in which shape plays an important role as a visual advantage: along flooring baseboards and countertops.
Quarter-round molding also works perfectly for doorframes or window casings when you want to build decorative elements due to their pronounced circular shape.
At the same time, shoe molding is an excellent option when you want to achieve a curved yet less-pronounced molding. You can use it to fill gaps between steps and in all the other situations in which you need a trim that’s also more obscure.
How to Install Shoe Molding and Quarter-Round Molding
Both these molding types can truly improve the overall appearance of a room. They cover natural gaps and they offer a more professional look. You can install either one of these two molding options easily and quickly, with just a few woodworking tools. Follow the steps mentioned below to make sure you’re doing a good job.
1. Gather Your Tools
Before you start, make sure to gather all the necessary tools and place them within your reach. Luckily, you won’t need too many items. Here are the things you must have:
- A utility knife;
- A measuring tape;
- A putty knife;
- A pneumatic nail gun;
- A saw;
- A miter box.
Additional home improvement tools you may need are:
- A nail crayon;
- A nail setter;
These extra things come in handy when you want to make the molding look professional and finished. In some cases, you may have to drill a few pilot holes where the nails are supposed to go but that’s only necessary when the molding is either thin or brittle.
2. Remove the Original Molding
First, loosen the existing molding using the utility knife. Cut through the old paint that holds the molding onto the baseboard but do it slowly and carefully in order to avoid chipping the paint that was applied on the baseboard.
Then, pull the molding away with the putty knife. Push the tool behind and right under the base molding. With a flat bar, raise the molding and remove it. Now, you can pull out all the nails.
It is time to prepare the wall for the new molding. After the old molding is removed, you can sand and paint the baseboards, especially if you discover that they aren’t in good shape.
Before installing it, you must also prepare the new molding. You will have to measure and cut the molding pieces to length, but first, you have to apply a finish on their surfaces. Take each piece of new molding and sand it lightly. Finish it by placing each piece on a saw horse set in order to match the molding to your floors.
The finishing process can be done through a couple of coats of varnish.
3. Cut the Necessary Molding Pieces
Measure the entire room or area that you will cover in shoe or quarter round molding. Use a tape measure along the wall. Write down those numbers and make sure to go around from corner to corner. This step will help you figure out exactly how much molding you need to purchase and then cut the pieces into smaller sections.
In a room, there can be both inside and outside corners although the first ones are much more common. For those corners, you must perform a cope cut on the molding. After all the required cuts, you need to sand the edge which allows you to fit the molding piece against the other structures just like a puzzle. Another thing you could do is miter the ends.
To cut an outside corner, you must take two molding units and miter their ends. The molding’s back part should fit your wall’s measurement while also being the miter’s shorter side. You can even add a few drops of glue for the joint to remain firm.
In case your baseboards don’t form a 45-degree angle where they meet, you will have to cut diagonal outside corners that feature a 22.5-degree angle.
Finally, you can cut mid-run joints but that’s only required when the wall is very long and one single piece of molding isn’t enough to cover it from corner to corner. You have to miter cut both ends at a 45-degree angle in opposite directions in order for the two pieces to overlap.
4. Install the Molding and Create Your Returns
Place the molding into place and nail it down by using your pneumatic nail gun. The nails must go to the center of the material to prevent any cracks. Leave a distance of about 1-2 feet between the nails.
Pay attention when and how you create a return. The outline’s returns are those ends that show when the molding meets doors or certain corners. You have several available options when it comes to choosing a proper return type that suits your room:
- Mitered returns – the most commonly-met and easiest way to create a return is this one;
- Bull-nose returns – these types of returns are made using a lot of tools so, they are more complex methods;
- A wrap-around instead of a return – in some situations, you could skip making a return by replacing it with a molding wrap that goes around a doorway and then continues its path into the other room.
5. Add the Finishing Touches
To achieve a smoother look, make sure to caulk any remaining gaps. In some cases, adding an extra nail could also help. If you want to hide the nails, one possible solution is using a nail crayon. Now, all that’s left to do is paint or stain the molding. Once the paint gets dry, your work is finished!
Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round – Baseboard Styles
These are basic molding styles that are formed into already created profile patterns. They can be either painted or stained. Normally, these types of baseboards are stained instead of painted because of their lack of grain pattern.
Vinyl molding is very popular due to its high level of versatility. You can miter and cut it, then assemble it just like you would with any other baseboard type.
Another popular baseboard molding technique is the back-profiled one. It is also known as a back-cut baseboard. There’s a cut-out that covers the lower part of the wall, near the floor surface. The cut-out fits midway right over the initial molding and provides a stacked visual impact.
There many models of baseboard profiles but you should stick to the ones that are timeless and reliable and have been used by many people for plenty of years. You can achieve a custom-made appearance by stacking these profiles together.
Major Trim Profiles
As I said, there are numerous baseboard profiles available on the market. They come in many sizes, shapes, and patterns. The most popular options are stepped baseboards, flat baseboard molding, sculpted mid-height trims, and sculpted taller molding.
FAQ’s About Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round
When you install new flooring, you must always leave a small gap between the ground surface and the walls around it. Otherwise, all the elements involved, especially wood pieces, will expand and press up against one another. Those gaps need to be covered and the best way to do that is by quarter round molding.
Shoe molding is paired with baseboards such as countertops or flooring. They can be stained or painted to suit the trim. Shoe molding which also goes by the name of the base shoe is a thin molding strap that is placed in a room to offer it a finished and classy look. It is an element that adds a decorative touch.
From a functional point of view, molding is used to cover the gaps that might appear between the floor and the baseboard’s bottom part.
Usually, the average quarter-round molding measures up to 7 feet long. Its height and width are made of pieces of about ¾ inches. These pieces are cut to enable installation-related measurements.
Most people choose to use white molding. This further creates a quarter round trim that will also be white. There is an exception, though, when the floor is made of vinyl or ceramic and the adjacent floor of the next room is made of hardwood. In that situation, the molding must go from a tiled area to a hardwood area.
Shoe Molding vs Quarter Round – Final Thoughts
Shoe molding and quarter round molding are very similar. They have a few differences but, in rest, they are easily replaceable one with the other.
Many people still wonder whether or not they need baseboard molding. The answer is yes! If you don’t use molding, there will always be an ugly gap between the flooring and the trim. But, it isn’t all about appeal and attractiveness. Gaps are also welcoming a lot of dust and dirt as well as debris build-ups.