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What is Shoe Molding?

By T. L. Childree
Updated May 16, 2024
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Shoe molding is a type of decorative trim piece primarily utilized for concealing small irregularities between the wall and floor of a structure. Shoe molding is installed at the base of a wall and typically attached to a much taller baseboard. This narrow molding has two flat sides facing inward and one concave side facing outward. Shoe molding is usually constructed of natural hardwood, but may also be made of engineered wood or vinyl. This molding must be precisely mitered at each corner for proper appearance.

When tile or sheet flooring is installed in a home or building, small gaps are often left at the base of the wall. A baseboard is typically installed at the wall base to prevent damage from occurring to the wall, but the bottom of this board is usually too narrow to conceal flooring irregularities. Shoe molding is often attached to the bottom of the baseboard to conceal these small gaps. Although this molding serves no structural purpose, it does provide a more uniform transition between the floor and wall. This molding often gives the appearance of a small, protruding shoe at the bottom of the much taller baseboard.

Shoe molding is frequently installed in rooms with tile or sheet flooring, but seldom utilized for carpeted floors. Carpet edges are typically tucked underneath the baseboard and do not require any additional concealment molding. The bottom edge of the shoe molding is usually sealed with a clear caulking material next to the flooring. This seal prevents the molding from becoming damaged when the floor is mopped. The top edge of the molding is often filled with putty for a seamless appearance.

This small strip of molding has a very narrow profile, with two flat sides facing inward and one curved side facing outward. It is usually about ¾-inch-high (2 cm) and ½-inch-thick (1 cm) at its base. Larger, quarter-round molding measuring ¾ inch (2 cm) on each flat side is sometimes used in place of shoe molding to conceal wider irregularities. Shoe molding is typically sold in lengths of 6 feet (182 cm) or 12 feet (365 cm) and cut to the correct size during installation.

This molding is typically constructed of natural hardwood sections joined together with finger joints. It may also be made of materials such as engineered wood or vinyl that are pre-finished. This molding is usually attached to the base board with small, thin nails or glue. Each corner must be cut to a precisely-mitered angle for the best appearance. It is generally stained or painted to match the baseboard after installation.

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