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Quarter Round vs. Shoe Molding

Quarter Round vs. Shoe Molding
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This week’s Ask the Craftsman question comes from Jeffrey.

“What’s the difference between quarter round and shoe molding? Aren’t they the same?”

Jeffrey, quarter round and shoe molding are like kissing cousins. They’re are almost identical. They can be used interchangeably in some cases, but they have their own specific uses as well.

Quarter round is exactly as its name implies, one quarter of a round dowel. A 90° angel on the backside with a perfect quarter radius on the showing side. It works great to fill corners or soften any 90° joint between trim and moldings.

Quarter round also comes in various sizes which makes it even more versatile for a range of applications.

Shoe molding is much the same as quarter round, having the same 90° angle on the backside but instead of being a perfect quarter radius, its profile is a bit more squat. The main use for shoe molding is to run along the intersection of the baseboard and floor.

Using shoe molding gives the floor installer more latitude in their end cuts and also allows the trim carpenter to hide un-level floors. Since the shoe molding is such a small and flexible piece of trim, it can meander up and down with the floor, hiding the unevenness with much less work than with just a baseboard.

Can you use quarter round in place of shoe molding? Sure, but it tends to give an appearance to the baseboard that is a bit too fat in most cases. In the end, it’s up to personal preference, but at least you know there is a difference now.

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15 thoughts on “Quarter Round vs. Shoe Molding

  1. We just had a basement finished. Concrete floors and walls, 14 yrs. old, good shape. Had vinyl plank floor installed, 6″ flat trim board installed. Now trying to figure out if we should put shoe molding down.

    1. If you have gaps and see space between your floor and wall base molding you should use it, otherwise its ok to go with out it, my final thought on it Is shoe molding add a finish touch that is not always require, it all depends on personal preferences and home style design, in most modern design the shoe molding is totally obsoleted

  2. I had a laminate floor installed where I used to have a thick shag carpeting. The store ordered 1/4″ round but the trim is too high up. I need a 1 1/4″ round. What can I do instead of replacing the trim?

  3. Good Post. Your blog is very informative for us. I would really like to come back again right here for likewise good articles or blog posts. Thanks for sharing a nice information…if you need the best quality rubber moulds for paver, please contact JR Rubber Industries for interlocking brick mold

  4. He must have been talking about cove molding, which I haven’t personally seen used there, but its a big world.

  5. Had some laminate flooring installed — the installers left too much space on each end where the flooring is supposed to be about 1/4″ away from the wall to leave room for expansion & contraction. They left about 1/2″ on EACH end–but not uniformly. Anyway, tried using quarter round to cover the too large gaps at the edges but the quarter round is not wide enough and some gaps still show — and are ugly. Some are especially noticeable because they are very near the doorway and there is not enough room to put furniture there to hide it.

    I really don’t want to pull off all the base molding and get something wider because then it won’t match any of the other rooms in the house and it’s too expensive to re-do all the base molding in the house.

    Anybody have any ideas or suggestions?


    1. I use latex caulking that is close to the floor color to fill any small gaps in the flooring against the baseboard. Hides it nicely.

  6. We are refinishing 90 year old red oak strip floors in our new house and the previous owners installed quarter round around the baseboards. There are still many places where there is a gap between the floor edge and the baseboard in front of the quarter round trim piece. What is the appropriate trim solution for this?

      1. My wife and I went to a custom mill shop that had door stops with different profiles. Because the door stop is “taller” than typical quarter round it covered our gap.

    1. Hi Jane, I am not a professional, but I would build out the existing baseboard by installing a shorter mdf baseboard. Then, reattach the shoe molding to the shorter mdf baseboard. Make sure to get the correct with to cover the gaps where the flooring meets the baseboard and shoe molding. Then, spackle and paint.

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