Installing Quarter Round Moldings - Page 1
Quarter round moldings are installed against the existing baseboard. The purpose is usually caused by two reasons. One is the actual hardwood installation needs space to expand and contract. In doing so a gap is created with a need for covering. Also the actual finished floors may have mild undulations (creating gaps between the base and floor) because of the subfloor condition. This is not an installer error because they are not responsible for perfectly flat subfloor conditions.
Quarter round itself usually measures 3/4" x 3/4" but there are other variations depending of what look you prefer. For hardwood floors, nearly all prefinished manufacturers offer a prefinished quarter round molding in this size.
If you're looking at a very small job, you may only need to use a miter chop saw. For instance a 10 x 10 foot room will probably only need about 34 lineal feet of quarter round (calculated at 4 walls multiplied by 10 feet minus two standard doorways of 3 feet each) In these modern times the work will go much quicker if you add in a cool pneumatic trim nailing gun, but that will need a compressor too.
I find it hard to understand why so many do it yourself sites suggest using actual finish nails, hammer and a drill to install quarter round. The drill is intended to create a hole the nail can penetrate without bending. This is important on harder species but not necessary if you're using pine. The problems with this method are two fold; it takes longer and secondly you sometimes lose a tight fit where two pieces come together in corners or at mitered seams.
I think most of us that may handle a project like this can afford to go out and buy or rent tools that can speed the job up and look great upon completion. This leads us to compressors and the finish trim nailer. With trim installations you want to use the thinnest gauge nail possible, sometimes called wire nails. You can find them in one and two inch lengths. For our purposes anything over one and a quarter inch will suffice. The beauty in wire nails is they will not leave a gaping hole like the standard eight penny nail the DIY sites suggest. No large amounts of putty will be needed either. The hole created is smaller and will be less noticeable before and after it's filled with a matching putty.
Compressor selections are numerous. Realistically you may not even need to buy one. Maybe a friend down the street or a relative has one. In any event, they are handy to have around the house when the job is done, and can be purchased for under $100.
Where to Start?
Let's use an example of two rooms with a closet and hallway shown below. Sorry, I don't have any graphic artists on board for now, so we'll have to settle with some homemade illustrations. Cream colored pieces shown are quarter round. In step one, we've cut two lengths of quarter round with two outside miters on each end away from the corner. The cuts on the other ends, intersecting with the corner will appear the same, unless you choose to use the coping method.
Depending on what method is chosen, fasten the first two pieces with a finish nailer but nailing into the baseboard and not the floor on a 45 degree angle. It's best to start in the corner while at the same time making sure the fit is tight and snug. Once the desired fit is achieved, fasten with trim nailer, and work your way to both ends nailing every 12 inches or so. Keep downward pressure on the quarter round so it's flush with the floor. Without doing so, you may find a few unwanted gaps and you'll have to start over.
See A Transformation - Lousy Job Versus New
In this video we show a hacked shoe molding installation done years ago that was transformed into what you should expect with a better professional. Methods and tools are suggested for removal and reinstallation.
Painted Shoe Molding? Tip
Here’s a helpful tip for those that may be using pine quarter round or shoe molding (paint grade). There are two ways to go about dealing with painted trim. One is having all the trims painted before installation and the other after the trim installation. Painting trim is a pain for those less skilled like myself. I learned this tip watching a small custom builder install baseboard molding after a prefinished floor was installed, with the use of rosin or kraft paper. Personally I like the second method because the nail holes have to be filled anyway and white trim always gets dirty here and there.
In this job I cut the roll of paper down to about ten inches wide on the miter saw. Then it was rolled out and pushed tight against the baseboard, while taping here (blue painters tape) and there so it didn’t slide around. Then the shoe was put into place and nailed. I would not advice putting too much downward force on the shoe molding as the paper may not pull out when the painting is completed.
Roll out paper
Nail shoe molding