Shoe Molding: What It Is And How To Install It

Houses In Ann Arbor, Michigan, And The Surrounding Areas, Are Installing Shoe Molding To Give Their Homes A More Finished Look

In this post, you can find out what this kind of molding is, its pros and cons, the other type of baseboard molding, how to install it, and installation tips.

What Is Shoe Molding?

Also known as base shoe, this type of molding goes along the bottom edge baseboards. It adds a decorative touch and helps rooms look finished. It’s a home improvement that puts a finishing detail in your home.

People added “shoe” to this kind of baseboard molding because you find it at shoe level. It became a trend in the late 1800s when mass production of wood trim made it more available.

Pros And Cons

You’ll love it because it hides the seam between the baseboard and the floor. It also helps seal out dirt and insects.

The only real problem is the bottom of the baseboard needs to be flat for the molding to work. Ornate baseboards with design elements keep the molding from sitting flush with the wall.

Shoe Molding vs Quarter-Round

Quarter-round molding gets its name from taking a circular dowel and splitting it into four parts. People don’t like this molding as much because it’s short and thick.


You can find this molding type in wood, medium-density fiberboard, and polystyrene.

Wood is the most common material. The cost depends on the quality of the wood you choose. Pine will be on the cheaper side, while oak and walnut will be more expensive.

Tools And Materials

Miter saw being used to cut wood

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Brad nailer (nail gun)
  • Nails
  • Pencil
  • Miter saw
  • Molding
  • Wood glue
  • Painter’s tape

Optional materials:

  • Tack cloth
  • Paint, or stain and varnish
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood putty

How To Install Shoe Molding In 9 Steps

1. Measure and mark the first piece of trim

It’s time to start your home improvement project!

If you choose to start with an outside corner piece, like around a post or wall arch, place the piece of molding across the wall and use a pencil to mark where the molding ends meet the wall intersection. If you’re installing base molding, place the long edge of the molding upright against the wall.

Make an angle mark showing the direction the miter cut will make. This is to remind you of the direction of the 45-degree cut.

If you’re starting with an inside corner piece, measure the wall length and mark that measurement on a long piece of molding.

2. Cut the first piece of shoe molding

Grab your miter saw and get to cutting!

Set the blade to a 45-degree angle. Put the molding on the miter box so the blade and the pencil mark barely touch. You want the blade on the outer edge of the mark so you don’t cut it too short. Turn the blade to the opposite 45-degree angle and follow the same process for the other side of the molding.

You may need to learn how to use a miter saw.

3. Test the fit

You want to make sure it fits before moving on.

Position the piece on the wall to make sure it’s an exact fit. You don’t want to install it yet, as you’ll need to move it after you cut and fit the second piece.

4. Cut the second piece

Follow step two.

5. Test-fit

Now, test-fit the second piece of shoe molding.

If it doesn’t fit exactly, use the miter saw to make corrections until you have a perfect fit. You want your home improvement project to look fabulous, right?

6. Install the first two pieces

Place the molding where you want them and use a brad nailer to install them.

A brad nailer is a nail gun. It’s an excellent tool for this project because it automatically sets nails to the correct depth so they don’t stick out. This tool also makes the work much faster. 

7. Repeat steps 1 through 6

Keep doing the same process for every wall in each room.

8. Finish the ends with a return piece

This step makes the end pieces look more finished.

Return pieces finish the molding ends that don’t connect to another piece of molding. It’s a small piece of trim at the end of the molding. The purpose is to hide the grain that’ll show if you don’t attach this piece.

Take the piece of shoe molding you’ll be installing and make a 45-degree cut on the ending side. Make the cut so the very tip is even with the end of the wall and the angle goes backward. Install it.

Take another piece of molding and cut a 45-degree angle. Cut the angled part off and test-fit it with the end piece of molding. Do this until it fits.

Get your wood glue and apply some to the cut edge of the return piece. Put the return piece on and tape the piece down with painter’s tape. This holds it in place while the glue sets.

9. Finishing touches

Make sure all the nails are even with the molding so your home improvement project has a beautiful finish. Use another nail and a hammer to lightly tap any into place.

Take off the painter’s tape from the return pieces. Touch up any finishes on the molding and fill any gaps with wood putty. If you have painted trim, you can use caulk instead.

Tips For Installing Shoe Molding

Measure, cut, and install the trim one piece at a time. Doing it all beforehand can result in mistakes.

It’s a great idea to practice cutting and fitting with waste trim. You’ll find it much easier to get the cut you want, and you’ll end up with better-looking molding.

Make sure to firmly press the molding against the floor and baseboard when nailing it into place. You don’t want it moving out of place.

Put nails in about every foot, making sure the nails go into the baseboard.

You can add glue to each piece that joins with another to make sure they fit more snugly together.

Add a finish to your shoe molding before installing it. It’s way easier to do it before than when it’s on your baseboard.

Give Your Home A More Finished Look

You’ll love the more finished look your house has when it has molding along the baseboard. It’s a great detail to have, making it a wonderful home improvement project.

Contact us for your carpentry needs, or visit our carpentry page for more information.

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