Time: 1 Day
Skill Level: Medium
Project Costs: $28-$100
Money Saved: $150
Tools you Need

Does it look like an animal chewed your shoe molding? Learn how to install shoe molding.

Replacing or adding shoe molding is a great and inexpensive way to freshen up a room. It gives the appearance of clean edges – even though everything else might be old! Shoe molding also serves an important practical purpose by reducing air flow between your room and the outside. Exterior air seeps into the wall cavity and if there are gaps, it can find its way into your room. This is particularly important in older houses where the house has “settled” and gaps exist between floor and wall.


Power tools have the ability to save you considerable time when it comes to home improvement, especially when it comes to installing shoe molding. If you are technologically inclined you can opt for a mitre saw and a power nailer. The mitre saw allows you to make cuts at various angles and the power nailer uses a compressor to drive in nails to secure the molding to the baseboard. These are the types of items to rent unless you are building out your tool room.  So what are we going to show you?? This How-To will show you have to replace molding the good old fashion way – oh the novelty of using a saw, hammer and nails. Time to put in some sweat equity.

Shoe  molding vs quarter round

When you go to purchase shoe molding, you will notice there are two different yet very similar moldings from which to pick. In fact you have molding called quarter rounds, which is just that a quarter cut profile of a circle and you have “shoe molding”. Shoe molding has two unequal sides with a curved edge. Typically, the term shoe molding is used when speaking in general terms about this project. Just make sure if you are trying to match existing, make sure to bring a piece with you to the lumber store. Both of these can be purchased at a lumber supply store. They typically come in 16′ long runs, but many of these places can cut them down for you, that is unless you drive a semi. Take measurements before purchasing. Tack on a few extra feet so you are definitely covered. Unfortunately, Bauen cannot sell lumber. Too big for us to ship. If you have anymore questions on how to purchase, please contact us!


BottomlineThis is a quick and easy project that will add a lot of aesthetic value to your room. Definitely consider the project if you feel any drafts around your room perimeter.


Assess your room before starting. There is a chance might learn something!

1. Was your house built before 1970?
If yes, there is a good chance you have lead paint either exposed or in sub-paint layers. Lead paint is most harmful when dispersed through the air in tiny particles such as sanding dust. We recommend you perform a lead test if you plan on scrapping or sanding during your prep phase.

ALL ABOUT LEAD TESTS – Click to learn more.

2. Do you plan on refinishing your floors in the near future?
If yes, we advise on waiting to install the shoe molding. You should remove the molding for floor refinishing, so we figure why do the project twice. You have more important things to do!

3. Does your baseboard need a little love?
This is the perfect time to also do any repairs to your baseboard since you will be painting the shoe molding to match the baseboard.

bauen-iconPerform a lead test. It is important to know what you are working with.


Protect your room and yourself.

1. Remove items from perimeter. Place perimeter furniture in the middle of the room. Cover the items with a drop cloth because there will be sanding dust, especially if you are using a mitre saw. BUT if you plan on sanding somewhere else, then there is no need!

3. Protect yourself. Wear safety goggles if you are working with a mitre saw. Wood has a tendency to shoot off to the side, and seriously, who wants to lose an eye? Wear your N-95 or P=N-100 sanding respirator and goggles when scraping, dusting and sanding. Even though you might not see the particles, they are DEFINITELY in the air and really like your eyes, nose and throat. Want to learn more about respirators? Click here.

Out with the old, in with the new


Remove existing shoe molding

Use your painter’s tool and crowbar to remove existing molding. Take the sharp end of the painter’s tool and cut through any paint build up that exists between the floor, wall and molding. This will give you areas to insert the crowbar. Beware of existing nails. Most will come up with the shoe molding, so watch your hands and pull with control.


Remove nails

Use your hammer to remove any nails that might have been left in the walls / floor. Due to the angle of the nail, you might need to use pliers.


Scrape and level

Use your painter’s tool to scrape and level the area where the molding hit the wall. There is a good chance you will have paint build up that sticks out. This will ensure the new molding sits flush to the wall.

bauen-iconWear your safety goggles and mask if you are using power tools. Shooting shoe molding is no joke!


Know your angles

Installing shoe molding is all about angles – 45 degree angles to be exact. Even though the corners in your room might not be perfect squares, the angles cut to make shoe molding fit are 45 degrees. Unless you have a steady hand and keen eye for angles, you need to use a guide for cuts. As mentioned before you can use power tools such as a mitre saw, or go the old fashioned way and use a mitre box. Mitre boxes are inexpensive and also give you a nice arm work out 🙂 The diagrams above show you the type of cuts you need for inside and outside corners in a room.



1. Mark and measure. Bauen likes to start in a corner and then proceed around the perimeter in a linear fashion. This is a systematic way to make sure the molding fits. Place a piece of molding along the baseboard. Make sure it is pushed back tightly against the wall. Use a pen to make the location where the molding hits the corner. It is important to take into consideration the saw thickness, which is approximately 1/16″. This might seem minimal, but it can make a big difference. How do we deal with this? We like to put an “X” on the side that should be cut. We make sure the outside of the saw is on the line we draw. Images below show this.

  • mitre saw box
  • close up of mitre box angle cut

2. Mark and measure – Take 2. Now it’s time to measure for the shoe molding on the adjacent wall. Follow the same step above, making sure to mark the side you are going to cut. Voila, now you have a corner. Just remember, it might not be absolutely perfect. Walls aren’t always square or your saw could have shifted ever so slightly in the mitre box to give you a minuscule difference. Thats ok though! Caulk and patching putty are perfect for filling in those little gaps.


It’s hammer time!

3. Hammer and nail. Use a hammer and 1-1/2″ finishing nails to secure the shoe molding. Start at one end of the molding and space the nails approximately 6-9″ apart. It can be a little trial and error in the beginning as to what angle works to provide a secure attachment. If you have a gap between the baseboard and floor you will want to pick an angle that is more perpendicular with the floor. Perpendicular will send the nail into the floor, ensuring a secure attachment. As you move along the molding, you might notice the previous nails popping out a little. Thats ok. Just go back and give them some light taps at the end. The vibration from hammering causes this.

4. Protect your floor. Bauen likes to place a towel, in this case a microfiber cloth, underneath the hammer. Unless you are a precise hammerer, we recommend doing this to protect your floors!

  • hammer and finishing nails
  • nail punch shoe molding

5. Punch it. You will notice the nails stick out a little bit from the shoe molding. Use a nail puncher to drive the nail deeper into the molding. Finishing nails have a small indention that is meant to “hold” the punch. Don’t worry if the punch slides off the nail and makes a nice little hole in your mold. The next step will take care of this.

Patch and make pretty

  • apply putty to shoe molding

6. Place the putty. Use your finger or a putty knife to apply the lightweight patching compound to all nail holes. This is also a good time to fill any holes on the baseboard that might need a little love. Allow the compound to dry. Bauen likes using a color sensitive time indicating putty. Takes the guess work out of dry time.

7. Sand. Once dry, use a fine sanding pad to sand down the putty to the same level as the shoe molding. Bauen likes to use regular pieces of paper as floor protection. The paper can slip nicely underneath the shoe molding.

Caulk it up

You have two options when it comes to caulk. You can use a caulking gun with insertable tubes or a caulk single squeeze tube. Surprisingly, the single squeeze tubes are more expensive based on the coverage you get. Bauen recommends spending the money up front for a caulking gun, since the tubes are more inexpensive than the singles. Plus you can use the caulking gun for various types of caulk and sealants. Time to get crazy!! We like to use an all purpose, white, paintable acrylic latex caulk plus silicone that has a water clean up.


8. Apply. Apply the caulk along the shoe molding’s meeting points. Pull the trigger and move at medium speed as you apply the caulk. It’s ok if the caulk isn’t consistent on the molding. You will be smoothing it out. In our opinion, its better to start off with too little than with too much.


9. Smooth. Smooth the caulk by using your fingers. Wear gloves if you want to protect your manicure. Your fingers will help remove excess caulk and preserve the nice clean edge between the molding and baseboard. Continue to remove excess caulk until you achieve a nice smooth finish and transition. Keep a wet cloth or paper towel around to assist with cleaning your hands during the process.

10. Congrats! You are all done! Let the caulk dry before moving on to priming and painting.

Map out your cuts. It can be a little tricky at first to keep track of the molding’s orientation. Draw a little map if that makes it easier!

Ready to install new shoe molding?

Time to take the guesswork out of home improvement product shopping. Purchase our project kit that includes all the tools needed for a successful DIY home improvement project. You just need to provide the shoe molding.

person installing shoe molding
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