How to Cover Up Hardwood Floor Edges

Carpet removal exposes baseboard gap

by Bill and Kevin Burnett, Inman News
Q: We just tore the carpet out of a bedroom of our recently purchased home, which was built in 1946. Underneath are beautiful hardwood floors.

There is a very plain and unobtrusive baseboard already in place that was installed on top of the carpet. With the carpet gone, the uneven edges of the hardwood are exposed. We were thinking of installing a lower baseboard molding that would cover the gap. But we can’t think of how to make it look good when it comes up to the door because it will stick out farther than the door casing.

Is there any solution besides tearing out all the existing molding? It has been painted the same color as the walls, and the crack between molding and wall may have even been glued or caulked, as there is no clear crack or line between the two.

We’re new homeowners and have never done anything like any of this before.

A: Don’t remove any of the baseboard. Your instincts are right on. Nailing a smaller piece of molding to cover the gap between the hardwood floor and baseboard is the right way to go.

Wall-to-wall carpet was not original to the house. We bet that somewhere after the late 1950s a small piece of molding called a “base shoe” was removed to make carpet installation easier.

We encourage you to keep the hardwood and use area rugs. It’s a good look and all you have to do is replace the base shoe to get it. The job is one you can tackle with a few tools and some time on your hands and knees.

You’ll need a tape measure, miter box and miter saw to cut 45-degree angles, a small hammer, a nail set and a drill and small drill bit to drill pilot holes in the base shoe. These will set you back in the neighborhood of $100 and will be a good start on a basic tool collection to boot.

First, measure and buy the molding. The base shoe looks like a quarter of a dowel but with one flat side larger than the other. Try to buy full-length pieces for each wall. Splices in the middle of a wall don’t look good.

Buy the molding a little longer than the length of each run. For example, if the wall measures 10 feet, 9 inches, buy a 12-foot piece of base shoe for that wall.

Buy oak and stain it the color of the floor. Then give it a couple of coats of polyurethane for protection.

Take your time when cutting and nailing the molding. For inside corners use the miter box to cut a 45-degree angle where the molding dies into the corner. A complementary 45-degree cut will give a nice inside corner.

To finish the base shoe, cut a 45-degree angle as if forming an outside corner. The outside edge should be cut at the joint where the baseboard meets the door. Cut another small piece to form a return to the wall.

To nail the molding in place, first dry-fit the pieces. Once they’re in place and looking good, drill pilot holes in the long piece of molding and nail the base shoe to the existing base with 4d finishing nails. Put a dab of wood glue on the return and set it place. Let the job set overnight so the glue dries.

The final step is to fill the nail holes with a putty stick, which matches the color of the floor and the baseboard.

Because you’re not experienced in this type of work, go slow, measure twice and cut once — and realize you might make a mistake or two. Be patient and once you’re done step back and enjoy the good feelings that come from a job well done.

Copyright 2010 Bill and Kevin Burnett
See Bill and Kevin Burnett’s feature, New Countertops Don’t Require Gut Job.
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