General Molding & Trim Information (1)

Understanding which molding or transition pieces are required to complete a flooring project can be confusing. We hope to clear this up on this page. Some molding is required to cover required gaps in an installation and some is just for cosmetic purposes. Floors expand and contract with the environmental temperature. Proper installation requires placement of gaps in the floor at the edges and between rooms to accommodate expansions. Some of the modeling below elegantly covers these gaps.

General Molding & Trim Information

Wood moldings differ from laminate moldings. And to make things more complicated modeling differ among manufacturers. Moldings and transition pieces offered by manufacturers are often designed to match the color of a specific floor that they offer. It’s important to understand that moldings may not match floors exactly because wood is a natural product, and one piece can take a stain a little differently than another. Typically molding lengths are 78 inches but can be up to 96 inches. This variation can differ from brand to brand in the industry. Laminate trim is typically made from of synthetic plasticized composite. The matching color and visual design is laminated onto the surface.

The following descriptions offer a basic guideline for the most popular molding and transition types. Dimensions and profiles may differ slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and the general descriptions below are meant only for general guidance. Call, chat or send and email to us if you have specific questions.

Shipping Molding 

Shipping molding is done in a big long cardboard tube packaging. It is efficient for shipping a bundle of moldings, however returning single sticks that are leftover from a project can be costly and not worthwhile. The rule of thumb is to measure twice order once, keep some extra for future repairs and modifications.

Expansion Gaps

Almost all molding is designed to cover up expansion gaps in flooring in a durable and functionally cosmetic way. Expansion gaps are spaces left around the perimeter of rooms i.e. walls, against fixed objects such as columns, and other flooring transitions. The composition of the solid dictates the amount of expansion that will be observed. For example, stone floors may expand less than wood.

Wood flooring is an organic (once living) material that reacts to moisture and temperature changes in the environment. The individual fiber cells in the hardwood will take on or absorb moisture when the relative humidity is high, or when exposed to water. Expansion takes place, and the hardwood elongates across the grain or width of the plank. Conversely, when air moisture levels decrease, moisture content evaporates, shrinkage occurs.

You will need to let a floor acclimate to a room 48 hours prior to installing it so that the expansion/contraction is in sync with the gap allowances you build into the installation to ensure that is is reflective of the actual floor surface area at room temperature.

Wall Base Molding for Floor Wall Transitions

Another traditional molding used to cover expansion gaps is a Wall Base or commonly called baseboard. Wall Base heights differ from manufacturer to manufacturer but typically can range anywhere from 2 inch to 5 inch tall. Wall Bases can be plain and generic or very decorative and, like the Quarter Round, homeowners usually prefer these moldings to be painted or stained the same color as the rest of the trim in the room.

Wall Baseboards are fastened using 8 penny finish nails, nailing approximately every 16 inch and can be used with a Quarter Round complement or without.

Quarter Round Molding for Floor Wall Transitions

One of the most common types of molding is called the Quarter Round. Quarter Rounds are typically 3/4 x 3/4 inch and are used to cover the necessary expansion gap between a hard surface floor and a wall. Along the same line as Quarter Rounds, some manufacturers offer a molding called a Shoe Base. Shoe Bases are typically a little thinner or a little shorter, but work in the same manner as a Quarter Round. Manufacturers offer Quarter Round to match (as close as possible) the color of their specific floor, however it is common to see Quarter Rounds painted or stained the same color as the rest of the trim in the room.

Installation of Quarter Round is very simple and is something anyone can do. Simply nail the Quarter Round into the baseboard or the wall using 6 penny finish nails approximately every 10 inch. When preparing a room for a new installation, it is necessary to remove existing Quarter Round prior to installing the new flooring. Quarter Round can be used alone, or it can be used in conjunction with a Wall Base is baseboard.

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