Shoe molding and quarter-round molding give architectural "curve appeal" to interior spaces. Instead of leaving abrupt transitions between countertops and surfaces adjoining them or between floors, baseboards and walls, shoe and quarter-round molding make for a smooth and professional-looking transition. They add shape and dimension so surfaces connect in interesting ways. They also help cover up gaps between different surface materials such as carpeting, wood and tile and can be used to trim everything from doors to floors.
Quarter-round is the name for molding used along fixed surfaces, such as walls and baseboards. Quarter-round pieces are commonly used as transition pieces to cover gaps between flooring surfaces and adjoining walls and between countertop surfaces and walls or backsplashes. The pieces are commonly made of wood, have a curved edge and are shaped like a quarter of a circle in cross section, as the name implies. The curved edge faces outward and is visible once the piece is installed. Quarter-round pieces can be painted, stained or left in their natural state. The standard width and height of quarter-round pieces is ¾ inch. They are in long strips, up to 7 feet and more, which are cut to measure for installation.
Shoe molding is another trimming option to use along walls and baseboards. Like quarter-round pieces, shoe molding has a curved edge and is used as a transition piece between flooring materials and adjoining walls. Unlike quarter-round molding, the curve of shoe molding is less pronounced. Instead of a ¾-inch width, the standard width of shoe molding is ½-inch.
Quarter-round and shoe molding trims add a smooth and professional look to flooring and countertop installations. They work with any type of material, from wood to laminate to natural stone tiles and even concrete. Quarter-rounds and shoe molding are most commonly made of solid wood or wood veneers. Both can be painted, stained or left untreated. Standard sizes are less than 1-inch tall, which makes them easy to cut and customize for use.
Even though both types of moldings have curved edges, the size of the curve can make a difference. Quarter-round is the better choice if you want a curved edge that is well rounded and pronounced. This type of application is good in areas where the shape can be a visual benefit, such as trimming for countertops or along flooring baseboards. You can also use quarter-round when you want a visual trim with a pronounced circular shape to build up decorative moldings for window casings and doorframes. Shoe molding, on the other hand, is a good choice when you want the molding to be curved but less pronounced. As the name suggests, this can include applications to cover gaps between steps, where you need a trim but you want something more obscure. And you can take that same approach and opt for shoe molding in similar situations elsewhere.
Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.