Expansion Gap

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by my customers is “why do we need the shoe molding or quarter round?” They ask “can we just go all the way to the baseboard with the flooring, and eliminate the cost of shoe molding?”
The answer is NO. And it is not because we don’t want you to save money, but because we NEED to leave some space between the hardwood floor and the baseboard.

This space is called the “expansion gap”. It allows the new wood floor to expand and contract in time, under the natural conditions (heat, cold), without ruining the floors.
If we don’t leave the necessary space and the hardwood expands, the new floor would push into the baseboard. This can create two problems. The first is the baseboard might become loose at the top where it is attached to the wall and separate from the sheetrock. In the second and most common scenario, the pieces would buckle up in the middle, forming raised areas of the floor. Buckling would result in very expensive repairs.
This is why shoe molding/quarter round is necessary in an installation.

Hardwood Floors, Dunwoody, GA

The size of the expansion gap depends on both the particular product and the manufacturer of the hardwood floor installed. The expansion needs to be larger for a solid wood, and smaller for an engineered hardwood floor (glue down installation). The typical expansion is ¼” (a quarter of an inch). This size allows you to use either shoe molding or quarter round to cover it. You also have to remember the expansion gap is not only for walls, but also for doorways, poles, and even transitions to a different floor. For a quality hardwood floor installation, the quarter round/shoe molding is a necessity, not an option. An alternative to using shoe molding or quarter round is removing your existing baseboard, lay down your wood floors (leaving an expansion) and install new or existing baseboards on top of your new floors.

Check out our article about acclimation/acclimatization, another step in preventing your hardwood floors from buckling.

Mark, W

I contacted Ameri Floors one year prior to having my stairwell redone. I spoke to the same person and he was very courteous. I took pictures of my stairwell and we went from there.
Ameri Floors stayed in contact with me concerning the job and provided me with a quote that was better than two other companies.
The job started on time and the overall experience was great. The workers provided me with stain options on site and explained again the process of rebuilding my stairwell with wood floors.
We ate lunch and the job was complete early. I am pleased with my new stairwell and the quality of service provided by this business. I highly recommend giving them the opportunity to meet your flooring needs.