The base board is a type of floor trim used with laminate, wood, vinyl, carpet, and almost any other kind of floor.

A drawing of the expansion gap needed for almost all hard surface floor installations

The Baseboard Alone

A baseboard is usually a wooden piece 6″ high and about 1/2 inch thick that attaches to the bottom of the wall with nails or adhesive, and touches, but is not attached to, the floor underneath. The baseboard will go all the way around the room. It protects the wall from bangs and abrasions due to furniture moved or toys rolled, and keeps dirt from gathering. This is one of the most basic types of flooring trims, though special ordered trims can come in anywhere from three to eleven inches high.*

Very rarely, the width of the baseboard itself will be used to cover the expansion gap between the edge of your floor and the wall proper. Generally this will be with hardwood installed during a new home construction, because hardwood flooring lasts so long that it is not as likely as other floors to be replaced in the lifetime of a house. Otherwise, the baseboard will almost always be flush with the subfloor before you install your new flooring. About the only time baseboards would be removed and raised to accommodate new flooring being installed underneath would be with 1/2″ high carpeting. With laminate and vinyl flooring, the floor will meet the baseboard the same way it would otherwise meet a wall, so it is treated like the bottom of the wall. This means that while it is a trim, in most cases you will still need to add a trim piece after your new floor installation. This is to cover the expansion gap which is left between the flooring and the baseboard, to allow the material to expand and contract with changes in humidity and temperature.

Enter the Base Shoe

Or the Shoe Base. Slightly different terms for the exact same object. A Base Shoe is a trim piece very close in shape to a quarter round, only taller than it is wide. Where quarter rounds are 3/4″ tall and 3/4″ wide, literally one fourth of a perfect circle, a true base shoe is usually only 1/2″ wide, rendering it a taller looking piece. Actually, a quarter round may be used for this purpose, and you will even see many other online sources cite that as the proper piece. For the most part, doing this would be more of a decorative decision than a functional one, because either added trim piece will serve to cover the expansion gap left between your flooring and the baseboard.
Flooring Trim - Base Board and Base Shoe Diagram
A base shoe must not be nailed to the floor. It needs to be nailed to the wall only. The floor underneath needs to move, even if only slightly, as the temperature and humidity change. If the trim is only nailed to the floor, it will move away from the wall (or press into it) with the floor. If it is nailed to both, the floor may warp, or the trim may come apart as the floor moves – either way, it’s not good to attach your trim (any trim) to the floor. Just let it hover over it.

* At 12″, what we have is a proper Wall Base, used primarily in the installation of plaster walls.


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David has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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