Ideally, a floor trim should fit snugly, with no significant gap between the baseboard and the floor. However, the reality is that baseboard installation is rarely ideal, and you may have tiny or substantial gaps between your floor trim or baseboard and floor. You may wonder why it happens and how to fix it.
Your floor trim is so high because the floor isn’t perfectly leveled, and thus leaving you with noticeable gaps. Improper floor installation may also be a causal factor, whether it’s hardwood, tile, or carpet. In rare cases, poorly designed baseboards can have gaps due to uneven finish.
Like politicians, flooring experts lack consensus on most things, including trims or baseboards. Many professionals install and finish the flooring before moving to the baseboards, whereas some do the exact opposite. This guide offers 5 options to fix gaps between trim and floor, so keep reading.
3 Reasons for Gaps Between Baseboard and Floor
The last thing any homeowner wants on an otherwise flawless floor is unpleasant gaps under the baseboard. Yet, the problem is extremely common, not just in remodeled older homes. Newer homes may also be vulnerable to this teething and unsightly issue.
- Inaccurate Baseboard Height for Carpet and Padding Thickness
A baseboard installed before padding and carpeting must have enough space for the latter to fit properly under the trim. You may have gaps if the floor trim is too high, and the space underneath the baseboard isn’t accounted for by the thickness of the carpet and padding.
Homeowners should always consult with their carpet installers to ensure the measurements are accurate, and the carpenters working on the floor trim should do a good job. Also, you may have too little space under the baseboard with a conservatively wrong height.
Less space than required isn’t an unsolvable concern; you can have the carpet trimmed along the edges so it can slide under the baseboard. A larger than necessary gap is harder to fill or fix, and you can’t simply caulk the spaces between a baseboard and a carpet.
Some homeowners may encounter this gap between a baseboard and carpet floor when re-flooring with hardwood, tile, or another carpet. The easy solution is to reinstall the baseboards to adjust the height, and thus the necessary gap for the new flooring to fit snugly.
- Uneven Hardwood Floor with Bows and Bumps
Theoretically, installing floor trim or baseboard on a hardwood floor is relatively simple, and you shouldn’t have any visible gaps between the two. However, the theory works in practice only when the subfloor and hardwood finish is perfectly leveled without any slope or bump.
You may be familiar with floors having subtle bows & bumps at places due to sloping or sagging and other causes of unevenness. As a result, your baseboard may sit flawlessly atop the hardwood floor at some places, but there’ll be a few spots with pronounced gaps.
Unfortunately, you can’t do much about the hardwood floor after the installation, sanding, and finishing. However, you can use self-leveling underlayment if you plan a new floor or replacement. A self-leveling underlayment will ensure the hardwood floor is desirably even.
Also, ensure the baseboards are installed properly on the hardwood floor. Most floor trims or baseboards have nominal flex, so installers can only press them down to a negligible extent. Besides, the rear grooves enabling slight bending don’t offer any help for the gaps underneath.
Proper baseboard installation can reduce the gaps between the floor trim and the hardwood flooring. Otherwise, you may opt for one of the post-installation options to fix these gaps, as listed below in this guide. The most fitting solutions are moldings and caulking.
- Misaligned Tiles and Floor Leveling Issues
Like hardwood, tiles may be uneven with bumps and bows if the subfloor isn’t even. You may use a self-leveling underlayment for tiles, too. Also, you should consider using leveling clips during tile installation to ensure each piece is neatly aligned with the next and the floor is even.
Watch this tile leveling clips YouTube video to know how it ensures alignment, thus reducing the severity of gaps:
A floor trim or baseboard will have gaps if a tile is raised higher than another, or one is more recessed onto the subfloor and underlayment. Self-leveling underlayment and clips can prevent these problems, but you need post-installation remedies for an existing and finished tile floor.
5 Ways to Fix Gaps Between Baseboards and Floor
There are a few remedies for all types of gaps between a baseboard and floor. However, identify the actual cause of the problem in your case and choose a solution accordingly. The following five ways to fix the gaps between floor trim or baseboard and floor are all you need.
- Reinstall Improperly Installed Baseboards
A few floor trims or baseboards are extremely tough to remove without causing some damage to the wall. This rigidity depends on the glue or adhesive and other installation essentials used originally. If you can remove your baseboards, consider reinstalling them to fix the gaps.
Reinstall baseboards for carpet, hardwood, and tile floors when you remodel. For example, if you have a carpeted floor and switch to hardwood or tile, remove the baseboards and reinstall at an appropriate height or neatly atop the new flooring after it’s fully installed and finished.
- Replace the Floor Trim or Baseboard
A floor trim or baseboard doesn’t have a lot of flex, so there’s only so much a carpenter or installer can do to press it down to fix visible gaps. Also, baseboards may warp, a floor trim variety could have manufacturing or craftsmanship defects, or the material can be damaged.
Consider replacing the floor trim or baseboard if it’s in an unusable state. If new baseboards aren’t a viable option right now for any reason, the next two solutions are fittingly adequate to fix the gaps between your floor trim and hardwood or tile flooring, but not ideal for carpet.
- Caulk and Paint the Gaps
Caulking the gaps between baseboards and floors is a simple and effective solution. Ideally, caulk works best on tiny gaps, but you can seal reasonably larger spaces and paint the surface to retain the original aesthetics of the floor trim. However, caulking isn’t an option for carpets.
Almost all baseboards need caulking after installation to hide gaps between the floor trim and the wall, and other such visible spaces, including cracks if any. It’s easy to continue with the same process to seal all the gaps between the trims or baseboards and the floor.
All you need is a loaded caulking gun, sponge or soft cloth, and the optional paint & primer. Watch this simple YouTube video tutorial to caulk a floor trim or baseboard:
- Use Shoe or Quarter-Round Molding
Caulk can be a fitting solution to fix the gaps under a baseboard. However, you can also consider shoe molding or quarter-round trims to hide the gaps and enhance the aesthetics of the entire installation. Both shoe and quarter-round moldings are essentially additional trims.
Where the baseboard may not be flexible enough to contour to the uneven floor, shoe or quarter round is thinner and more flexible and can easily hide the gap left by the baseboard.
Shoe moldings are 10.9 to 12.7 mm (0.43 to 0.5 in) wide and 19.05 to 25.4 mm (0.75 to 1 in) high. The standard size is 12.7 mm by 19.05 mm (0.5 in by 0.75 in). Quarter-round moldings are usually 19.05 mm (0.75 in) wide and 19.05 mm (0.75 in) high.
So, choose shoe moldings if you want smaller trims or quarter-rounds for a slightly larger finish. The cross-section of a quarter-round molding is essentially one-fourth of a circle, so its exterior surface is a smooth curve, whereas shoe trims don’t have a perfectly circular surface.
Your choice depends on personal preferences and a few compulsions, primarily emanating from the size of the room, including the floor area and ceiling height. Larger rooms may look better with quarter-round moldings, but shoe trims are more suitable for smaller spaces.
Here’s a good YouTube video about shoe and quarter-round moldings for baseboards:
- Use Self-Leveling Underlayment & Clips
This remedy isn’t a quick-fix solution and is inapplicable unless you redo the entire flooring, including the underlayment or subfloor. An uneven floor, for whatever reason, will have unsightly gaps with the baseboard. The best solution is self-leveling underlayment and clips.
You may still manage with carpets to neutralize the unevenness, bumps, and bows and conceal the gaps between the floor and the baseboard. However, it’s nearly impossible to do so on hardwood or tiled floors. Shoe or quarter-round moldings and caulk are your only alternatives.
Those remodeling or renovating a house should consider self-leveling underlayment and clips. Unless the investment is a non-starter, it will prevent unaesthetic gaps between floors and baseboards. These special underlayment is not cheap, albeit the clips for tiles have reasonable prices.
Even if your floor is perfectly leveled, baseboards or trims may have some gaps. Use caulk or choose a shoe or quarter-round moldings for the gaps, depending on the sizes and your aesthetic preferences. Replace damaged, warped, or deformed baseboards, but try to ensure that your floor is perfectly even before you conclude that the trim is the main problem.
- East Coast Flooring & Interiors: How Does a Self-Leveling Underlayment Work?
- The Belsaw Company: Standard Base Shoe & Quarter Round Moldings
- YouTube: You’re a “HACK” if you use 1/4 ROUND TRIM or SHOE MOLDING
- YouTube: HOW TO CAULK TRIM – EASY METHOD, NO MESS, LEARN TO CAULK LIKE A PRO, CAULK BASEBOARDS – TIMS TIP #12
- YouTube: How to use Tile Leveling Clips by Peygran