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My house was built in the 40's. It is in upstate New York. There is a draft in the bedrooms where the exterior wall meets the floor, which is hardwood. I can think of several ways of sealing the draft.

  1. Use transparent caulk where the baseboard meets the wall and where the baseboard meets the floor.

  2. Temporarily remove the baseboard and do something more effective -- perhaps paint with something like mastic or flexseal (having first put down masking tape), or perhaps somehow install a strip of some sort of tape or barrier sheet to cover the line where the wall meets the floor. Put the molding back.

  3. We are thinking of getting rid of the hardwood floor and replacing it with laminate, because the floor is uneven and creaks and squeaks something crazy. If we do this, maybe there is some special procedure to be done after removing the old floor and before putting in the new laminate.

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There are several ways the air can reach the gap between the floor and wall. Your best solution would be to find the entry point and seal it there. Unfortunately, that's almost impossible so your next best answer is to seal the gap between the wall and floor.

Your first answer, caulking above & below the baseboard, is the least obtrusive but would be the least permanent. As the wall and floor flex with changes in temperature, humidity, and load, the 2 seals could break loose. The seal against the floor is also likely to be knocked loose with regular sweeping and foot traffic. Although better than no seal, it's not my preferred approach.

I did similar to your second answer in the laundry room of my own 1929 home. I removed the baseboard & trim, stuffed any gaps over 1/8" (2-3mm) with foam, then caulked over the foam and reinstalled the trim & baseboard. It's amazing how much air leaks through such a small gap! The water lines to my washer froze several times before I sealed the gap; the space hasn't dropped below 50F since I sealed it.

If you remove the hardwood to replace it, remove the trim as well and use the opportunity to seal any gaps where the wall meets the floor. Walk around the floor inch by inch and screw down (not nail!) anyplace that moves or squeaks. A simple web search will find more about eliminating floor squeaks. Also look into a roll underlayment to go between the subfloor and new, floating, laminate. This would isolate the laminate from the subfloor to eliminate another source of squeaks and cover gaps in the subfloor, reducing drafts from below.

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  • Roll underlayment -- this is new to me. Do you mean something like this? homedepot.com/p/…. If I'm replacing the flooring, would it be good to extend this slightly up the wall (to be covered by the molding i.e. trim)? – aparente001 Dec 11 '19 at 18:45
  • Yes, that's the type of material I had in mind. As for wrapping it up the wall, it's 3mm thick. How would your trim look spaced that far out from the wall? – Eric Simpson Dec 12 '19 at 21:34
  • I see. After putting down the underlayment, cutting it to extend exactly to the edge of the room, and sealing with foam where needed, and caulk, should I paint with mastic or Flex Seal or something just above the underlayment? I think Flex Seal makes a thinner film than mastic. And maybe there's some other paintable sealing product. I do find that painting down at floor level is easier on my back than caulking (when it's a lot of feet of caulking). – aparente001 Dec 12 '19 at 22:23

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