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I just had my floors redone. Now I have a few problems with the base shoe moulding.

The floor has sunk in the corners (house inspector said this was fine) and there are gaps beneath the moulding. They look bad and are big enough that a marble or something could go under them. Any ideas on filling them? I told my wife that was part of the 100 year old house, but she didn't go for it. Would caulking be ok?

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    In spite of your home inspector's assurances to the contrary, I consider the way this floor is sagging to be a major warning sign. You want to determine WHY it's doing this. Something is wrong in the subfloor, the floor joists, or the foundation. Whatever process is going on you want to stop it and repair the damage. That would include getting the floor back to where it's supposed to be.
    – jwh20
    Sep 20 at 16:07
  • Agreed with @jwh20 - this looks like maybe water damage? Guessing that this is an exterior corner. Could be water ingress at the siding or even possibly due to ice-damming at the roof. It's definitely worth figuring out why this is happening.
    – J...
    Sep 20 at 16:44
  • Looks like they should have levelled the surface before laying the floor... Sep 20 at 20:34
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    @vikingsteve Judging from the pictures (and the fact OP is asking about a 100 year old house), OP surely meant their floors were simply refinished, not pulled up and replaced.
    – TylerH
    Sep 20 at 20:40
  • Hide the problem with a rug or conveniently-located furniture. (humour)
    – Criggie
    Sep 21 at 0:33
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Since you're not asking how to level the floor, and since that would be a much more substantial project requiring much more information, I'll just address the molding detail.

Base shoe exists in part because it bends on the vertical plane much more readily than taller base trim does. It can be made to fit floors that aren't flat without planing or other cuts. Therefore, you just need to pull it off, push it down, and nail it back on. It'll usually flex to fit the general shape of your floor and look much better afterward. You may need to use longer nails and angle them into the subfloor.

In severe cases, where the shoe simply won't flex enough, you have three options:

  • Ignore it. This is a lovely old home and it has character.
  • Put a miter or two in the shoe to add slight angles. This may serve to draw the eye to the flaw, though.
  • Caulk or fill it. Again, this may mostly draw attention to the flaw in the flooring. You'd want to use a tool such as a putty knife to get a nice flat surface. If you do so, it may make sense to paint the filled portion to match the flooring instead of leaving it white. You could also create a filler of natural wood and stain it to match the floor.

You might sand the base trim a bit before reinstallation to remove the paint edge that will remain, and you could give the shoe itself a bit of a sand to clean it up. Then install, caulk the joint on top if you like, and paint. Of course, new shoe molding would be an even better improvement since yours looks rather beat up. This wouldn't adversely affect the vintage look.

By the way, "quarter round" is a molding profile. "Base shoe" is quarter round (or other profiles) installed over base trim to conceal gaps in flooring and/or add detail. Since not all base shoe is quarter round, and since quarter round can be used for other purposes, base shoe is the better term here (or "shoe molding").

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  • I'd think that pushing the shoe molding down to fill in the dip would leave a very obvious dip in the top of the molding. It might not be quite as noticeable since it would be white molding moving against white baseboard, but it would still be pretty obvious (IMO).
    – FreeMan
    Sep 20 at 15:26
  • Inasmuch as wooden shoe molding can be bent, the curve is rarely noticeable. You'd never get it to follow that severe dip in the photo.
    – isherwood
    Sep 20 at 15:57
  • I've been calling the character "patina" some people pay a lot for distressed wood. Sep 20 at 17:46
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If you can get a look at the floor joists below, you might want to investigate why that dips so badly right there. If there's old termite damage, you're probably OK. If there is current termite activity or other rot, you may will want to fix that first.

You may be able to drive shims between the joist and flooring to push the floor up to meet the trim, then you don't have to worry about fixing the trim. If the flooring is nailed to the joist at this point (and it should be), you might have to bang up on the bottom of the flooring to loosen the nails to make room for the shims. I'd recommend using a piece of 2x4 against the bottom of the floor, then hit the other end of the 2x4 with your hammer. This will prevent damaging the flooring, and will likely give you much more room to swing the hammer. Once you've got some space, drive two shims, one from each side, between the joist & floor. They should go in fairly flat, moving the boards up evenly.

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  • This is good info for someone before they have the floors redone. I'm not pulling up floor boards to address that at this point Sep 20 at 15:10
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    I'm not suggesting pulling up floor boards @TobyKathan. This advice would only be possible to follow if you've got open access to this floor from below (or are willing to make open access - perhaps cut out some drywall from the ceiling below).
    – FreeMan
    Sep 20 at 15:23

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