We are removing our carpet to be replaced with locking laminate flooring. I am pulling the baseboard molding because we want to replace it with 3 1/4" MDF baseboard to be painted. Some of the reason we are doing this is to avoid having to stain to match and install hundreds of feet of shoe molding. Now I am told this is necessary contrary to what I was initially. Our floors are level.

The contractor also wants to caulk the top of the baseboard which it wasn't before and believe is not necessary. The baseboard is somewhat flexible and should bond to the wall so I can get a strait paint edge.


2 Answers 2


There needs to be a 1/4" gap next to all walls to allow the flooring room to expand.

This gap should be covered with trim of some sort. The problem with baseboard alone, is that most baseboard is 3/8" thick, leaving only an 1/8" of an inch for the wood to contract without exposing the edge. This also assumes that the flooring is laid with tremendous precision, which it is likely not.

So your options are:

  1. Find thicker baseboards. Door and window casing comes in 3/4" thickness and can be used.
  2. Use quarter round or shoe molding to thicken the baseboard.
  3. Use door stop in the same way you would use shoe molding.
  4. Undercut the drywall so the flooring can expand underneath and use regular baseboard (thanks Matthew)

I had the 3rd option done in my basement, and it turned out pretty nicely.

I would also recommend the caulk. It makes everything look nicer.

  • 2
    +1 And the shoe molding or door stop can be painted to match the baseboard rather than the floor.
    – bib
    Oct 24, 2013 at 19:06
  • 5
    If you don't want shoe molding (as I didn't in my home) I undercut all the drywall, giving the wood an additional 1/2 inch of expansion space (as the possible expense of drafts)
    – Matthew
    Oct 24, 2013 at 19:23
  • @Matthew Excellent option. Oct 24, 2013 at 19:24

Neither caulk nor shoe moulding are mandatory. They are aesthetic decisions and both are used to typically cover gaps. If you don't like the gaps, use them. If the gaps aren't there and don't bother you, no biggie.

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