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I am evaluating a quote to refinish my hardwood floors and stairs.

The contractor mentioned that they would not be removing the quarter-round below the base board and it would require touch up after the job is done. The alternative is to remove the quarter-round, and reinstall with caulk after finishing the floors. Based on the additional labor the cost of the work would be higher.

What are the relative advantages and disadvantages in regard to appearance, durability, and cost of removing/not removing quarter round?

  • Reasonable is fairly subjective. Is it worth the time and/or money to have a better looking final product? "Requires touch-up" is a euphemism for "we'll try to get close to the edges, but we'll ding the quarter-round in a couple places." – Comintern Jul 30 '14 at 1:48
  • I guess by reasonable I mean, is it possible to have a good looking final product without removing the quarter round? Also, if the quarter round is not removed, is it really that easy to touch up the quarter-round without getting paint on the floor? – Chase Jul 30 '14 at 1:53
  • It's a lot easier than you'd think, but the quarter-round isn't really the issue - it's the "close to the edges" part. With the quarter-round off you can sand close enough to the baseboard that the quarter-round covers up the areas that get missed by the sander. – Comintern Jul 30 '14 at 1:56
  • So is this guy just cutting corners by not removing the quarter round? Or is removing the quarter round an ask that needs to be explicit from the consumer? – Chase Jul 30 '14 at 1:57
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    I wouldn't say he's cutting corners at all - he was pretty up-front in saying that his quote didn't include removing the quarter-round or retouches. More likely, they're just offering you the opportunity to cut corners to save on cost. Personally, I'd pull the quarter-round myself and reinstall it after they're done. – Comintern Jul 30 '14 at 2:06
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The answer depends on what you are willing to accept for a finished result. Removing the quarter-round allows the edger to reach underneath what is visible when the quarter-round is re-installed. Even the most fastidious edging is going to be visible to close inspection if the trim isn't removed. The extent to which it is obvious depends largely on the skill of the person doing the work, but it is impossible to hide completely unless the trim covers it.

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Depending on the condition of the floor when you start, the condition of the trim, skill of the work, this can look decent or pretty bad:

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Keep in mind that this isn't the only cosmetic consideration. The other would be what the condition of the trim is. If you have several layers of paint, it might look worse if you remove the quarter-round. For example, the trim below would be a major pain to re-finish and look anywhere near decent.

enter image description here

My personal inclination would be to remove the quarter-round myself, have a professional do the floor sanding, and then re-trim it and paint it myself. I have quite a bit of experience installing trim, so your mileage my vary.

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Contractors are not interchangeable. Each has their own skill set, business model, and targeted market segment. Just asking if it makes sense not to remove the quarter round may be a sign that the person offering to do the work may not be the right fit for your job.

The contractor whose business model is largely based on refinishing floors for investors looking to flip houses and referrals from real-estate agents helping owners prepare houses for sale makes their money because they are fast and 'good enough'. At the other end of the spectrum are artisans who happen to contract. They simply won't cut corners.

And that's really what this boils down to, the value of cutting corners. How close to the limits of material and human craft does the project need to be and what value an individual places upon it.

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The quarter round (in this case referred to as base shoe) has no purpose other than to conceal the joint between the base and the floor. If you don't remove before you refinish the floors there will be a line in floor where you stopped sanding. It has to come off. I'm baffled that a flooring re-finisher would suggest otherwise.

  • Thanks for your input! This is actually what I meant when I asked if it were reasonable. I'm new to this and didn't know whether removing or not removing the trim was necessary, and didn't know if he was cutting corners or not. He actually didn't tell me he wasn't removing the quarter round until I told him that I was painting one of my rooms, then he responded by saying to not paint the quarter-round because they will get scratched during the refinishing process and to paint afterwards. It was this that prompted me to do a little more research. – Chase Aug 1 '14 at 2:56
  • Glad to help. Hope your project goes well. – user23534 Aug 1 '14 at 22:26

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