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I have an old house which probably dates back to 1920s or so. Most walls are plaster and the outside walls are brick. Tenants in the 80s or 90s did not take good care of it. It was rehabbed, quickly and a bit shoddily (which I did not really discover until after I bought it). So there are tons of examples of cutting corners (literally; when we removed some drywall to do some work we discovered one corner did not actually have a stud supporting it).

We had a handyman lay the floor but not the trim. He installed it against the existing baseboard and I'm installing shoe molding to hide the gaps.

The dining room has around 10 feet of base molding which bows considerably, as does the wall behind it.

I've heard people mention that sometimes older homes used green wood which bowed when it dried. Here's the thing, though: when I push against the bottom of the wall, it gives noticeably. I'm wondering if it's possible that this wall is not really attached to anything — at least, not in the bottom middle — and if it would be possible to attach the base of the wall to something sturdy behind it (probably the brick as I'm not at all certain that there are studs there that I can use) so that it no longer gives or bows.

If this is a bad idea for some reason, what are my options for attaching shoe molding? Do I just force it against the curved baseboard? Do I cut it into shorter pieces to compensate, and angle the lengths accordingly?

  • How tall is the base you have now since it may have been replaced? The answer may help your problem. – Jack Mar 22 '15 at 3:19
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Base shoe molding is really rather flexible and should be able to push up to walls that are more than an inch or so out of alignment over a reasonable length of say nine or ten feet.

You did not show any picture or quantify the amount of bowing that exists so it is hard to take the shoe molding fit any farther without more information.

Normally when installing shoe molding it is nailed with just short finish nails into the baseboard. You do not attempt to use huge nails in an attempt to reach through into the studs. For cases where it seems that you are trying to nail the base shoe into a spongy surface I have found it to be useful to fasten it in place with a pneumatic brad nailer. The nailer imparts a lot of energy directly onto the brads so that they drive home without the bouncy flex of a wall section being much of an issue.

The bouncy and unsupported wall sections may very well have to be left for a discussion on another day.

  • The traditionl way that shoe mold is attached is into the flooring. The idea is to hide the gap created by the expansion and contraction created by the seasonal movement of wood. There is a gap created at the bottom edge of the base where it meets the floor by this seasonal change. Shoe is fastened so it stays tight to the floor and the base moves behind it. I only bring this up since it sounds like the intent is to nail it to the base. The base still will give you trouble, trying to push hard enough to get some of the bow out of if. A 2nd set of hands will help here if you choose to leave it. – Jack Mar 22 '15 at 3:15
  • @Jack - Flooring is installed with a gap at the wall to allow the flooring to expand and contract within the plane of the floor. The lateral floor expansion will greatly exceed the thickness expansion of the flooring material. If you try nailing the base shoe to the flooring itself then the shoe will pull away from the base board when the flooring material contracts and will be jammed up too tight to the baseboard when the flooring expands. The correct idea is that the shoe molding is brought down to the flooring surface but covers the flooring gap and is nailed into the base board. – Michael Karas Mar 22 '15 at 8:14
  • Just to clarify, I am not planning on attaching the shoe molding to the wall behind it, just the baseboard. But I am wondering if the shoe molding will install more easily if I firmly attached the baseboard to the wall. – Jordan Reiter Mar 22 '15 at 15:12

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