Guide on How to Install Quarter Round Molding 


Skirting boards are usually straight and inflexible, but floor coverings are often not. Older homes often have sabers between joists, and even in new installations it can be difficult to get floors perfectly flat and smooth. How to install quarter round molding to fix this gap?

How to Install Quarter Round Molding 

To install quarter round properly, you can follow the instruction below:

  • Measure and mark the first cut piece

Rather than trying to measure, mark, and cut all the pieces before nailing, it’s easier to avoid mistakes by measuring, cutting, and installing the trim one piece at a time.

If you start with a piece that fits in an outside corner, e.g. around a stud or wall arch, you can position the molding across the wall and use a pencil to mark the ends of the molding at the wall intersection. If you are installing a base shoe molding, make sure the long edge of the molding is upright against the wall applied.

Make a light angle mark to show the general direction of the miter cut – it doesn’t have to be exact. The purpose of the marker is just a reminder of the general direction of the 45 degree cut.

If you’re starting with a molding that fits in corners, measure the entire length of the wall and mark a long piece of molding with those dimensions.

If you use a miter saw that can shave a small amount of wood clean, you can cut it a hair long. If you’re using a hand saw and miter box, it’s best to get the length right for the first cut because fine adjustments are difficult.

  • Miter cut of the first molding

Set the hand saw or miter saw blade at 45 degrees. Position the trim piece on the miter box or saw blade so that the saw blade just touches the pencil mark. Make sure the saw blade is on the outside edge of the pencil mark, leaving the mark It’s very easy to cut too short if you cut through the mark yourself. Make the first cut. Rotate the saw 45 degrees in the opposite direction, and then cut the other end of the trim at an opposite 45 degree angle.

  • Test the first piece

Position the first cut piece of paneling in its wall location and check its length. If it’s a bit too long, you can take a thin slicing from one end of the molding so it fits snugly. Still attach the non-first piece as it needs to be moveable until you cut the second piece.

  • Cut out the second piece

Measure, mark and cut the second piece of fairing. Make sure the angle is cut correctly so the part correctly matches the miter angle of the first part.

  • Test the second piece

Lay this second piece of fairing on the floor and check the length and fit with the first piece.

Experienced carpenters, when faced with corners that are slightly out of square, can adjust the angles of the miter cuts to get the trim pieces to fit snugly. For example, if an outside corner is 94 degrees instead of 90 degrees, make the trim miters at 47 degrees for a perfect fit. DIYers can also experiment with different angles using waste trim to achieve a perfect fit.

  • Nail the first two pieces then continue

Position each ornament and attach with a nail or by hand nailing with a hammer and nail set.

The tool of choice for nailing shoe shapes or quarter rounds is an electric finish or brad nailer. This tool automatically sets or deepens small finish nails and can greatly speed up your work. To use a nailer, first calibrate the depth of using a piece of scrap on a different scrap board. At the perfect depth, drive the finished nails or brads about every 18 inches. Hold the nailer almost horizontaly, but angled it slightly downward. Hold the nailer firmly against the floor and baseboard while firing the nailer.

When nailing by hand, drive each nail almost flush with the wood surface, then tap it just under the surface with one set and the hammer.

Continue measuring, cutting and nailing the trim pieces around the room piece by piece.

  • Create a return piece to finish off the ends

A back is a small piece of molding that neatly finishes the end of a quarter round or shoe molding where it ends without turning another corner. It’s not necessary to cut a return, but it’s an added finish, making your work look more professional as it hides the end grain wood that’s exposed if you trim the trim straight at the end.

This is the way to a return:

For the piece that ends in a return, lay down a piece of molding that is a few inches longer than the length you need. Mark your intersection on the molding bottom and not on the top. As before, put down a light pencil mark to indicate your angle. Cut the piece at a 45 degree angle, position and nail in place.

  • Measure and mark the return part

A return piece is a very short piece that fits into the elbow at the end of the first piece. Position a second short piece of miter paneling against the wall, miter end matching the miter of the previous piece.

  • Cut off the return piece

Cutting the tiny piece of recoil fairing can be a challenge, especially on a chainsaw where the speed of the saw blade can break the small piece. Instead, you may want to make this cut with a manual miter box and saw. Cut the small return piece across its end at a 90 degree angle. Then test the return piece to make sure it fits. If not, cut off a new return piece.

  • Glue the return part

Nailing a retrieval piece is impractical because the wood will splinter when a nail is driven in. Instead, apply a lit wood le bit to the mitered edge of the return part, where it meets the first piece. Do not paste the wall side or bottom side of the return piece.

Press the return piece firmly so that the mitered edges meet and allow the pieces to sit undisturbed until the glue dries. Masking off the pieces with painter’s tape will keep them in place while the glue sets.

  • Flatten protruding nails

Rarely required when using a finish/brad nailer set to the correct depth. Despite this, finish nail heads occasionally protrude from the fairing.

Hitting the nail head with a hammer will damage the fairing. Instead, use a nail set and a hammer to lightly tap the nail heads until they are driven down just below the surface of the panel. Remove painter’s tape from bonded return pieces.

Touch up the paint or finish the paneling if necessary. If there are small gaps between the moldings where the corners were slightly off-square, you can fill them with matching wood putty. With painted trim, you can fill those gaps with caulk.


As the name suggests, a quarter round molding appears as one quarter of a full circle when viewed from the end, with both flat faces being the same width. The length the quarter-round shape sticks out of the wall is the same as its height. 

To master quarter round installation, you’ll just need to follow the instruction above. You may not do it perfectly at first, but keep practicing!

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