Please help me figure out how to get our trim to work with our new floor.
March 5, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

We just put in a new floating laminate floor and it looks great, but we aren't sure what to do about the trim.

My husband and I have been working really hard on this house and just put in a new laminate floor. It looks great and and the plan was to finish it by simply going around the edge of the room with quarter round (to cover the gap left). Since there is already vinyl trim around the base of the wall, we painted the quarter round to match it and this worked well and looked fantastic in the main room.

In the hall, however, there are problems. Three doors open up into this tiny little hallway area and there is also a built-in cabinet. The trim pieces went right down to the carpet before, but now that there is a wood floor in place, there is a gap at the bottom of the trim. The trim is also angled, so just placing quarter round up against it looks stupid.

My husband is handy and attempted to do his best, but to me it doesn't look finished at all.

Here are some pictures to illustrate what we are dealing with. The third photo illustrates the biggest problem spot, in my opinion.

Because of the angled trim and the way that the trim meets in the corners, I'm not sure how to proceed. A friend recommended installing plinths at the bottom, which we looked into, but we're not sure how to do that, either. The local hardware/lumber store (Menard's) had inside corners and outside corners, but neither will work with the way that the trim is notched together instead of mitered.

My husband says he Googled this and found no solutions. I insist that there must be *some* way this is dealt with. Neither of us are really willing to replace the trim, especially after all we went through to paint it (the pictures show simply a primer coat, so that's why it looked so bad at that point).

So, can anyone help? I think each picture shows somewhat of a different problem with the quarter round. It just doesn't flow with the molding and there are big gaps being left behind in places.

Thanks in advance, and if this is confusing, I'll do my best to answer questions.
posted by bristolcat to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
I would cover it with square trim painted white like the walls. Find a 1x4 or anything that's taller than the existing trim and make make sort of a base around the door jam and that pillar-type thing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:22 PM on March 5, 2010

What is the amount of gap? Are we talking about 1/8" or 3/8" or 3/4"? If it's small, a good job of caulk will sooth all ills - if someone is decently talented at caulk. If it's large that's going to mean you'll need more adjustment to the layout.

Is the quarter round going to be painted to match the door trim or left as the dark contrast? The contrast calls greater attention to the problem.
posted by mightshould at 1:28 PM on March 5, 2010

The gap varies, but it seems to be around 3/4". I don't know that caulk will work. In places, the gap is very noticeable and wide.

We're willing to paint the quarter round any color to make it less of a contrast, but I still think it looks silly with the gaps and the angle of the trim.

And just so it's clear, we're not afraid to rip that quarter round back off if we need to take a different approach. It's the door trim/frame that we're not keen on replacing.
posted by bristolcat at 1:31 PM on March 5, 2010

The correct way to install a floating floor around door frames is to cut away enough of the bottom of the door trim so that the flooring can slide underneath; that gives you a tidy edge without any need for extra trim. Then, provided the floor is about 10mm from the wall around the edges, you can install a fairly thick (>15mm) skirting board along the walls. I realise this doesn't help after the fact.

I agree that you'd be better off with something white - it'll draw the eye much less. And definitely something with a bit of height, like skirting.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:32 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

And by 'door trim' I mean the casing, as it's properly called, at least in the US.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:33 PM on March 5, 2010

Since the door casing was already undercut so greatly - that's a lot for simple carpet - I'd consider wrapping the whole area (walls and door casing) as mentioned above.

What material is the dark base trim on the walls? Is this something you can match or should this be removed and the whole area trimmed anew?

Consider something flexible such as a composite material - they're pretty bendy.
posted by mightshould at 1:44 PM on March 5, 2010

What does it meant to wrap the whole area?

The dark base trim is a vinyl rubbery material. It's glued to the wall and is not coming off. It's also in every room of the house.
posted by bristolcat at 1:45 PM on March 5, 2010

Ugh. Kind of a bad situation. I would have taken off all the baseboard and reinstalled it. Extra cost though and it won't solve 100% of the problems. For the gaps I'd get natural coloured wood filler and just fill it in. It's totally not going to wear very well, but it's against walls so no one will be walking on it. It will camouflage the gaps to a cursory glance. Like in photo #3, just jam some wood filler in there and it will mask it pretty well.

And if it sucks you can always scrape it out.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2010

That vinyl trim has got to go. It was installed along with vinyl flooring and is just too thin of a baseboard to go with anything other than more vinyl flooring. I know it's glued on there, but wedge a putty knife in there and yank it off (test it out in the back of a closet, first). You'll tear up the bottom of your walls a bit but that's what tall baseboards are for, the proper height of wood baseboard will completely hide the mess left behind by the vinyl baseboards.

Once you've got wood baseboards up, you won't need the quarter rounds at all (assuming you didn't leave really big gaps between floating floor and walls). Quarter rounds at the floor level especially suck because they collect dust/grime like crazy and as you've discovered, they are awkward around corners. My house had them when I moved in and they required hands & knees cleaning on a frequent basis.

Rip out the vinyl. It's a hassle but the finished look of the end result will be well worth it.
posted by jamaro at 1:55 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wrap the whole area means that both the door casings and the vinyl/rubber base would be covered in a uniform manner.

The vinyl base is standard 4" high - was it set above the carpet by 3/4" also? Be sure and measure the distance - 3/4" is a lot of gap. Have you tried using a heat gun to remove the adhesive on the base? Maybe you'll be lucky and they didn't use construction adhesive to adhere it.
posted by mightshould at 1:59 PM on March 5, 2010

I agree that the vinyl base has got to go. I removed a bunch of this at our office--the heat gun is a good idea that I didn't try, but what I did worked: I used a utility knife to score the sheetrock along the top of the vinyl, then just ripped the vinyl off. It took some of the face paper of the sheetrock with it, but when we installed real baseboard, it was slightly taller than the old stuff so it didn't show at all.
posted by HotToddy at 2:16 PM on March 5, 2010

Thanks so much for all the responses so far! I agree that the vinyl is ugly and outdated. Unfortunately, this is the tail end of a refurb on a rental house and because of time and money restraints, the vinyl has to stay. Also, the walls are plaster, which would complicate things.

I am not sure what we are going to do yet, but you have all certainly given us a lot to think about. Thanks!
posted by bristolcat at 3:10 PM on March 5, 2010

I am in the middle of a large laminate flooring project.

1. In the future, not only do you want to cut the door *casing*, but you even want to cut the *frame* so that the laminate slips under it. It sounds like the door will fall down or something, but it works fine. :) The idea is to make it look like the laminate floor really is the hardwood subfloor that goes under all the walls, etc.--even though it isn't. In my opinion the best tool for this job for the price is here. I bought it and cut through jambs and casings for 4 doors (that's 12 cuts) in the amount of time it took me to make one trimmed side of casing by hand. Way better use of time. So the "right" way to deal with this would to have been to slip the flooring under the casing and frame. I'm assuming relaying a section of floor is impractical, but only you know for sure. I had to re-lay a section for actually this very problem! Took out a section about 4 by 10 feet, took about a half hour. There are also tools to slip out one board from the middle for repairs. So you could very well actually fix this the right way! I have often found that the solutions I do because I didn't have the time to backtrack and do it right end up taking more time than it would have to do it right.

2. You generally do not want to use wood filler right up against the floor. This floor will move--that's the reason there are expansion gaps--so you don't want to put something rigid right next to the floor and the wall.

Here's what I would do:

1: Rip up and re-lay anything that looked like I could, depending on material available, problem locations, etc. What helps you here is that all your problem locations are on the edges. You could actually solve the problem right there.

2. I'd personally also take out the vinyl. I understand you can't/won't, but there's my take. :)

3. For the absolute quickest fix, I'd look for color-matched caulk to patch the floor sections. The easiest place to get lots of caulk colors is a tiling supply store; they sell caulk that's color-matched to different grout colors, of which there are many. You want "unsanded" caulk, they also sell a sanded variety that is the texture of sanded grout which isn't applicable for your application. There may also be color-matched caulk available at stores specializing in laminate flooring that might be closer in color match. I have not been in such a store (specific to laminate) so your mileage may vary.

For the quarter-rounds that don't actually meet much/any vinyl, but just white trim--paint them white. Picture two, I'm looking at you. And surely you could just rip our that smidge of black trim in the corner? Or paint it white? But because the door trim isn't flat, and you don't usually have trim in front of door trim, I'd actually take out the quarter rounds and do something else. Either caulk (better than something rigid but still not really letting the floor move), or maybe a coped transition molding. Take something like the molding you have between laminate and vinyl/carpet we see in your pics, and carefully cope one edge to match the profile of the door casing. It's still a molding, but it's mostly horizontal. It's still an uncovered cut edge, but if you're careful it'll be a really small gap you can caulk/fill with a matched color. And if you do it right the floor could still move underneath it like it should!

Pic 3 is a special case. It's not entirely clear but it looks like your door casing was cut higher to accommodate thicker flooring in the past. If this is the case and you have a gap there I'd try to find a bit of matching molding to fill the gap after lots of wood filler and sanding. If I couldn't find the molding I'd still just try to mold something to fit. A lot of people would try something like Bondo for that, i imagine it would work well. Don't use drywall mud; it's not made to go on that thick.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:08 PM on March 5, 2010

Oh, also--whatever you end up with, trim looks better when it's caulked. So do that at the end, with a paintable caulk, before you paint. Hides all the gaps. I did a lot of baseboards before I realized that a finished job required caulk.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:10 PM on March 5, 2010

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