If you are fitting a new floor, regardless of what it is, you will need to buy moldings and trims to finish off the job properly and make a good, professional looking finish. A common question is "What type/amount of moldings do I need?" Floor trim comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and this article should enable you to confidently measure and order the correct amount and type for each specific purpose.
Various terminology is used to describe floor moldings; transition strip, corner strip and quadrant for example. Basically what all these terms are describing is what we call floor molding. The illustrations are just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. You may well find that the product you buy is slightly different from these examples. Don't worry, they all do the same job and should look just as good.
Types of Floor Trim
Quarter Round Molding
This type of floor molding is used to cover the expansion gap between the edge of the floor and the wall or skirting board (if there is one). If you have, for example a 1/4(6mm) inch expansion gap, you would purchase a quarter round molding that was approximately 100% wider than the gap. So in this case the molding would be 1/2 (12mm) inch. A cheap way to buy these floor moldings is unfinished - you will need to stain them to match your flooring. Alternatively you can buy them pre-finished in the same material as your floor but obviously at a higher cost. They are widely available from your local hardware store.
Square Nose or End Cap Molding
This type of floor molding is most commonly used to "join" two flooring materials of differing types. The molding provides an easy way to make a professional join without the trouble of butting two flooring types end-to-end; it is quick and will save you a lot of time and trouble. Other uses for it are where there is no need for an expansion gap but you still want to use an edging strip for a more aesthetic look; against metal door tracking, walls, kitchen bench tops, or in fact as an alternative to quarter round.
More specific to joining two flooring materials together, the reducing strip is used where two floors meet but are at differing heights. This is common where two differing flooring materials are used and provides a neat and simple way to solve the problem easily and cheaply. Again, all these moldings are available from your local hardware store, in various materials but commonly wood. They provide a measure of anti-trip protection as well, so there are some safety benefits to using these floor moldings too.
Where you have two flooring materials that meet at the same height, then you should utilize T Molding. As a jointing solution between connecting rooms, this molding looks professional and is quick and easy to fit. One important factor to consider when using this type of floor molding is that both flooring heights need to be exactly at the same height as each other. I have seen this floor molding used on floors that were clearly not the same height, firstly it looks awful and second, the strip will almost certainly break at some stage of its life, so use wisely. Make sure too, that there is adequate space between the floor edge and the "T" piece of the strip, in other words room to expand and contract.
Stair Nose Molding
Used to cover the edge of two 90 degree joined edges, this molding is available in either overlapping or flush molding. Overlapping covers more sins than does the flush type and is much easier to fix in place. The molding makes vertical and horizontal joins invisible and looks very professional too.
The problem with using the flush type of floor molding is that the edge of the timber you are sitting the molding over needs to be dead straight. This is fine if you can use it over a factory machined piece of timber, but in practice this isn't always possible, which is why I favor the overlapping type.
How much Floor Molding do I need?
There are a couple of steps to make this an easy job - first, work out what type of molding you are likely to need and second, grab a tape measure and start measuring! But Remember the carpenter's adage...
Also, rather than simply adding on 10% to what you actually need, take a look in your local hardware store first and see what lengths the floor molding comes in, that way you can keep wastage to a minimum and keep the job looking professional. In other words, try to buy floor molding that does not have to be joined. For example if you have a wall that is 12 feet long, and molding comes in 13-feet lengths, buy the 13 foot length. Likewise, if you have a 3-foot, 5-foot and 7-foot length to cover for example, write them down then add them up and divide into the available lengths to get the least wastage. So in this example 5 + 7 = 12 (buy one 13 foot length), and buy the smallest length to cover the remaining wall without a join. It's not rocket science, but I've seen so many jobs ruined by people trying to scrimp and save on what is really the least expensive part of the job.
Of course, if you have an extremely long wall or join to cover, then you will have to join the molding. You can always get these moldings specially made for you. Again, this will be at a premium price, but personally I would always spend that little bit extra to get a quality finish that I would be proud to show off.