Shoe molding at the base of baseboards can split while you're installing it.

How to Fix a Split in Prefinished Moulding

by Chris Deziel

When some retailers talk about prefinished interior molding, they usually mean polystyrene molding, but wood molding also comes prefinished. Both can split -- although wood is more susceptible to this particular defect -- and the repair is the same for both materials. Splits often happen when you drive a nail into thin material, such as quarter-round molding, and the nail is too close to the edge. You may also have a defective piece of molding -- it happens. You can glue most splits back together, and the best adhesive for the job is good old water-soluble, easy-to-use carpenter's glue.

Remove the nail if the split happened while you were driving one. If you can, take out the rest of the nails and remove the trim, but if that's impractical, shim the split area away from the wall so you can wrap transparent tape around it. If the split trim isn't installed or you're able to remove it, lay it on a flat surface.

Separate the split with a flat-head screwdriver while you dab carpenter's glue onto the wood on both sides of the split with a toothpick.

Close the split and hold it together while you wrap transparent tape around the molding. Pull the tape tight as you're wrapping. Wipe off the glue that oozes out of the split with a damp rag. If the molding isn't installed, you can also use C-clamps to hold the split together.

Let the glue dry overnight, then remove the tape. Sand the repair with 150-grit sandpaper, then touch up the bare wood with wood primer. Apply a coat of paint after the primer dries.

Items you will need

  • Shims
  • Transparent tape
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Toothpick
  • C-clamps
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Wood primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush


  • If the split is a small one, and you are thorough about wiping off the excess glue while it's wet, you may not need a touch-up paint coat.
  • A more efficient way to spread the glue into a split is to use a syringe, but it isn't practical to fill one unless you have more uses for it. Dilute the glue with 10-percent water to make it flow more easily if you use a syringe.


  • Avoid other types of glue when repairing interior woodwork. Polyurethane glue foams and it, as well as epoxy glue, is more difficult to clean. Polyurethane and epoxy are waterproof, however, and are better choices for outdoor repairs.

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.

Photo Credits

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