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How to Install a Rubber Kickplate Under Cabinets

Elizabeth Chaplin

Rubber kick plates, or toe-kicks, are referred to as “cove bases.” Rubber cove bases or molding are often used in commercial kitchens due to its easy maintenance and low cost. When installing rubber cove base underneath kitchen cabinets, it is typical to simply attach one large piece, wrapping it around corners.

Cornered rubber cove bases can be purchased, but it is more cost efficient to use tools to make wrapping easier. This type of molding is great for high-traffic kitchens.

  1. Choose the desired size of cove base for the area that needs to be covered. Cove base comes in several colors and widths. It typically comes in roll form.

  2. Position the cove base at a primary corner in the kitchen. Cove base can be started at any corner, but it is easier to install if the corner is near the center point of the cove base piece.

  3. Use the top set gouge to cut a strip of material from the back of the cove base at one of the corner points. A top set gouge is a tool used to remove thickness from the back of the cove base to make it easier to fold it over corners. Position the blade at the bottom of the cove base at the corner point, and apply pressure to the gouge while pushing it up to the top end of the cove base. Fold the cove base over the corner. If the cove base puckers, more material may need to be removed.

  4. Apply contact cement to the corner area. Then heat the area along the gouged back of the cove base with the heat gun. This will soften the cove base, making it easier to mold. Pinch the cove base while pressing it into place on the glued corner. Do the same for inverse corners, or corners that bend inward instead of outward, but this time fold the corner inward before gluing into place.

  5. Begin pressing the rubber cove base along the trim, making sure the molding is straight and flush with the floor. Cove base can be installed along the trim under the sink or around the entire kitchen depending on preference.

  6. Use the vinyl tile cutter or utility knife to cut off the excess rubber molding when you are finished installing the cove base in the areas needed.

  7. Tip

    Choose a cove base color that goes with the existing wall color in the kitchen. Darker-colored cove base is great for hiding scuff marks from shoes. Some cove base is self-adhesive. Although easier to install, it is difficult to use the top set gouge for corner cutting because of the sticky back. Cove base can be purchased in large rolls for big areas (20 to 120 feet) or small strips for smaller areas (48 inches to 4 feet).