What Do You Need to Remove Baseboard Trim?
To remove baseboards, you will need a utility knife, a putty knife, a pry bar, a claw hammer, pliers, and protective gloves. You will use the putty knife to create a gap between the wall and baseboard and the pry bar to gently pull the baseboard away from the wall, working in small sections to avoid damage.
Read on for full step-by-step instructions.
Last Updated: April 12, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
In this post we are going to give you clear baseboard removal tips that will ensure easy baseboard removal without damaging your walls. You will learn which tools you need and whether you even need to remove your baseboards in the first place.
There’s more to installing your own flooring than laying the floor itself. Preparing the subfloor, dealing with floor transitions and, today’s topic, removing baseboards are all skills you will need if you plan to do the work yourself.
As ever, we recommend getting a couple of free estimates from local contractors to give yourself a clear idea of the cost and time advantages (or disadvantages) of a DIY installation.
So today on Ask the Home Flooring Pros we’re going to take you through the step-by-step process of baseboard removal…and more importantly, how to remove baseboard without damaging the walls.
DO I NEED TO REMOVE MY BASEBOARDS?
Before you get started it’s worth checking whether you need to remove your baseboard or not. Even if you’re removing and replacing your flooring, you won’t necessarily need to remove all your baseboards.
For example, if you’re swapping like for like and your new flooring can be slid back into place, under your baseboard easily, then there’s no need for baseboard removal. Similarly, if you’re installing, say, carpet which will butt up against the side of your baseboard, you can leave your baseboards where they are.
Even in a situation where the floor level drops slightly, and you can now see a gap between your floor and the baseboard, you still have the option to cover the gap by installing quarter-round molding rather than removing and replacing all your baseboards.
The one situation where you will definitely need to remove your baseboards is when you’re increasing the height of your flooring, for example if your’re taking out vinyl sheet flooring and replacing it with hardwood planks. In this situation you will definitely want to remove baseboards, without damaging the walls, and re-install them at the new height above the wood planks.
So let’s look now at the tools you will need and the step by step process to follow.
HOW TO REMOVE BASEBOARD – STEP BY STEP
We’ll assume that you will reuse the baseboard once you’ve installed your new flooring. If you’ve got new baseboard planned, you can be much more aggressive in tearing out the old. Here’s how to remove baseboard without damaging the wall or the trim.
TOOLS FOR REMOVING BASEBOARD:
Trim puller or small prybar
Follow these step-by-step baseboard removal instructions for a quick, easy job.
Step One: Gather all your tools together first – utility knife, pry bar, putty knife, claw hammer, pliers, marker and gloves.
Step Two: Correctly Prep the Room. Clear the furniture out of the room, or fully away from the walls, and cover the floor with a dust sheet or drop cloth to protect it while you work.
Step Three: There’s a good chance the painted drywall is stuck to the baseboard trim, and it will tear if not cut first, creating a patch-and-paint task. Instead, score the wall using the utility knife. Hold it at a slight downward angle, so that the cut you make into the wall will be behind the baseboard when reinstalled.
Step Four: First stage prying: Don’t start straight off with your pry bar. Instead insert the putty knife, somewhere near a corner, between the wall and the baseboard to create a small gap. With your hammer, gently tap the handle of the putty knife easing it further behind the baseboard. Give the putty knife a jiggle to create a slightly larger gap for your prybar.
Step Five: Second stage prying: Now you can insert the teeth of the prybar or trim puller behind the top edge of the baseboard. It might also require a light tap from a hammer or mallet. Gently rotate the handle downward to pry the baseboard away from the wall from that point to the next fastener. A common mistake is to push the handle toward the wall to force off the board. That technique will dent the wall above where the baseboard will cover requiring more patching and painting!
Step Six: Work slowly and gently, in small sections, the full length of the board, until it comes away from the wall.
Step Seven: This step is for those planning to reuse the baseboard. When a full piece of baseboard comes off the wall, number the back of it with the marker for easier re-installation.
Step Eight: Move to the next nail, and pry the baseboard off it. In most cases, the nail will remain secure in the stud and its head will pull through the baseboard. Repeat the techniques of removing and numbering pieces until all the baseboard is off.
Step Nine: Use the claw hammer or pliers to remove the old nails (preferred) or drive them into the studs so that the head is not left sticking up at all.
Step 10: Clean up the wall. Once the baseboard is removed, clean the wall and floor to remove any leftover caulk, adhesive, or debris.
Remember that you will be replacing the baseboards after you have installed your flooring so you will need new nails and quite possibly more paint for retouching damaged paint work. If after removing the baseboards you find that they are damaged in anyway then now would be a good time to buy and install new baseboards as they aren’t expensive.
Before you begin to remove your baseboard, check to make sure whether it’s even necessary. This is not a difficult task but it is time consuming and should be avoided if possible. If you decide that baseboard removal is necessary then gather all your tools and take your time. Avoid rushing the process to avoid damaging your wall and creating more work for yourself!
Related Reading: Tools to Remove Tile
About the Author:
Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).
“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”