How to remove skirting boards?

UK Home Improvement

How to Remove Skirting Boards?

Considering removing skirting boards in your home? 

Often, when carrying out interior design or DIY, it might be necessary to get rid of old or existing skirting boards. While this is a fairly straightforward task, it can be daunting if you’ve never done it before.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to remove skirting boards, providing you with a handy step-by-step guide that outlines the very best way to carry out this job.

What Are Skirting Boards?

Before we explore exactly how to remove skirting boards, let’s first explain what they are. 

Skirting boards, or baseboards as they’re sometimes known, can be found at the bottom of most interior walls. They provide a barrier that prevents the plaster from becoming cracked or broken while also covering expansion gaps. As well as this, they protect the base of the wall from becoming damaged or a victim of wear and tear. In some cases, they’ve also been known to offer additional insulation. 

Not only can they conceal imperfections and provide a wall with protection, skirting boards can also enhance the aesthetics of a room giving the overall appearance of the space a boost by adding a decorative element, texture or colour.   

Overall, they’re a versatile and practical addition to interior spaces offering both functional and aesthetic benefits. 

When Do You Need To Remove Skirting Boards?

There are several situations when removing skirting boards might be necessary. These include:

  • Renovation projects – The most common reason why removing skirting boards would be considered is if you’re conducting a new interior design project such as renovating or remodelling a room. Often, it will be necessary to remove the skirting boards in order to gain access to the wall behind them. This will allow you to carry out all kinds of tasks including installing new electrical equipment, rewiring or even making structural changes to a room. 
  • Flooring replacement – If you’re replacing the floor in a room, especially if you’re installing a new type of floor that has a different thickness level to the old one, you might need to remove skirting boards. This is because you need to ensure that the new floor properly fits, unobstructed, against the room’s wall. 
  • Water damage – In the unfortunate event that a room has suffered from a leak and there is water damage to the wall or floor, it’s likely skirting boards will need to be removed to conduct repairs. This will especially be the case if changes need to be made to plumbing outlets or electrical systems that are located behind skirting boards in the wall. 
  • Installing built-in furniture – Sometimes, people will opt to install built-in furniture in a room. This type of furniture offers great aesthetic benefits including helping to create a unique look in every room where it’s located. When adding built-in cabinets, shelving units or other types of furniture that abuts the wall, it might be necessary to remove skirting boards. This is because you will need to make sure the new furniture seamlessly fits into the space. 
  • Repainting or wallpapering – Many interior design projects will involve repainting or wallpapering walls. In these cases, removing skirting boards can often make the job easier and result in a cleaner finish. This is because it allows the decorator to paint or paper right down to the floor, thus creating a cleaner edge. 
  • Updating boards – Sometimes, the motivation behind removing skirting boards will be as simple as just wanting a change. Perhaps you want to embrace a new style or material, or maybe the existing boards have become worn, faded or outdated. Whatever the case, you’ll always need to remove existing boards before installing the new ones.  
  • Accessibility requirements – In some cases, skirting boards might need to be removed in order to accommodate someone with mobility issues. For example, the installation of wheelchair ramps, stairlifts or handrails could all require skirting boards to be taken off the walls.   
  • Pest control – If you suspect that your skirting boards are harbouring a pest infestation, they might need to be taken off the walls in order to tackle the problem.   

It’s worth noting that removing skirting boards can be a delicate process, and if not conducted correctly can result in damage to a wall. While you can hire a professional carpenter or handyman to assist, it can be carried out safely by most competent DIYers. The best way to minimise the risk of damage and carry out the work to a high level is to follow the steps below. 

What You Need To Remove Skirting Boards 

When removing skirting boards, it is important you have the correct tools for the job. Some of the things you will need to remove skirting boards effectively include:

  • A Stanley knife
  • A crowbar
  • A claw hammer 
  • Pliers 
  • A chisel 
  • A block of wood

In some cases, you might have access to a specialist skirting board removal tool. While handy, if you don’t have one then the job can still be carried out with the tools listed above. 

How To Remove Skirting Boards 

Once you have all your tools, you’re ready to start removing skirting boards. Be sure to follow all of the steps below.

Prepare The Area 

The first thing you need to do is prepare the area that you’re going to be working on. Removing skirting boards can be dirty work, with large amounts of dust and wood shavings being produced. With this in mind, remove any objects or personal items that are in the surrounding area to save them from becoming damaged. Furthermore, consider laying down a dust or plastic sheet to protect your flooring from the debris. 

Check For Obstructions 

Before you get stuck in with your tools, be sure to make sure there are no obstructions behind or near the skirting boards. In particular, make check if there are any cables attached to it.

It’s common in many UK homes for people to secure internet cables to skirting boards to keep them neat and tidy. If this is the case for you, make sure to remove the cable prior to carrying out the work. Newer skirting boards may also be hiding wires behind them, so be wary of this when conducting the work. 

Break The Sealant 

Next, grab your Stanley knife and run it along the edge of the skirting board. This should help to break the sealant that is glueing the skirting board to the wall. You should not skip this step as it prevents the wall’s plaster from sustaining any damage. Plus, it will make the process of removing the board much easier later in the process. 

Remove Nails 

At this point, you might also spot nails or screws that have been used to secure the board to the wall. Use your claw hammer to take the nails out. Again, doing this now will make it easier for the board to come away from the wall. 

Loosen The Skirting Board 

Grab your chisel and hammer and gently knock the chisel into the gap between the skirting boards and the wall. This will help it begin to loosen. 

Make your way along the wall, applying the same technique in various places. 

Remove The Skirting Board 

Now it’s time for the main part of the job, actually removing the skirting board from the wall. Once you’re finished loosening it, locate the weakest part of the board. Usually, this can be found in the corners. 

Then, get your crowbar and place the flat bit of it against the wall. Next, use the hammer to knock the crowbar down so that it begins lifting off the wall. 

When the crowbar is fully underneath, use the block of wood to help spread the pressure by putting it behind the crowbar. This will help stop the plaster from being damaged. 

Repeat this process across the entire skirting board until it’s fully off the wall. Do not be tempted just to try and pull it off in its entirety once one section has been removed. Doing this runs the risk of the whole piece of wood breaking and can cause damage to the wall itself. 

Get Rid Of Any Extra Nails Or Screws 

You might now notice additional nails or screws that have been left in the wall. 

These need to be removed and could be simply unscrewed with a screwdriver. Alternatively, pliers or the clawhammer can be used to take them out. If possible it’s important they’re removed, otherwise, they could impact the installation of future skirting boards.

Clean The Area 

Once the work has been carried out, it’s time to clean the area. As mentioned earlier, during the process it’s likely a large amount of dust and debris would have been created. 

Keep an eye out for wood chippings, loose nails and sharp bits of debris as these can cause a particular hazard if left on the ground. 

Attach New Skirting Boards

Now, you’re ready to attach any new skirting boards. 

Position the new board to the wall, and fix it in place using countersunk screws. You can then use a filler to cover the screws, and give the board a lick of paint to suit your style and preferences. 


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