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Removing Baseboards: Tips and Tricks

Removing baseboards is a simple task that sometimes ends with frustration and broken baseboard trim, but there’s a much easier way. This quick and easy guide will teach you the best way to remove baseboards without damaging them or the drywall.

For most homeowners, replacing the baseboard trim isn’t something that’s done too often, so they become an afterthought. A few paint jobs later, these baseboards become caulked to the walls and can be stubborn to remove.

This is especially a problem when it comes time to replace flooring or update the baseboards for a cleaner look. Many DIYers try to save these pieces in hopes of reusing them in another project, but through the frustration of removing them, and the layers of paint and caulking, the baseboards are broken during the demo process.

But, there’s a better way to take off baseboards! With a little patience and the right tools, it’s totally possible to remove your baseboards in one piece without damaging the drywall.

Man taking off off baseboard with a hammer using leverage with text overlay that says removing baseboards: tips & tricks

How to remove baseboards

If you are simply painting the baseboards, they don’t need to be removed before every paint job. Whether you are taping the room off with painter’s tape or cutting in properly with a paintbrush, there should be no issue between the trim and the paint. 

However, baseboards should be replaced every time new flooring is installed. Otherwise, the baseboards become “buried” into the flooring, which makes it hard to remove without damaging the floors.

As mentioned before, this is a simple task, but patience is key. Rushing through these steps can cause unnecessary damage to the walls, floors, or existing paint and wallpaper.

This removing baseboards article contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

Supplies needed for removing baseboards

  • Scrap block of wood
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer 
  • Pry bar
  • Safety glasses

Step 1. Remove the caulk

Using a utility knife, score the caulk from along the top seam where the baseboard meets the drywall. If you skip this step, you risk tearing the drywall as you remove the board.

using a utility knife to cut caulk between a baseboard and wall

Make sure to cut along the complete length of the baseboard parallel with the wall so the board will easily detach from the wall in the next steps.

Then, using a putty knife, slide the knife the length of the wall between the wall and the baseboard to loosen any remaining caulk or glue that has been used to affix the baseboard to the wall. 

Step 2. Take off baseboards with prybar and/or hammer using leverage

To remove the baseboard, start at the one end of the wall, and slide the pry bar and the pronged end of the hammer between the wall and the baseboard. 

pronged end of a hammer and pry bar between the baseboard and wall

Then, wiggle the pry bar back and forth to help wedge the baseboard away from the wall, using leverage.

If the baseboard is especially difficult to remove, slide a block of scrap wood between the baseboard and the wall to create a fulcrum as you loosen the boards.

Continue working your way down each wall until the entire piece of baseboard has loosened. Pay close attention to any screws or finishing nails you may run into during this process.

Tip: If your floors were installed “in front” of the baseboards, you may need to pry the baseboards up slightly to get the boards free to avoid damaging the floors. To do this, screw a bolt into the baseboard – about one inch from the floor – until the baseboard furrows around the bolt. Then, use the groove of the pry bar to pull the bolt and baseboard up and out together.

Step 3. Clean up the wall

Using a razor blade or putty knife, run the knife parallel to the wall to remove paint ridges or caulking that may be remaining.

cutting away old paint from the wall with a razor blade

If there is a lot of excess remaining, use a utility knife to carefully trim away any leftovers.

Step 4. Remove leftover nails or screws

bottom of wall and carpet where baseboard use to be

Hammer in any nails that are sticking out of the drywall from when you removed the baseboards.

Also, remove any finishing nails that are still attached to the baseboards. You can use needle-nose pliers to remove them or bend them back and forth until they come out. 

Whether you are reusing the trim or throwing it away, be sure to remove the sharp nails and screws to avoid injury to anyone who may handle the boards.

Tip: If you are planning on reusing the trim, be sure to label it as you remove it so you can piece it back together later!

Now, you are ready to prep the room for your next project.

Removing baseboards doesn’t have to be a frustrating task in your renovation! Using our simple method described here for the best way to remove baseboards, you can take them off in one piece in minutes!

Have you ever removed baseboard trim before?

Let us know in the comments below!

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