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How to Remove Baseboards without Damage (for Reuse)

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In this post: the quick and easy guide for how to remove old wood or MDF baseboards without damaging the wall or cracking the baseboards so you can reuse them again. 


Removing baseboards can be a messy job – one that often ends with a pile of broken trim that is completely unusable. But what if you want to use them again? Here’s how to remove baseboards without damaging them (or the drywall) so that you can reuse them!

three images showing the removal of baseboard trim with text overlay for Pinterest

When and Why You Would Need to Remove Baseboards

You don’t necessarily need to remove baseboard or other floor trim for all home DIY projects. So, which projects do you need to remove it for and which do you not?

Installing New Floors – Yes, Remove

But if you’re renovating your home and you are installing new carpet or laminate, you will likely want to remove the baseboards first.

Removing baseboards for these projects will prevent the trim from being partially hidden by new laminate and it will make carpet installation much easier. 

You could technically leave baseboards in place and install laminate that butts up against the baseboard. However, that is not the proper way to install laminate and I highly recommend removing baseboards before installing new flooring. 

Painting – No, Not Necessary

While you could remove the baseboards to paint, it’s definitely not necessary.

You can simply cut in with a paintbrush or use painter’s tape to mask off the trim. 

The Easiest Way to Remove Baseboards and Other Trim – Step-by-Step

It’s actually pretty simple and easy to remove old baseboards and trim. The trick is to take your time and not rush.

You also don’t need any special tools to take those baseboards off.

I mean, you could use a trim puller/baseboard removal tool, and I’ve listed a great one below. But, unless you’re going to be removing a LOT of baseboards, you can definitely do this project with common tools most homeowners have on hand. 

Tools you need to remove baseboards

You may also need:

Instructions

1. Using your utility knife with the blade extended about 1/2 an inch or less, carefully cut down into the existing caulking at the top of the baseboard. Start at one end of the piece and continue to the end. Repeat if necessary to “unstick” the caulking from the wall. 

man using a utility knife to cut into caulking on top of baseboard

2. Now, carefully slide your 3″ putty knife down behind the baseboard along the length of the board you are removing and wiggle the tool back and forth. Go slowly to avoid damage to the drywall. This will further detach caulking or any glue used to adhere the trim to the wall. 

a man sliding a putty knife behind baseboards to detach them from the wall

My baseboards have been screwed to the wall, what do I do to remove them?

If they:

  • have been screwed in place, carefully remove visible screws with a screwdriver or drill.
  • have been screwed in place, and you cannot see or access (maybe because of filler) the screw heads you may need to pry them out of the wall along with the baseboard in the next step and then remove them from the freed baseboard by unscrewing them.
  • are too difficult to remove, you may need to cut the threaded portion off the back of the baseboard with a grinder and just leave the head in the baseboard (to be hidden with filler when the baseboards are reinstalled).

4. With the putty knife tucked between the wall and the baseboard, carefully slide the pry bar between the putty knife and the baseboard, as shown. Gently pull down on the pry bar to work the baseboard away from the wall. (The pry bar is doing the work, while the putty knife is spreading the pressure of the pry bar across a larger section of drywall to help prevent damage.) 

a man using a putty knife and pry bar to carefully detach baseboard from the wall

5. Repeat along the length of the trim you’re removing, specifically where there are nails holding the trim in place, until the trim comes completely loose. Take extra care to pry carefully if your baseboards have been adhered to the wall with any type of glue. 

a man using pry bar to remove trim without damage

6. Once it’s removed, if your trim has finishing or brad nails still attached, simply bend them back and forth at their base (nearest the back of the baseboard) with a set of needle nose pliers until they snap off. 

baseboard with nails still intact shown removed from the wall

If you have quarter round or other floor trim, it can be removed the same way, following the steps above. 

How to Remove Glue and Clean up

Of course, now that you’ve removed the baseboards, you’ll need to clean up both the wall and the baseboards themselves.

Tools Needed

Instructions

1. Use the putty knife to carefully and slowly scrape the wall where the caulking was previously located. 

a man using a putty knife to scrape off remaining caulking

2. If any caulking stubbornly remains, use your utility knife to carefully cut it off the wall. It helps to keep the knife as parallel to the wall as possible for this step, so you are not cutting into the drywall. 

a man using a utility knife to cut away remaining caulking

To clean up baseboard for reuse: Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the removed baseboard too!

3. Hammer any nails heads that are sticking out of the drywall until they are flush with the wall. 

a man hammering in random nail heads

4. Sweep up, you’re done removing the baseboards! 

clean baseboard laying on floor beside wall

If your drywall suffered any noticeable damage, now is the time to patch it with drywall compound or wall filler. Follow the instructions on the packaging to do this. 

How to Remove Baseboard Video Tutorial

 

If you want to see more of our videos, be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel so you don’t miss a thing! 

Tips for Replacing Baseboards/How to Install New Baseboards

Now that you’ve cleaned up both the wall and the baseboard you removed, you are ready to install them again.

The best way to install baseboards is to use a brad nailer and nail them in place. Then finish with a run of caulking along the top and in any corners. Finish with filler (for the corners and brad nail holes) and paint. 

Click here to learn how to install baseboards, caulk and paint them. 

image showing how to remove floor trim without damaging the trim or the wall

Have you ever needed to remove your baseboards? How did it go?

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