How To Remove Skirting Boards | Easy Guide

Posted by Skirting World on 18th Jun 2018

How To Remove Skirting Boards | An Easy Guide

So you're looking to remove old skirtings. You might be removing new ones because you don't like the design. Either way, we've written this handy guide to help you remove them quickly and easily.

We'll make this job easy for you by providing information on tools required and keeping your walls safe from harm.

Before You Start

You'll see a list of tools below that you'll need to remove skirting boards. Before you get started, make sure you have these:

Tools
Chisel
Claw Hammer
Crowbar
Stanley Blade
Pliers

What You Need To Remove Old Skirting Boards

We recommend getting your hands on quality tools. It might cost you a little extra, but the benefits justify this. Better tools will make easy work of the job in hand and also last longer than the cheaper alternatives (future DIY projects await you!).

Now you know what you need you can get started so let's go ahead and jump straight in!

Step 1 - Check For Obstructions (Such As Cables)

Because you will be using sharp tools, we advise that you check around the skirtings before proceeding. In the UK, it's commonplace to have cables tacked to the top edge of the skirting. If this is the case with your room, you need to make sure this is removed before attempting to remove the skirting boards.

This will ensure that you avoid damage to the cables and potential harm to yourself.

If the skirting boards that you are removing have been installed more recently, they may be hiding wires. In newer boards, a rebate may be present (a small hollow area on the back of the skirting) which can be used to hide wires.

If the wires aren't visible from the outside, bare this in mind when attempting to pry the skirting away from the wall.

Tip: you don't need to run cables along the top of skirtings anymore! Check out our rebate option for a cable management solution.

Step 2 - Loosening The Skirting Boards

Now you'll need to use the stanley blade. You'll need to take the sharp edge and run it along the top of the skirting where it meets the wall.

Doing this first makes sure that the paint stays on the wall rather than coming away when you pull the skirting.

It also breaks the seal created by decorators caulk between the wall and the board. This is almost always used when decorating to create a clean finish and fill any small gaps that may be present and look unsightly.

If you're not planning on repainting the walls, taking extra care here can save you money and time in the long run.

Next, you'll need to use the hammer and the chisel. Using the hammer, gently knock the chisel in between the wall and the skirting. This helps to loosen it away from the wall.

Simply work your way from one end all the way to the other using this technique.

Step 3 - Prying The Skirtings Away From The Wall

Now that the skirting board is nicely loosened, you can go ahead and start to remove it from the wall.

You'll likely find that the existing skirting will have been nailed, screwed or glued (or a combination of these methods may have been used) to the wall.

You'll need to use your crowbar or chisel for this. When you put the crowbar behind the skirting, use a block of wood between it and the wall to avoid damage to the wall. This helps to spread the pressure over a greater surface area to help prevent damage.

It is also advised to only use the crowbar where the wall studs are situated so that the plaster has less chance of getting damaged.

Gently tapping with a hammer should be enough pressure to get your chosen tool between the top of the skirting and the wall.

Doing this at regular intervals along the wall (approx. 6 inches) will help to loosen the board as much as possible.

When you've managed to get all the nails out of the wall, the board should be easily pulled away.

Now rinse and repeat for the next piece!

Step 4 - Removing Any Nails That Have Been Left Behind

It's possible that once you've removed all the skirting, some of the nails (or pins) may have been left in the walls. If this is the case, you will need your pliers ready to remove them.

Take your pliers and firmly grip the nail you need to pull out. Apply a gentle pulling force.

If you don't manage to get them free with pliers, a claw hammer should make easy work of them. Again, use gentle pressure as to avoid damaging the walls.

If the nail isn't removed easily, we would recommend hammering them flush into the wall. This will prevent damage to the plaster and also enable you to fit the new skirtings perfectly! Take care here as there is always a chance that a pipe or cable may be hidden in the wall.

Step 5 - Clean The Area Before Installation

Once you've finished removing the skirting boards, thoroughly clean the area.

All sorts of hazards can be left behind when carrying out this type of work and cleaning the area can prevent possible accidents.

Be on the look out for pieces of chipped wood, sharp nails and other debris.

Now that you've read our guide, you should be confident enough to go ahead and remove the skirting! With that being said, now we'll answer some common questions in relation to the process.

Why Would You Need To Remove Skirting Boards?

The first and most obvious reason is to replace them.

You may need to replace skirting boards for a number of reasons. By their very nature, they are prone to knocks and scrapes as the main purpose of them is to protect the bottom of the walls.

Because of this, they can quickly start to look tired and worn. If another layer of paint won't suffice, it might be time to rip them off and install new skirtings.

You might be updating the interior of your room and the current style of skirting you have installed just won't fit in. This in itself is another reason for needing to remove them.

Can You Cut Skirting Boards Whilst They're On The Wall?

We often get asked if skirting boards can be cut whilst they're in place. This would be ideal if you only needed to remove a small section of skirting.

Well, it just so happens that this is actually possible!

One method would be to draw a straight line as a reference point where you want to cut the board.

Then you'll need a drill with a small drill bit. Simply drill small holes down the length of the line in close succession. Ensure that you're drilling through to the other side of the skirting.

When you have a line of drilled holes, you can use a chisel to cut along the line and create a break in the board.

Repeating this process further along the length will enable you to remove just the intended section without the need to remove the whole piece.

Tip: check out our blog post about cutting skirting boards for best practises.

Do You Need To Remove Skirting Before Fitting Laminate Flooring?

When laying down laminate flooring, it's not always essential to remove skirting boards. However, it can depend on what type of flooring is currently down and how your house was built.

Most floor fitters recommend leaving the skirting in situe when laying laminate flooring and covering the gap with beading.

Will I Need To Remove Them Before Plastering The Walls?

It is recommended but not always essential.

For the best finish, removing the skirting then plastering will be the best option.

If you're happy with the current skirting and just need to plaster the walls, it is possible to plaster up to the skirting.

Tip: The thicker the top edge on the skirting board, the easier it will be to plaster up to.