How to Remove Baseboards Without Damage {the Easy Way}

May 25, 2016

How to remove baseboards without damaging your floors or walls!

If you're installing new flooring or just upgrading your baseboards, these are helpful tips to remove baseboards the easy way so you don't damage your walls or floors. 

When we knocked down a wall in our old family room years ago, I lost my office. I still wanted to have a central location for all things work, crafts and wrapping. Our upstairs loft was the perfect space for all of those, plus some!

My hope was for it to be a bright work space for me, a great spot for our boy to work on projects or homework, a craft area, wrapping station and even some Lego building. :)

Here's how this room looked before the changes started: 
Craft room decor

This room was the brightest in our home!

Later I added a gallery wall and took down the sconces by the windows:
toy room chalkboard

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It was a cute space but I never felt like I was using all of the room well. I had a plan in place for years but had to hold off until we could get new floors put down.

We added finished on site hardwoods throughout our first house and this was the last room we had them installed. 

But before they could get started I had to do a few things. I started by emptying out the room --  nearly everything was given away or sold. We really didn't have much furniture in here anyway but I kept very little because so much was going to be built in. 

Next up I pulled out all of the baseboards. In the past when we've had the floors put in I've left them, but I always regret not removing them first. 

They aren't tall to begin with:
short white baseboards

They are puny and even more so when the flooring goes in. It's taller than the carpet and they look even smaller when the floors are done. Plus trying to remove these after the flooring is installed is a total pain in the butt. 

Because our builder didn't skimp on the nails, they are hard to take off anyway but with the flooring in it's nearly impossible to do without damaging the hardwoods. 

I finally figured out the best way to take baseboards off the walls with minimal damage and frustration, so I'm sharing this quick tutorial. Removing baseboards isn't hard, it just requires the right tools and technique!

Step 1:  Use a razor to score your caulk along the top of the baseboards. 

If you have a TON of caulk build up, it may be worthwhile to spray a caulk remover first. It softens it enough that you can easily get a razor blade into it. 

Grab a utility knife to start cutting into the caulk at the top edge of the baseboard: 
scoring caulk baseboards

I don't cut the entire length of the baseboard just yet -- I'll share why in a moment. 

Make sure to score along the top and also along spots where the base meets up with door frames or other molding. No need to go super deep -- as long as you are able to score it a bit, that should work fine. 

Step 2:  Grab a flat edge or pry bar and hammer 

I like using something flat to start if possible -- a metal putty knife or these nine-in-one tools are perfect for starting to pull the base away from the wall. 

If you don't have one of those, a crow bar will work as well. I find tapping a flat blade behind the base is a great way to start, and the pry bar will be useful as you continue to remove the baseboards. 

Start tapping your bar between the wall and the drywall:
removing baseboards carpet

Sometimes it takes a tap, sometimes a pound. :) So you see how I missed some of the caulk there? That's why I don't try to work all the way down the wall, because as you start to pull the base away from the wall just the slightest bit, it will make it much easier to score and cut that clean through. 

Don't pull too much because you'll start pulling the drywall away from the wall. Although if you're replacing the base with something taller then that won't matter much. 

Rock the baseboards away from the wall just a bit, but not enough to cause damage to the drywall. 

If you are concerned about damage to the wall, place a scrap piece of wood behind your crowbar on the wall. 

Move down the wall a little bit, but not too far just yet:
crow bar baseboards

Step 3:  Pry the base away from the bottom as well. 

Now this the magical step that I didn't do for years and that's why it was so dang hard to get these out. 

Doing this will help tremendously if you have baseboards that are hard to remove like ours. Take the crow bar and leverage it underneath the base:
removing baseboards

Lift up -- it may take some muscle. Be careful here and make sure your crowbar is well under the base so it doesn't come loose and flying back at you -- you'll have to push down pretty hard. 

Again, if you have anything other than carpet, you'll want to place a scrap piece of wood under your bar to prevent damage. 

This is an important step because it releases all the nails from the bottom that are too hard to get to from the top: 
remove baseboards pry bar

I find most of the nails are down low and it's hard to get down there without messing up the walls. Once I figured out how to do it this way the process became MUCH much easier. 
This method works every time without causing drywall damage!

Step 4:  Clean up your baseboards and walls

To ensure your new base lays flat against the wall, you'll need to take your utility knife and score right along the caulk still on the wall. Once scored it will easily peel off the drywall. 

You'll want to remove any remaining nails from your old base whether you plan to use it again or not. It's generally not a good idea to leave them for safety reasons. 

Use a pair of pliers to wrench the old finishing nails out of the base:
removing nails with pliers

You can reuse the base if needed, just fill those old holes when they are reinstalled. 

I got the whole room done in just over an hour -- this isn't even all of it: 
tall board and batten wall

This room continues over near the closet book nook so there was a ton to remove! This way of taking it off the wall works so well I whipped through it. 

As you can see I also remove the board and batten from the accent wall -- that will get a new treatment. I removed the nails from the boards to keep them for the new door trim that will go in soon. I also took down the gallery wall and filled the holes. 

See those square on the wall? Those right there are why I now tell you to NEVER use glue to put molding up on the walls:
Wainscoting on walls

Unless you are sure you want it there for eternity, don't do it. Nails are enough. I haven't decided if I'm continuing the wall treatment around to that half wall, but they come down I'll be covering the damage anyway.

This is that same view as it looked earlier this week:
DIY craft table with bins

The DIY craft table is disassembled and I plan to use that butcher block top on the built ins. The little table set it staying. :) 

Here are some additional projects from this space you may enjoy...

shade on ceiling fan

Making baseboards taller without removing the old ones:  
jacobean hardwoods white base

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  1. Cynthia Sue (Cyndi)May 25, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    What an ambitious project! I'm really looking forward to following along. And regarding gluing on the molding, I saw a blog post elsewhere where they glued on the baseboard. Yes, really!

  2. Wow, you have such a spacious loft area! Excited to follow the makeover, especially when all the architectural elements (built-ins) start going in.

  3. You go girl! Can't wait to follow this project to the end! :-)

  4. Your blog is at the top of my favorites list and I can't wait to see the results of all your work in the loft. I also love that your cats photobomb most of your photos and that you leave them in when you post. I'm a cat lady also.

  5. Good luck with your loft! I am sure it is going to look amazing very soon. Such a great project to take up as well over Summer. If you need any free prints for your project please feel free to get in touch!


  6. Looking good!! Can't wait to see what the final reveal will look like, good luck you can do it!!

    Lauren | Lovely Decor


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