How To Remove Skirting Boards

Removing skirting boards is not the nicest of tasks and although it is relatively easy there are a few things to be aware of before you start. 

The main objective when taking down existing skirting is to cause no damage to the existing plasterwork on the wall. If you are keeping your existing flooring in place then you will of course want to cause no damage to the floor either. 


Why Remove Skirting Boards? 

There are a number of reasons why you might want to remove your skirting boards. Skirting boards by their very nature are designed to take a fair bit of wear and tear; even so, they may have become tired or worn over time and be in need of replacement. 

It may well be the case that you are redecorating and feel that the skirting boards also need replacing. Another common reason for replacing skirting is to update the style.

Skirting boards are often viewed as being the finishing touch to a decorating project and this is the optimal time to undertake the removal task.


How To Remove Skirting – Step By Step

Like most jobs, there are a number of ways to accomplish the removal of skirting. In this case there are a few methods you could follow. The following is our preferred method of removing skirting boards.


Step 1: Check your tools

Ensuring you have the right tools to remove skirting board is vital. You will need: 

  • Claw hammer
  • Stanley knife
  • Crowbar
  • Chisel
  • Pliers
  • Spare piece of wood


Step 2: Check for and remove obstructions

It is quite common for cables to run along the top of old skirting boards and quite often these are tacked on. Speaker cables and telephone cables are commonly found.

If these are still connected then take extra care but either way you will need to remove these wires and cables carefully before undertaking the next part of the task. Take extra care with wires that may have electricity running through them.

If the skirting is more modern then there could be cables hidden within a rebate of the existing board. If you suspect this is the case then consider this in step 3 and be careful when prying away the existing board. 


Step 3: Loosen the Caulking or Sealant

The top of the skirting will usually have been finished with a sealant or decorators caulking. Take your Stanley knife and carefully run it along the seal between the skirting and the wall.

If you are not repainting or redecorating the walls then take extra care not to damage the existing decor. Try to get as close to the top of the sealant as possible so you do not pull any paint or paper off the walls when you pull the sealant away.


Step 4: Pry the skirting gently away

You now need to loosen the skirting away from the wall. The existing skirting will most likely have either been glued or pinned/nailed to the wall.

To begin with, take your chisel and carefully knock the chisel in between the wall and top of the skirting with a couple of gentle taps of your hammer. Continue this action at 6-10 inch intervals all the way along the skirting board until it is slightly loosened from the wall at the top.

To fully remove the skirting board from the wall you will need to use the crowbar. In some cases the chisel and hammer may be enough but if not the crowbar is far more effective for this stage. 

A top tip to avoid damaging the wall behind the skirting is to place a thin block of wood between the crowbar and the wall when you are prising the skirting away from the wall. The wooden block will take most of the pressure from the crowbar meaning you can use as much force as is required without damaging the wall behind. 

You can now use this technique all the way along the skirting to remove all the remaining nails or glue and remove the board completely.  


Step 5: Remove remaining nails or pins 

There is a good chance that there could be some nails or pins remaining in the wall. If this is the case then use your pliers to remove them. If you need to add more force or wish to use your claw hammer to remove them then place your wooden block against the wall to again prevent damage to the plaster.

If the nails are stubborn and won’t be pulled out then the best option is to hammer them in so they are as flush to the wall as possible – just be aware of any pipes that might be hidden inside of the wall.

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