If you’re looking to do a full renovation in an old property, removing skirting boards is usually one of the first things you look to do. For us, it had to be the first thing because sockets were still on the original skirting which is a) inconvenient and b) does not pass electric regulations today. As electrics are one of the first things being done, closely followed by flooring, the old skirting boards had to be removed immediately.
Depending on the age of the property, the original skirting will vary as to how its attached. These days skirting is attached with adhesive as it is the cleanest and easiest choice as you don’t need to fill in any nail/pin holes and paint. Whereas historically, skirting was attached to the walls with screws, not only can this be harder to remove but if you’re not careful in removing it it can take off sections of wall. Carpenters are usually a first call if you’re looking for skirting board removal and replacing with new ones, but if you or someone you know is physically able and practical it can be done as a DIY job yourself.
Best Tools For Removing Skirting Boards – What You Will Need
- Stanley Knife
- Piece of wood
- Screwdriver (optional)
How Do You Remove Skirting Boards?
Step 1. Prepare The Area & Remove Any Electrical Sockets
The first thing to do is prepare the area before removing them. If there are sockets on the skirting board, always ensure that power is switched off first before removing anything. These will need to be taken off before removing the skirting to avoid any electrical damage. Removing skirting can kick up a lot of dust and debris, so line the floors with dust sheets beforehand.
Step 2. Remove Any Nails & Loosen The Adhesive Seal
You’ll be able to tell as to how the original skirting board was attached, look for any tell tale pin holes that give the indication there are screws in place. Skirting attached with adhesive is generally much easier to remove. Start by running the stanley knife along the top edge of the skirting board to break ant sealant and to clean up existing cork that is there. This is an important first step as it will avoid any damage to the wall when removing the skirting. If you can see that the skirting board is attached with nails, you’ll want to identify these first and unscrew them so the rest of the removal process is much easier. In some cases, this might actually remove the entire skirting board completely without the need for a crowbar or any physical force. However, it does depend how visible the screws are as some can be heavily embedded.
Step 3. Weaken Skirting With A Crowbar And Knock With A Hammer
Removing the skirting board you’ll need the crowbar. Always start in the weakest area of the skirting board which is at the end. Place the flat part of the crowbar against the wall by the weak point, as shown in the photo below. Then use your hammer to knock the crowbar underneath, in doing so you’ll see that the skirting board starts to lift. Once you have a bit of leverage, you can hold the piece of wood behind to help spread the pressure and avoid damage to the wall.
Step 4. Unscrew Any Visible Screws
It can be easy to just start yanking at this stage, but this is what will cause damage to the plaster and wall which we don’t want to happen. When you’re at the point when the skirting is lifting, this is the point to remove any visible screws (if any). Unscrew them if you can or try to pull out with a crowbar. If the screws are ancient this might not be possible, if this is the case knock them with a hammer from left to right until the screw snaps.
5. Repeat The Process Along The Entire Length of Skirting
You’ll need to repeat this process from one end to the other of the skirting board until the entire length of the skirting board can be lifted easily out of place. The only difficulty that can come with removing skirting board is if there is some under a radiator which cannot easily be reached. The best way to approach this is to remove the radiator beforehand. Fitting skirting board behind a radiator is however much easier you’ll be pleased to hear!
6. Clean The Entire Area
Once all skirting is up, make sure to clean the entire area for loose screws or splinters of wood. Depending on the age of the property it’s not unusual to see exposed wood and rubble and debris, just clean the area as best as possible ready for the new skirting board to be laid.
In our case, there was no wonder as to why this skirting had NEVER been changed since Victorian times. All of the skirting had deeply embedded screws AND skirting was fitted BEFORE the doors and staircase which meant the door frames had to be removed at the same time. Very messy work, which has caused damage to some areas but can easily be made good with filler and plaster in the making nice again stage of this renovation. It’s fair to say this has probably that removing skirting boards will be the worst job out of it all, but imagine how nice it will look once finished!
Keep an eye out for the next renovation instalment as I discuss how to fit new skirting boards without the need of a carpenter.