Most of us have skirting boards in at least some rooms in our houses. We don’t pay them much attention, except for giving them a once-over with a duster now and again and maybe a new coat of paint every few years.
Every so often, though, it’s necessary to replace old skirting boards. If they’re just too scuffed and dented for fresh paint to do its magic or if you just want to ring the changes, you can easily remove older boards. Wooden boards that have far too many layers of paint on them can be chemically stripped and put back in place, but you might prefer to update them altogether with some more modern examples from Skirtings R Us.
It’s surprisingly easy to remove your old skirting boards
You simply need some basic tools and a bit of prep work. Most people find it takes longer to clear the furniture away than it does to pull the skirting boards away.
In most cases, you can gently lever the boards away from the wall without damaging the plaster. Do find out, however, if the boards are nailed or screwed into the wall first, as you’ll need to remove the nails or screws first so you don’t rip out chunks of plaster as well.
If you’ve painted over the boards and onto the wall, use an art knife to cut or scrape through this layer so you don’t pull away strips of paint from the wall.
Then you can start levering away the boards. Start at a far corner, preferably at the junction between the skirting board and the architrave of the doorframe.
Get tooled up!
You need a club hammer, a crowbar and a thin piece of soft wood, preferably pine or balsa. This sliver of wood goes behind the crowbar’s blade to cushion the wall. Work the blade in between the board and the softwood and apply gentle pressure to lever the board away from the wall. Don’t go full-pelt as you may not need much force, but if there are any sticky or stubborn bits, you can use your hammer to gently tap the handle of the crowbar. Take your time and don’t give in to the temptation to rip the boards away!
Dealing with nails and screws
If you find that your boards are fixed with nails or screws then you might also see that they’ve been covered over with filler. You can sometimes scrape out the filler and unscrew the boards. If you can’t, you should use a saw to remove the head of the screw.
Nails are smoother and easier, but try not to pull them out at odd angles as this can damage the wood.
Discovering the wall behind
The plaster doesn’t usually go right down to the floor so there’ll probably be a bare wall suddenly revealed. If you’re planning to replace the old boards with ones of less height, you’ll need to re-plaster. It’s easier to use boards of the same height for this reason.