How to Remove Old Skirting Boards

At some point in the life of a house or flat, it’ll need some new skirtings. After possibly decades of hardly any attention at all, other than a half-hearted coat of paint and a damp cloth every so often, old skirting boards have to be ripped out and replaced.

The good news is that there’s much more in the way of choice for skirtings now, so you can actually install some boards that you can be bothered with! Or, you may be fed up with looking at several layers of paint and decide to get your boards stripped and put them back.

Whatever your plans are, you need to know how to remove them without damaging the wall behind them or the boards themselves.

It’s easy-peasy

It’s very easy to remove skirting boards from the wall, as long as you take the time to prepare, go gently and have all the right tools.

Generally, boards can be levered carefully away from the wall without taking any plaster with them. Every now and then you might find a board that’s been nailed or even screwed into the wall, so you’ll have to take pains to unscrew it, especially if you’re putting it back after it’s been divested of its paint. If you’re replacing it altogether, you still need to be careful as you could take out chunks of plaster if you’re a bit too crowbar-happy.

Be prepared

If you find that the very top edge of the skirting board has paint over it, use a wallpaper scraper or a sharp, thin blade to cut through it, otherwise you might find you peel off small strips, which isn’t a good look. Once you’re good to go, you should start levering the board at either an outside corner or at the junction between the board and the doorframe.

The nuts and bolts

Or rather, the club hammer, crowbar and the thin sliver of wood. You’ll need the slice of wood, that you can find on Cut My Plastic, to place between the wall and the blade of the crowbar to prevent damage to the wall. Put the thin end of the crowbar between the board and the sliver of wood and very carefully start levering the board away from the wall. If you come across any hard-to-remove areas, use the hammer to gently tap the crowbar. It’s tempting to go full-Hulk and just rip the whole thing off, but you’ll only regret it…

If you find and pesky nails or screws…

It’s possible that some or all of the boards have been fixed with nails or screws. It’s also possible that the heads have been concealed by filler. This is a bit of a pain, but if you’re planning to conserve the board, you’ll need to scrape out the filler and unscrew board from the wall. Nails are easier, as they just ping out, but again, if you’re putting the board back, you need to take care so the head doesn’t get dragged through the wood, potentially splitting it.

The most important thing to remember is to take your time and don’t force anything! 

We will have to remove some old skirting boards soon in our house as part of our ongoing renovations- do you have any tips too for removing them?

I’d love to hear!


Have a look at some of my other interiors posts.


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