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Removing skirting boards is not a particularly difficult job. Using a crowbar, most people could pull boards off a wall without much problem. However, taking skirting off without causing damage is another story.
To avoid damage to the skirtings themselves, as well as the plaster around them, you need to be using the right tools and the correct technique.
The exact tools and technique you use, may depend slightly on the type of fixings and the type of wall (solid wall, or stud wall).
The tools listed below will be required any time you are removing skirting boards:
- Stanley knife
- A flat crowbar
- 1 off-cut of wood
- An old chisel or screwdriver (not essential).
- A pair of pliers.
Removing skirting boards fixed with pins
As we mentioned previously, the tools you use for removing skirting boards could vary slightly. This is based on how they are fixed, and the type of wall they are fixed too.
The first thing to do, is trying to figure out what type of fixings were used. In most modern properties, this will often be pins. When they were installed, the fitter will usually have added some kind of grab adhesive to the back of the boards. Next, they would fix the boards with a nail gun to get the final fixing.
This could be on any type of surface, even a solid plastered wall. In this case pins will be enough to hold the board in place securely as the adhesive goes off and sets.
The good news with pinned boards, is they are usually very easy to remove.
The first thing you need to do, is cut along the top of the board with a Stanley knife. This is done to break the seal with any decorator’s caulk that was used to seal the top edge, between the board and the wall. It will also stop you from ripping any wallpaper on the walls.
Following this, take your crowbar or a chisel and place it on the joint where the board meets the wall. Next gently hit with your hammer to separate the board from the wall. Do this in a few places to create a small gap behind the skirting.
Once you have a gap, you can slide your crowbar down the back of the board and pull towards you. This will lever the board off the wall. With pinned boards this will usually be enough. To ensure you don’t damage the board, move down from one end to the other, pulling the board off with your crowbar.
If at any point the skirting is stuck and wont move, you can place a small block of wood just above the skirting, behind your crowbar. Then use the wood as a lever and push into the wood. This will cause your crowbar to push from behind the board, forcing it off the wall.
The block of wood has two purposes:
- It gives you leverage to pull the board off more easily
- It protects the plaster above the skirting board.
Once the skirting board is off, you will usually still have pins poking out the back. To remove these, you can used the pliers to pull them through the back of the board. By pulling through the back, you will avoid damaging the front of the boards.
Personally, when levering the board of the wall, I like to use two tools. This puts less strain on the board and makes the job easier. For example, you may use a crowbar and a chisel in combination or even two crowbars.
Each tool would be used in a separate place, and this technique is usually good right at the start to get the board moving.
Removing skirting boards fixed with screws
In some cases Skirting boards will be screwed. In this case you need to determine what type of wall it is fixed too, as this will affect the way you remove the boards.
If the wall is made from solid brick, block, or stone, they will be fixed with plugs and screws. In this case, you will often be able to pull the plugs and screws out of the wall. This means the process is almost identical to boards that are fitted with a nail gun.
However, you may need to rely on your wooden block more, as the fixings could be a little stronger.
The only real difference is removing the screws once the board is off. In most cases you will have to knock the screw through the front of the board, and this can cause damage and it will need patching up if you are re-fitting the floorboards.
Screwed into studwork
If the skirting boards are on a stud wall and they have been screwed, this is probably the most challenging. The reason for this, is you can’t simply lever them off the wall. Instead you will need to unscrew them.
The obvious problem here, is accessing the fixings once the boards are fixed in place. Once this happens, the screw holes are filled and then they are painted over.
Due to this, you will need to identify where the screws are and dig out the filler to unscrew them.
This can be a time-consuming job. Therefore, it’s quite common to just break the board and replace them. It will save time and sometimes it is just the easier option.
In the vast majority of cases, the boards will be nailed. Usually they are only screwed if the wall is solid, and it needs drilling and plugs adding.
This means its not as common to find skirting screwed too stud walls. Although it certainly does happen.
Removing skirting is actually a very easy job. The main issue you will face, if you don’t know what your doing, is causing damage. This could be damage to the boards or the plaster. Either way, using the correct tools for removing skirting boards, and the proper technique, will help you to do a good job.