Author: SearchMyLocal | Last Updated: 12 Mar 2022
No matter how big or small your renovation project is, there are always a few key steps that need to be completed before you can start construction. One of those first steps is removing skirting boards in the room or property to be renovated. Removing skirting boards can be daunting for some people, especially those who are unfamiliar with what they are or are undertaking a DIY renovation for the first time. The good news is, removing skirting boards can be done quickly and easily by yourself.
Skirting boards are the lengths of wood that run across the bottom of the wall and sit right on top of the floor at the very edges of the room, effectively forming a border between the wall and the floor. Skirting boards can be decorative, featuring intricate mouldings or adding an unexpected design. Many people also use skirting boards to hide an uneven wall or floor edges, giving the room a more polished look. These days, skirting boards are more straightforward and simply protect the wall from knocks or damage.
It will be helpful to know what the material of your skirting board is for easier removal—it can also help you narrow your choices for your next skirting board installation.
Natural hardwood timber is exactly what it sounds like, real hardwood timber planks that have been treated and fitted for your home. Hardwood timber is an excellent option because it is extremely durable, hard-wearing, and when treated well, it fares better against moisture than MDF or FJ Pine. The downside about timber skirting boards is that they can be difficult to source and their removal is a little more complicated owing to the way they are attached to the wall.
MDF is a more affordable option for skirting boards. Unlike natural hardwood timber, MDF is a man-made material made from things such as softwood fibres, sawdust, resin, and then compressed together into sheets. Because MDF is manufactured, it’s much easier to source compared to timber. However, MDF is not water-resistant, and will easily absorb and swell with prolonged contact to moisture or steam.
FJ Pine is the best “middle ground” between MDF and natural hardwood timber. It is made out of natural timber pieces that are glued together at “finger joints” that zigzag across the length of the wood. Because it’s made of natural wood, FJ Pine will last much longer than MDF and is less likely to warp. Another advantage is, like hardwood timber, any scratches or dents can be easily sanded out so your skirting boards can continue to look their best.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what the most popular skirting board materials are, we’ll walk you through the removal process.
Your removal tools will depend on the material of your skirting board, so it’s important to determine what kind of material your skirting boards are made of. If they are made from MDF, they will be much easier to remove than if they are made from timber. For MDF skirting boards, a small crowbar or even a sturdy screwdriver should be enough to pry them from the well. If working with timber skirting boards, you might need a chisel and hammer to get the job done. You should also have a Stanley knife and pliers with you for the removal.
After you’ve prepared your tools and you’re ready to get to work, first prep the area you’ll be working on to minimise the possibility of accidents and damage. Remove any cables, wires, or attachments that are connected to the skirting boards. Next, move objects leaning against the wall and board. It is also a good idea to lay down a plastic sheet, newspapers, or some old fabric to make clean-up a little easier after the removal.
Use your Stanley knife to break the seal that runs across the top edge of the skirting board. This is usually an adhesive that sticks the board to the wall and also serves as a sealant against water or moisture. This is an important step; by breaking this seal and removing the adhesive, you stand a better chance of a clean removal and minimising damage to the wall itself. Suppose you find that your skirting board has a lot of nails attaching it to the wall. In that case, you may also want to use this step to remove as many of them as possible by using a drill and claw hammer—this is a very time-consuming step, and it is only recommended if you can see or feel a lot of nails along the board.
We recommend starting at a corner joint, which is usually the weakest spot for skirting boards. Insert your screwdriver, chisel, or crowbar into the gap between the skirting board and the wall. Use a bit of force to hammer your tool into the space, creating a gap. You can also insert a small piece of wood into this space to keep it open. Work across the length of the board in multiple spots, doing the same process. This helps spread the pressure and ensures you don’t over-stress one part of the wall, which can lead to cracks or damage. Keep working on the board until you can carefully pry it off with your hands.
Ideally, any screws or nails used to attach your skirting board to the wall would’ve come away with the skirting board when you removed it. If you find still find some, you can remove them with your screwdriver, or pull them out with a pair of pliers. If you have a hard time with removing nails, you can also opt to just hammer them straight into the wall, ensuring that they become completely flush and don’t jut out so that it doesn’t jeopardise your next skirting board installation.
You’ve successfully removed your skirting board! After the removal, ensure that you clean up the space and pick up any nails, screwed, or material chips that have been left behind. Dispose of your skirting board properly and waste properly.