Refreshing your Baseboards without Damage

The most common reason for needing to remove the baseboards in your home is when changing your flooring. Baseboards are the (usually) wooden finishings that go around each room between the wall and the floor. 

Baseboards are a nice touch in any home as they will hide the edged of carpets and some of the joins in laminate flooring. If you regularly change carpets or floors, you may already know that removing and replacing baseboards is not a difficult job once you know how to do it well. 

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For those of you who have not done this in the past, we have created an easy-to-follow guide for your convenience. 

Have the Right Tools

Before starting any home improvement project, you should ensure that you have the tools you are going to need. Removing baseboards is no different. You need to ensure you have; a hammer, both a putty and a utility knife. You may also need a small pry bar and pliers in case any of the baseboards are difficult to remove. 

Prepare the Work Area

Before beginning to remove the baseboards, you should inspect each board for sealant or adhesive. If sealant or adhesive has been used, this is easy to rectify by cutting through it with the utility knife. However, if you do not cut through this and try to pry the baseboards from the wall, you could damage both the wall and the boards. 

You should then cut each corner to ensure that the strips of wood are easy to separate. This is only required if the corners are coped and overlap. If they are coped, the piece of wood which overlaps on top is the piece that should be removed first. 

Begin to Remove the Baseboards

The next step is to begin to loosen the board from the wall. The easiest way to do this is to slide the putty knife between the wall and the baseboard. You should always ensure you do this next to a nail as if there is no nail for leverage, you could damage the baseboard noticeably and beyond repair. 

Once the boards have been loosened and you can fit a pry bar or other implement between the board and wall, you can begin to pry the baseboard from the wall. This should always be done slowly, and you should work from one end of the baseboard to the other. You should ensure that the pry bar is pushed down to the middle of the baseboard to avoid damaging the top edge. 

You can also use the putty knife behind the bar to protect your wall. The putty knife in this position helps you to avoid using the wall directly for the leverage to get the boards removed. 

Now that the baseboards are removed from the wall, you should get rid of any nails still attached to the baseboards. The correct way to do this is to remove them from the back with pliers. Do not try to push them back through the front of the baseboard, as this will chip and damage the baseboard. 

Replacing the Baseboards

After the work you need to do has been completed and you are ready to put the baseboards back in place, follow these steps.

Prime the Baseboards

This could be with varnish or paint. It is worthwhile doing this even if you are not changing the color of the baseboards. It may not be very often that you are in a position to repaint the baseboards without worrying about the floor or wall while you paint. 

Using a nail gun, you should then nail the baseboards back in place. If your baseboards are coped, this should be the reverse of removal, with the bottom piece of each interlocking corner being installed first. 

Finishing the Replacement

After the nails have been put into the baseboards, you will need to sink them lower than the level of the baseboard. This is done for two reasons; firstly, it looks better as you will often be able to disguise the nails (more about that below). Secondly, sinking the nails in the baseboards will help to avoid accidents and injuries. This is especially important if you have small children or indoor pets, as if the nail is further out than the level of the baseboard, it is easy for little fingers or curious pets to run past a nail and hurt themselves. 

Sinking the nails can be easily completed using a nail set. If you are unsure of what this is, you can search for this online for practical demonstrations. 

With the baseboards now back in place, it is time to disguise the nails. You can do this simply by filling in the nail holes with putty and painting over them. This method can also be used for any damages to the wood. The touch-ups will be extremely difficult to notice if you have just painted the full baseboard as it will blend in. However, if you have not, then these paint touch-ups will be noticeable.

Summary

Repainted and reinstalled baseboards will be the final touch to offset your new flooring and will give a professional finish to any DIY flooring project. The process itself is not a difficult one, but it requires patience. When removing and reinstalling the baseboards, rushing can cause unnecessary damage to the wood, meaning increased expense to buy more wood for new baseboards. 

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