How To Remove Skirting Boards: A DIY Guide For Easy Removal

Crowbar easing skirting board away from wall
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to remove skirting boards will be the question you will be asking yourself when the time comes to replace them. The very nature of skirting boards means that they can take a bit of a beating over the years. They can lose their appeal with chips and dents finally making you decide it's time for change.

Painting skirting boards may rescue and refresh them for a while but you might be finding it difficult to restore them back to their best. On the flip side you might have decided that you don't like the style of the boards and want to update them with a more contemporary design. Or reintroduce skirting boards that fit in the period styling of your home. 

Alternatively, you could be replastering walls, and removing skirting rather than plastering up it could provide a more professional finish.

Whatever the reason, you need to remove the skirting boards without causing as little damage to the walls and in some cases the skirting boards themselves. Here we give you the lowdown on the tools and techniques you’ll need. 

How To Remove Skirting Boards: A Step-By-Step Guide 

Removing skirting boards isn't difficult, but it does need patience and a few tools to complete the job, including:

  • Claw hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Pliers
  • Stanley knife
  • Wood offcuts

1. Prepare skirting for removal

If you have any cables attached to the skirting board remove the cable clips with a pair of pliers. Grips the nail in the clip and pull; if difficult to remove gently twist and pull.

If decorators' caulk has been used to fill any gaps, get a Stanley knife and carefully run the blade between the skirting and the wall to cut through the caulk. 

2. Remove the skirting board

Start near a join – typically this will be a corner – and put the sharp end of a crowbar, like the Roughneck Gorilla Bar, between the skirting and wall and tap with a hammer to get underneath the skirting. 

Once a gap starts to appear, get a piece of wood – around the same thickness as the skirting board and at least six inches long – and place behind the crowbar as you ease out the skirting board. This helps spread the load and protect the plaster behind. Use this method along the whole length of the skirting board at gaps of around 12 inches. 

3. Tidy up

Skirting boards are typically nailed into the wall and after removal you may be left with nails sticking out of the wall. Use a claw hammer to ease out the nails — again put wood behind the hammer to help protect the plaster. Alternatively, if this is proving difficult bang the nails into the wall. Use a nail punch so the nails flush with the skirting board. 

Is it Worth Replacing Skirting Boards? 

This depends very much on the condition and style of the present skirting boards. If they are in poor condition it might be a simple matter of painting the skirting boards to restore them back to their prime. 

But if the skirting boards have been damaged and need a lot of repair – which can be time-consuming – then it's best to replace them. However, if they are an original feature in an old house they might be hard to replace so you will need to put in the time and effort to fix.

Style is subjective and if you don't like the current skirting boards you can take a look at skirting board ideas to fit in with the aesthetic you are trying to create. This might include more ornate skirting with an intricate style, or perhaps something a little more contemporary. 

These need to be cut and fitted properly to get a matching hard to spot fit. Learn how to scribe skirting boards to get the perfect internal join.  

How Can I Remove Skirting Board Nails? 

Once you have removed the skirting board you can often be left with nails sticking out of them. If you want to keep the skirting boards you will need to remove the nails. There are a few options here. You can use a standard pair of pliers and grip, twist and pull.

If this doesn’t work get a pair of tongue and groove pliers and bend the nail 90 degrees about half way down. Then grip the nail at the bend with the back of the head of the pliers against the skirting board. Now push gently and this should ease the nail out. 

For really stubborn nails use an angle grinder or multi-tool to cut the nail tight against the skirting.

However, if you are looking to replace the skirting boards the common choices are MDF or pine skirting boards. Both come in a range of styles and sizes so you can replace like for like in most cases.  

How Do You Remove Skirting Boards Behind Radiators? 

Assuming that the skirting boards have been nailed into the wall there are a few options that will get the job, but you will need some extra tools.

One option to try is a nail punch if you know where the nails are. With a hammer you can simple knock these through the skirting board so they are loose and can be pulled from behind the radiator.

If you have a hole saw you can simply cut the wood around the nail, again if you have located the nails in the board. You can then use a screwdriver and pliers to pull out. Another option is to use a multi tool with a small saw blade and cut through the skirting board both sides of the radiator pipes. Then you can gently prise away the skirting with a crowbar. 

Alternatively, you can wait until it's time to replace a radiator and replace the skirting board at the same time. Or, remove the radiator for easy access to remove the skirting board the standard way.    

Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.