How To Remove Baseboards in 4 Simple and Easy Steps

Take the mystery out of taking off baseboards

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated June 20, 2022
neutral living room entry way
Photo: Gerald Carter / Creative Flame / Adobe Stock


You've got this!

Time to complete

1 hour

1 hour per room



Roll up your sleeves.

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What you'll need:


  • Utility knife
  • 2-inch putty knife
  • 6-inch putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Nipping pliers (optional)
  • Baseboard puller tool (optional)

Baseboard trim hides the rough edges where the wall meets the floor while providing an attractive design element. But sometimes it needs to come off when you are performing a remodel or renovation—trim repair or painting, floor repair or refinishing, and reflooring are examples of times you may need to remove the baseboards. 

If you’re planning to reuse the trim pieces, removing them without damaging them, the walls, or the floors is essential. A few basic tools, elbow grease, and patience are all you need to get the job done efficiently. 

4 Simple Steps To Remove Baseboards

  1. Score the Edges

    You’ll only need this first step for painted baseboards. It’s likely that paint, caulk, or both conceal the edge between the trim and the wall. 

    1. Start at a corner and score the trim’s top edge to cut through the paint and caulk. 

    2. It’s also helpful to trim the paint at corner junctions with heavy paint buildup. 

  2. Loosen the Baseboards

    If your baseboard trim includes a base shoe or quarter round, separate the additional trim piece from the main part first, using the same procedure. 

    1. Starting a few inches from a corner, slide the 2-inch putty knife between the trim and the wall. You can gently use your hammer to help by tapping the top of the knife’s handle. Insert the blade as deeply as possible.

    2. Gently pull the putty knife forward until you create a small gap between the trim and the wall. 

    3. Remove the knife, move about one foot down the baseboard’s length and repeat.

    4. Continue creating a small gap on all of the trim you plan to remove.

  3. Pry Baseboards Off

    professional removing baseboard from wall
    Photo: Ruslan Ivantsov / Adobe Stock

    Take your time with this step to avoid accidentally marring the wall paint or floor finish. 

    1. Near a corner, insert the 6-inch putty knife behind the trim.

    2. Insert the pry bar in front of the knife and behind the baseboard. You may need to tap the pry bar with a hammer. 

    3. Lever the pry bar gently until you create about an inch-wide gap between the wall and trim. 

    4. If you have one, you can replace the putty knife and pry bar with a baseboard puller or trim puller tool. 

    5. Continue this process down the length of the trim board.

    6. Return to the starting corner and repeat these steps until the trim is free from the wall. 

    7. Move to the next trim piece and repeat until the room is complete.

  4. Remove Nails

    Before reinstalling the trim, it’s easiest to remove all the old nails. You may need to use a combination of techniques to remove all of them. 

    1. Support the baseboard on a block of wood, sawhorse, or workbench. 

    2. Remove any nails that are exposed and raised on the front of the trim with a claw hammer, being careful not to mar the workpiece. 

    3. Grasp nails with pliers or nipper pliers on the back of the trim piece. Using the tool as a lever, pull the nail through the board. Avoid trying to remove it from the board’s front side. 

    4. Use nipper pliers to simply chop off thin nails at the trim’s back surface. 

Removing Baseboards Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro

Although there isn’t a material cost for removing baseboard trim, some tools are necessary to complete the work. A time commitment and crawling around the room on your knees are also required. So, it’s understandable if it’s a job you’d instead have taken care of by a professional. 

Your local painting contractor or floor refinisher will include baseboard removal in their price quote if they need to remove them to complete their work. A local carpenter will charge $200 to $250 to pull a houseful of baseboards. A baseboard trim carpenter near you can install baseboards when it’s time to put them back. 

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