We’re used to baseboards filling the area between the floor and the wall to disguise little gaps that occur during decorative projects. When you want to change the floor, however, you’ll need to remove the baseboards completely. Unless you want to replace them with a new design, you can actually re-use the old baseboards. Even if you choose to use a different style, you can still recycle the baseboards in other ways.
Step 1 - Removing the Baseboard
The first thing you need to do is break the seal between the wall paint and baseboard. Do this by pushing down with a putty knife between the wall and the top of the baseboard. Do this on all the walls where you’ll be removing the existing baseboard.
Insert the pry bar between the wall and the top of the baseboard and pull very gently. You will do best to start in the middle of a wall. When you’ve established a small gap, insert a shim into place and move on a few inches. Repeat until you have shims along the full length of one wall.
Go back to the middle, remove the first shim and pull gently, working slowly along the wall until you’ve removed the entire baseboard. With some gentle care, you’ll be able to take the baseboard off in one piece. Repeat for all other walls.
Step 2 - Removing the Nails
The baseboards will still be full of nails that need to be removed. Supporting the baseboard, tap the point of each nail until the nail head shows through on the other side. Next, grab the nail head with the pliers and slowly pull it out, being careful not to split the baseboard. Discard the nail into a bag or jar. Repeat for all the lengths of baseboard until all of the nails have been removed.
Step 3- Re-using Baseboard
If you’ve been able to remove your old baseboard intact, you’ll be able to re-use it after fitting a new floor or carpet. If you’re going to paint your baseboard, do it before re-using. Fit the baseboard back into place, ensuring the mitered corners are tightly positioned, and push against the wall. Locate the holes on the baseboard where the old finish nails had gone through and hammer your new nails through them for easier fitting and optimum cosmetic value. Repeat for all the baseboards in the room.
Step 4 - Recycling Baseboard
If you’re not going to re-use the baseboard in its original place, you can still recycle it in other ways within your house. Depending on the style of baseboard, you have several options available.
Old baseboards can make excellent heap crown moldings between the wall and the ceiling, covering any gaps that might have occurred over an extended period of time. Make sure the baseboard is the correct size for the wall, mitering the corner if necessary. Holding in place, use a nail to attach to the baseboard to the middle of the wall. Nail through at each corner before filling in the gaps with nails.
Small baseboards can make good picture rails. With a tape measure and pencil, mark a line at the correct height on your wall. Ensure your old baseboard is the correct length. Holding the baseboard in place against the line, attach to the middle of the wall with a nail before fixing at each end and filling the gaps.