How to Remove Floor Molding to Lay a New Floor

Baseboard and shoe molding must come off before you lay a new floor.
Baseboard and shoe molding must come off before you lay a new floor. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Updating your flooring will add value to your home and improve its appearance, and, depending on what type you install, it's a job you can do yourself. As part of the preparation for the upgrade, you'll have to remove the existing baseboard, which often means detaching a layer of quarter-round shoe molding connected to it. Care is more important than technical expertise when it comes to removing molding. The job doesn't require much skill, but working carefully minimizes damage to the walls and makes it possible to reuse the baseboard and molding.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Claw hammer
  • Pry bar
  • 6-inch drywall knife
  • Stud finder
  • Pliers

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Cut the caulk and paint between the shoe molding and the baseboard as well as between the baseboard and the wall with a utility knife. This prevents the wood from splitting when you pry off the molding, and it protects the drywall.

Tap a rigid metal putty knife between the shoe molding and the baseboard, using a hammer, and pry the shoe molding out. As soon as the gap is wide enough, wedge in a pry bar and continue prying until the nearest nails pop loose.

Work your way toward the end of the piece of molding, prying in this way. When the end is loose, pull it out. The other end of the piece of molding should separate from the baseboard. If not, work toward that end with the pry bar.

Pry off the baseboard using a 6-inch drywall knife. It puts less pressure on the wall than a putty knife and protects the drywall. Start prying in front of a stud because the baseboard is probably nailed to the wall studs. Locate the studs with the help of a stud finder.

Pry next to a nail until the head of the nail pops out. Grip the head with pliers or with a claw hammer and pry it out. Work your way from the middle of each piece toward one end and then toward the other.

Number the pieces of baseboard and shoe molding as you go if you plan to reuse them. Numbering and stacking them in order helps you remember where they go.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sometimes the nails go all the way through the baseboard and remain embedded in the wall. This doesn't stop you from reusing the baseboard, as long as the wood isn't cracked. Don't forget to pull the nails from the wall before you start laying flooring.
  • De-nail the baseboard or shoe molding as soon as you remove it. If you leave it lying on the floor with exposed nails, someone could be injured.


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