Prying baseboard trim away from wall. Detailed Article

Refinishing Hardwood Floors -
Part 1:
Trim Removal and Preparations

In This Article:

A closet bi-fold door is removed.
Baseboards and door casings are removed.
Heat registers are removed.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic To Intermediate) Time Taken: A Couple Of Hours

By , Editor


Before refinishing the floors in my house, I needed to remove some obstacles like the closet bi-fold doors. I find it's best to remove obstacles and replace them later, rather than trying to work around them.

To gain access to the edges of the floor, I decided to remove the baseboards and door trim. Since I will also be re-painting the room, it makes sense to remove the trim. I'll be able to paint the walls without masking the trim or tedious cutting-in. I can paint the trim a contrasting color... or I can replace it with a different millwork profile, which is the direction I'm leaning. 

Photo of the main floor bedroom before floor refinishing.

Note the plain "modern" baseboard. I'd like to replace it with something more interesting.


The closet doors needed to be removed before I could sand the floors.

Removing these bi-fold doors involved rotating the bottom hinge pin (which is threaded) to lower the door. Then the door could be lifted out of the bottom hinge socket.


While the door is kinda in my way, I'm going to leave it on the hinges for now... to keep the dust in the room.


Tearing Apart:

Using a cordless drill, I removed the bi-fold door hardware. Removing bi-fold door hardware.


Trash Talk:

I just threw this hardware away. I have a personal vendetta going against bi-fold doors. There's no way bi-fold doors are going to return to this closet... I'd rather have no doors than bi-fold doors.

Bi-fold doors rarely operate smoothly. Bi-fold doors frequently jam up. It's very easy for a child to push the wrong way on a bi-fold door and bend the track.

Bi-fold doors are simply a bad idea. No... if they worked at all, they'd be a bad idea, but they hardly ever work, so bi-fold doors are essentially a fraud.


I removed the bi-fold hardware from the hollow-core doors so I could use them for workshop shelves.


Trim Removal:

I began removing the baseboard at the closet door, where the pieces were small.

I placed a small pry bar against the edge of the trim and tapped it with a hammer.


Some of these small outside corner pieces were glued to the other piece of trim, which meant that the glue joint broke as I pried it.



Since the paint appeared to be bonding the trim to the wallboard, I ran a sharp knife along the top edge of the trim to break this bond.

I almost always do this when removing trim on older houses.

Scoring the paint so base board can be removed without damage.


Pulling finish nails with carpenter's pliers and prybar. Many trim nails remained in the wall after the baseboard was pried away.

To remove these nails I sometimes used a pair of carpenters pincer-pliers, which are similar to end-nipper cutters.

Instead of prying against the drywall, I placed the end of the pry bar underneath the pliers. This prevents breaking or denting the wallboard.


I removed this heat register by taking out the screws that held the outer part to the backing plate.


The backing plate was held in place with a couple of drywall screws, which I removed with a drill-driver.

Note that there a LOTS of different heat duct registers out there, and they won't all remove like this one.


I removed the register backing.

With the register gone, I could continue removing the baseboard.


Most of the time, I use two or three pry bars to remove longer sections of trim. I start at the easiest end, with a mini-prybar if necessary, and slowly work the wood away from the wall.

I progress along the board, trying to pry adjacent to the nails if possible.


I always remove the nails from trim.


Pulling nails through the trim board. Sometimes the nails are easier to remove by pulling them through the board.


I label the backs of each piece so there's no confusion later.

After the trim was cleaned up, I bundled the pieces together and wrapped the ends with shrink wrap, which helps keep things organized in my chaotic workshop.

I removed the door casing trim.

I only needed to remove the side pieces to sand the floor, but I removed the top casing too.

This step could be omitted if the floor was carefully sanded around the casing.


We started sanding the floor with 36 grit sandpaper.


Continue To Part 2: Sanding


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Cordless Drill-Driver

Materials Used:

  • Stretch Wrap
Related Articles:


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Written September 6, 2006