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The previous owner installed tile without re-installing the original baseboard. We are trying to remove the baseboard in preparation for installing laminate flooring. Afterwards our plan is to install new baseboard above the laminate flooring.

We started in a closet but we are finding it hard to remove the baseboard since some of the nails holding the baseboard are right at the level of the tile. So far I have a chisel to break the grout right by the baseboard, a utility knife to cut the paint at top of the baseboard and a small pry bar to pull at the baseboard.

Ripping up the tile is of course one way to make the baseboard removal easier; we're just nervous about getting in over our heads.

What method, technique, and/or tools should we be putting to use here?

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I got the exact same situation at home. –  Danny T. Oct 26 '10 at 12:36
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The easiest way to remove things is usually in the inverse order they were put in.

If you intend to put down new flooring, you must remove the tile anyway, so remove the tile first. I'll admit that the scariest thing to do might be the tear out. It forces you to accept that you are doing this thing, especially if you have never done something of this magnitude. It will make a mess of things for a wee bit.

I would suggest removing tile with a hammer and wide cold chisel. Break up at least a few tiles by hand. If you have a compressor available, a great tool here would be a flat air powered chisel. This tool would rapidly allow you to peel up the old tile. A bit noisy, but fast. If not, then the hammer and hand held chisel (don't use a wood chisel unless you have borrowed the wood chisel from someone you don't like) will do. Once a few tiles are up, you may find that a large ice scraper, used for breaking the ice from your sidewalk, will be useful to peel up the rest of the tile.

Once the tile has been removed, then remove the baseboard for later replacement.

Demolition can be the most fun part of a project. Try to keep the dust out of the remainder of the house, and use a dust mask.

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i agree, if you are putting down new flooring, you probably dont want to install that over the tile anyways, so start by removing the tile. –  mohlsen Oct 26 '10 at 12:25
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We started removing tile in the first bedroom. It is a big job. I'm using a hammer-drill borrowed from a friend. It is tough work. My tile is stuck too well to use a hammer and chisel. –  Mendel Oct 28 '10 at 16:39
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Borrow a compressor, or rent a small one for a day. Then use an air chisel. This would let you peel the tile up like a hot knife through butter. And you will be amazed at how useful an air compressor can be if you do work around the home. –  user558 Oct 29 '10 at 14:46
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"My tile is stuck too well to use a hammer and chisel." --- No, it isn't, its just a hell of a manual job. Go to Home Depot and rent the air compressor and air chisel like woodchips said. :) –  The Evil Greebo Oct 13 '11 at 12:47
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I know what your saying... you want to replace the baseboards and keep the tile. Easiest way that I found is to take an angle grinder and cut the old baseboards level with the old tile. I just used a blade for cutting concrete - still cuts through the wood with no problem. Then just take a box cutting knife and score the top in between the drywall and baseboard and remove the old baseboard with a chisel and hammer. Then install the new baseboard on top. (note: when cutting the baseboards with the angle grinder keep it at a 30 degree angel to the floor so you don't hurt the tile.) Keep a fire extinguisher close by - sometimes the wood gets hot... don't burn your house down! Shouldn't be a problem though I've done this on 4 full houses and works great everytime.

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One of the various "oscillating tools" might be a better option, as they're designed for this sort of flush cutting, and for going through wood (or wood w/ occasional nails). Still probably wouldn't hurt to keep the fire extinguisher on hand, though. –  Joe Oct 13 '11 at 16:03
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If you don't want to remove the tile, you could use a wood chisel to split the baseboard and leave it at the level of the top of the tile. Kinda messy and labor intensive thought.

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I started before seeing your answer. Depending on how the first bedroom goes - this answer may get very appealing. Thanks. –  Mendel Oct 28 '10 at 16:41
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