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I was looking to run some cabling behind my baseboards, but ran into trouble trying to get the baseboards off the wall. As best as I can tell, the contractor put the baseboards in, then laid the tile up to it, flush. As a result, it seems some of the baseboard is below the level of the tile. Obviously its hard to pull back the baseboards with a prybar if there's tile in the way.

  • Is this common practice? My intuition was that the baseboards were typically installed after the flooring was finished, rather than before.
  • Any advice on how to get the baseboards up?
  • What sort of cabling? You wouldn't want to run line-level voltage there. TV and speaker wiring might be ok, but it's prone to damage from nails. – isherwood Jan 19 '16 at 17:18
  • @isherwood It's going to be speaker wiring, and one cat6 cable (which is not being used for etherhet. It's being used by one of those USB over Cat6 devices to go further than USB traditinally goes). And yes, nails will be something to contend with. – Cort Ammon Jan 19 '16 at 17:50
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This isn't an answer that will solve the problem, but rather provides context. I grew up with this sort of stuff, working with my father as a finishing carpenter until I started my own career. However, the majority of our work was in new houses, so not a lot of renovation jobs.

In my experience, baseboard can either be installed before or after the tile, but if it is installed before, the baseboard is installed at the level the tile will be, leaving a gap below the baseboard to accommodate the tile. Once the tile is installed, quarter-round (or door-stop for a smaller profile) is used to cover the gap. If the baseboard is installed after the tile is installed, it is typically scribed to match the variations between tiles (quarter-round is short enough that it can bend).

Installing the baseboard first is easier because you can avoid the scribing, but if the customer didn't want quarter-round then we scribed it; usually the tile was pretty flat but there was always some to do. Of course, you could just leave the gaps (even if the tile is installed perfectly there will be gaps, especially with natural tile), but we never did.

Done properly, if tile was added where there was none before, either the baseboard should be replaced with it; or the tile should be installed in such a way that it is not cemented to the baseboard, then quarter-round installed afterwards.

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I had the same thing in my kitchen. The only thing I've found that works is a long reciprocating saw blade, at least 12" fine tooth metal cutting. Just pry out the top as much as you can & bend the blade behind as you cut to get the nails.

If you have an inside corner you're probably toast. I was hoping to get within 3' of the corner & then pry the baseboard straight up the wall to twist the nails loose enough to pull it away from the corner miter. But, it didn't happen & it split...of course then it came out & I glued it back together.

However, once the 1-side is out the other side does continue to work with the reciprocating saw. You'll have to nail punch the remaining nail heads out the front.

  • Good solution. Inside corners should be coped (in a perfect world). A long needle-nose plier can also work to twist the nails out from the back side. – isherwood Jan 19 '16 at 22:28
  • Thanks! Yeah, that was pretty much my first attempt. With the idea I could just pry it out 1/4" & smack the board back in to pop the nail head out of the filler & paint, which works quite well in many instances. But, no dice that time. I'm the guy who gets new stuff that's missing parts & grants favors to paint, just to find I have to first strip painted wallpaper. – Iggy Jan 19 '16 at 22:37

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