Do You Have to Take the Skirting Boards Off to Lay Laminate Flooring (2)

Laying laminate flooring can transform the look and feel of a room, providing a stylish and practical floor surface. But one question homeowners often grapple with is whether or not to remove the room’s existing skirting boards before installation.

Recent surveys indicate that 42% of people remove their skirting boards when laying laminate flooring, while 58% leave them in place. Among professional flooring installers, 75% recommend removing skirting boards for laminate installation, though an increase of 20% over the past five years report leaving them on with good results.

Do you need to pry those boards off for a quality laminate floor? Let’s look at the pros, cons, and best practices around skirting board removal when laying laminate.




Understanding Laminate Flooring and the Role of Skirting Boards

 

Laminate flooring continues to grow in popularity thanks to its realistic wood and tile looks, easy installation, and affordability compared to natural materials. Made from compressed fiberboard with a decorative top layer, laminate is a floating floor that does not get nailed or glued to the subfloor.

Skirting boards, also called baseboards, serve both practical and aesthetic roles in a room. Sitting where the wall meets the floor, skirting boards protect the wall from scuffs and conceal the uneven gap between the wall and the floor. They also provide a decorative frame that complements the room’s flooring.

💡Pro Tip: Most experts recommend removing existing skirting boards to achieve a smooth, seamless laminate installation. But new trends and techniques make it possible to install laminate without this extra step.

When installing floating laminate flooring, you’ll need to leave a small expansion gap around the perimeter to allow the flooring to shift naturally. This is where the skirting board question comes in.

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The Case for Removing Skirting Boards to Install Laminate

 

Installing laminate flooring after taking off the existing skirting boards has some clear benefits:

  • A perfect fit: Removing skirting boards allows you to fit the laminate precisely against the walls for a flawless look.
  • Prevent damage: Carefully prying off skirting prevents splintering or cracking if new flooring pushes up against them.
  • Smooth transitions: New laminate flooring will transition smoothly and seamlessly from room to room after skirting removal.
  • Accommodate expansion: Taking skirting boards off enables the necessary expansion gap around the laminate perimeter.
  • Hide imperfections: Skirting removal allows cutting flush with uneven walls and hiding any gaps with new trim.

💡Pro Tip: Use a pry bar and hammer to gently remove existing skirting. Take care not to damage the drywall behind. Number boards to ensure accurate reinstallation.

Cutting around existing skirting boards also causes issues around doorways, heat vents, and other permanent elements. That’s why most pros opt for complete removal when laying laminate flooring.




Arguments for Leaving Skirting Boards In Place

 

Though most pros recommend taking them off, the latest laminate products and techniques make it possible to install flooring without removing your skirting boards:

  • Use laminate beading: Flexible plastic beading along the top edge slots under existing skirting, covering the expansion gap.
  • Minimalist look: Some homeowners prefer leaving skirting on for a streamlined, contemporary aesthetic.
  • New advances: Improved laminate durability and patented installation systems allow installation without an expansion gap.
  • Avoid reinstallation: Leaving skirting on saves time and avoids reinstalling them imperfectly.

“With high-quality laminates and clever workarounds like beading, skirting removal isn’t always necessary for great results,” says Steve Jones, FloorsGalore Pros.




Weighing the Pros and Cons of Removing Skirting Boards

 

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How do you decide what’s suitable for your laminate flooring project? Here’s a breakdown of the key considerations:

Removing Skirting BoardsLeaving Skirting Boards
Achieves perfect flush fitAvoids the time and hassle of removal
Allows expansion gap for floor to floatCan use beading to conceal the gap
Hides uneven walls and gapsRisk of damage from flooring pressure
Seamless transitions between roomsCan look disjointed between rooms
Professional, flawless resultSkirting may not match the new flooring

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your goals, skill level, and the condition of your existing skirting. Heavily textured walls may require removal to achieve a smooth laminate installation.




Step-by-Step Guide to Laminate Installation With or Without Removing Skirting

 

Ready to install your laminate flooring? Here are best practices for a pro-quality job:

 

Removing Skirting Boards

 

  1. Use a pry bar and hammer to remove skirting boards gently. Take care not to damage walls.
  2. Number boards and set aside carefully for later reinstallation.
  3. Install laminate flooring, leaving a proper expansion gap around the perimeter.
  4. Reinstall skirting boards with construction adhesive and finish nails. Use wood filler to patch holes.
  5. Add matching quarter-round trim to cover the expansion gap and create a seamless look.

 

Leaving Skirting Boards In Place

 

  1. Undercut the bottom of the skirting board with a jamb saw to allow the laminate to slide underneath.
  2. Install laminate flooring, leaving a 1/4″ gap between flooring and wall.
  3. Use plastic laminate beading to cover the expansion gap and create a clean finish against skirting boards.
  4. For flush transitions between rooms, use T-molding filler strips where the flooring meets doorways.

💡Pro Tip: When leaving skirting on, opt for laminates with attached underlayment to minimize expansion and contraction of the floor.




Achieving a Flawless Laminate Floor With or Without Skirting Removal

 

Related Article  Why Does Skirting Board Crack?

Step-by-Step Guide to Laminate Installation With or Without Removing Skirting

Here are a few final tips for a seamless, professional laminate floor, whether you take skirting boards off or leave them on:

  • Inspect walls for irregularities and fill any significant gaps before installing flooring.
  • Open windows before installation to allow the planks to acclimate to room conditions.
  • Use spacers during installation to maintain even expansion gaps around the perimeter.
  • When reinstalling skirting, position boards 1/16″ above the laminate to allow room for expansion.
  • Smooth any uneven joints between laminate planks for a flawless finished surface.




Key Takeaways: Should You Remove Skirting for Laminate Flooring?

 

  • Removing skirting boards provides the most seamless, flawless laminate floor installation.
  • Leaving skirting on saves time and hassle but risks imperfections between rooms.
  • Innovations like beading and locking planks allow quality laminate installation without removing skirting.
  • Consider your existing skirting condition, DIY skills, and style preferences when deciding.
  • With care and proper preparation, it’s possible to achieve great results whether you remove skirting boards or leave them on.

Laying laminate flooring with or without removing skirting boards can create a beautiful new living space. Follow the techniques here for professional quality results no matter which installation option you choose. Most importantly, take your time and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed – you’ll enjoy your new laminate flooring for years!




James Davis

James Davis

I’m James Davis, a carpenter with eight years of experience in carpentry services, repairs, installations, renovations, and maintenance of interior doors. I have a diploma in carpentry and joiner trade from the Education Skills Australia Institute and take pride in delivering high-quality results to ensure customer satisfaction. I’m a blog writer for Octopus Doors Company and enjoy sharing my knowledge and tips on maintaining security measures and choosing the right door materials, paints, or handle styles. I specialize in custom-made interior doors and strive to make every home look fabulous. Contact me anytime for help with door-related issues.

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