All throughout our laundry room renovation, our projects seemed to snowball. Replacing tile soon meant having to rip out the existing tile, which meant we needed to remove the quarter round at the base of the trim as well.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and technique, removing quarter round can be a breeze (P.S. if you want to remove your baseboards too, this technique also works for floor trim).
But before we dive into exactly how to remove quarter round (and all floor trim), let’s cover some basics about what exactly it is and what it does.
Do baseboards need quarter round?
Quarter round is found at the base of baseboards over hardwood or tile floors to help ease the transition between the floors and trim and cover any gaps. Now those gaps aren’t just caused by unlevel floors or poor installation. Many floors need room to allow for expansion and contraction throughout the year.
Even though we don’t notice it, our home is constantly swelling and contracting based on the weather (which is also why your caulk might crack during the winter). Without quarter round or shoe molding, that movement would become more obvious since you would see unsightly gaps between your floor and trim from time to time.
So yes, quarter round does have an actual purpose. Despite it’s purpose, you might want to remove it at some point. Whether you’re replacing your quarter round or removing it to update your floors, here’s the easy way to pry it away with damage.
How to remove quarter round
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Here’s what you’ll need:
- trim puller
- pliers or nail puller
- utility knife
Step 1: Score the caulk
Using a utility knife, score along the top and bottom of your quarter round. Apply a decent amount of pressure to ensure you”re really slicing through the caulk lines.
If you’re trying to save your quarter round or trim, be careful on this step not to accidentally slice them.
Step 2: Use the trim puller
Place the trim puller between the quarter round and your trim and hit it a few times with a hammer. Keep the trim puller as flush with the trim as possible.
I know that seems like an overly simplistic explanation on how to use the trim puller, but it really is that easy to use!
They even have a sticker on it with step-by-step (aka two) pictures of how to use it.
Bonus tip: to reduce the noise (because man, it’s loud), place a towel over your trim puller before hitting it.
Step 3: Pull your quarter round
As you move along your trim, gently pull your quarter round away from the wall. You want to pull it away as you go, don’t try to bend it or force it.
If you use too much force, you might snap your quarter round. If there is resistance, hit a few more places with your trim puller and/or try scoring the caulk more.
Step 4: Remove nails
To remove any nails that stayed in the wall, use pliers and pull straight back in a quick, jerking motion.
This technique is different than if the nails stayed in the trim. If you need to remove nails from trim, this video has a great technique.
How to remove floor trim
This same technique works great for removing floor trim as well. Our two best pieces of advice for removing trim without damage are:
- Don’t force it. If the trim is resisting, you either need to score your caulk more or pry another area with the trim puller.
- Invest in a trim puller. Yes, you can use a pry bar and putty knife, but the trim puller will make things easier and minimize damage to both the trim and the wall. In fact, the only damage we had when removing our quarter round and trim were areas that we accidentally scored with the utility knife.
Now that you’ve learned how to remove quarter round and trim, it’s time to get started on your next project. For us, it’s removing the tile and re-tiling the laundry room floor. Once we get that all installed, we’ll be installing new quarter round to finish off the look.
What can you use instead of quarter round?
If you don’t want to reinstall quarter round, the other option is to install shoe molding. Quarter round and shoe molding will cover any gaps between your flooring and your wall/trim.
Despite having the same job, quarter round and shoe molding are not the same thing. Quarter round is a quarter of a round dowel while shoe molding is a bit taller and more curved. Which is right for you is really a matter of personal style.