A men installing a baseboard on a hardwood flooring

Should I Remove Baseboards When Installing Hardwood Floors? Let's Find Out

July 13, 2022
 |  By: 
Improvix Hardwood Flooring

Whenever you want wood flooring, the common question that comes to mind is- should I remove baseboards when installing hardwood floors? Removing baseboards is quite a hassle, and many want to avoid it. In the case of hardwood flooring, many think it is a must to remove the existing baseboard to cover the expansion gap. But this is not the case; one can skip this process if one wants to.

Removing baseboards when installing hardwood floors is not necessary. Remember that when installing wood floors, you must leave a gap of 1/2 inch. This gap allows the wood to expand and contract as per the weather. So, you can install a hardwood floor without removing the baseboards. Still, you must conceal the expansion gap with additional floor or shoe molding.

Whether to remove baseboards or not depends on the person's choice and situation. If you are in a hurry and do not have enough time to remove the baseboards, you can avoid the process. Though it is not mandatory to remove the existing baseboards, it is best if you remove them. It will give a perfect finishing floor installation.

A worker installing baseboards

Why You Need New Baseboards On a Hardwood Flooring

Before you decide not to remove the existing baseboard and install a new one, you must know what purpose a baseboard serves. We need baseboards to hide the gap between the wall and the floor. Along with that, it gives an excellent finishing to our house interior. Now, when we think of providing new flooring to our home, there is no need to remove the baseboards in many cases.

However, the situation with new hardwood flooring is different. There is no pressure on removing baseboards, but it is best if you can remove them. Because it will accommodate you to cover the extra 1/2 inch gap that you left for the hardwood to expand, Installing a new baseboard will ensure proper floor positioning 'with the height of the new flooring.

Baseboard hooks up the vertical and horizontal surfaces of the wall and floor, respectively. You must have noticed that the base part of the wall and the side part of the wall are not smooth. Instead, they are rough and have an unfinished look. The job of the baseboard is to conceal the rough sides.

Now, if you have decided not to remove the baseboards, there are certain things you must follow. As you know, the wood expands or contracts. So, during hardwood installation, use quarter-round molding to cover the expansion gap.

When You Might Not Want To Remove The Current Baseboards

A men installing a baseboard on a hardwood flooring

You might not wish to remove the original baseboards that are currently existing on your wall. Here are some of the reasons that explain why you would prefer not to remove the existing baseboards.

  • When you see the current condition of your wall's baseboard is in a poor state, you will not feel like removing them. Because if you remove the baseboards, they are likely to get broken. So, it will be painful if you were planning to reinstall the baseboards to save the cost.
  • Removing the baseboards might damage the wall if they are firmly glued. That is why you might prefer not to damage your wall and find an alternate solution to complete the work.
  • Another reason for not removing the current baseboards is the lack of time. When you are in a hurry and need to finish the project quickly, you might not want to remove the existing baseboard.

How To Install New Hardwood Flooring Without Removing Baseboards

If you are willing to laminate floors with hardwood by keeping the existing baseboards, here is the method that you should follow-

Fill The Gaps Between The Moisture Barrier

Tar Paper or plastic acts as a good moisture barrier. You can staple them to your old floor and wait until the material rises to fill the gaps in the barrier.

Nail The Floorboards

Choose the directions of the wall that you want your boards to run and start installing the first row of flooring facing towards that direction. Use 2-inch finish nails and nail them by facing each other to the subfloor creating 10-12 inch intervals. Then, using a flooring nail gun, nail the remaining part of the floorboards.

Leave A Gap

The new hardwood floor needs a gap of 1/4- 1/2 inches to expand. So, keep a gap between the new wood floors and the current baseboards. This gap will give enough room for the wood to expand.

Install Quarter Round Molding

Buy a quarter-round molding after you measure the maximum thickness of the gap with a measuring scale. The round mold will work best on your baseboard if it has a flat or straight surface. However, if you have a tampered baseboard, use straight molding by cutting them with a saw to nail the bottom part. Use 120-grit sandpaper to give a round finish to the front edge.

Paint The Molding

Before attaching the molding to the baseboards, you have to paint them. Then wait until the paint is dry. After you finish this process, you can fix the molding on the baseboards. If a nail is inappropriate, cut the head off and drill nail holes of the exact size. Then use wood putty to cover the nail holes.

Things To Follow If you Want To Remove The Baseboards.

While installing new hardwood flooring, you might want to remove the baseboards. For example, you might want to change the height or style of your current baseboards. So, for this, you will need to remove your existing baseboards. Here are some suggestions that you can follow while removing baseboards

  • If the baseboards are fixed to the wall with the caulk, use a utility knife to slice off the caulk.
  • To prevent damaging your walls, put scrap wood at the back of the pry bar.
  • You need to remove your furniture before you install a new floor. So, removing the existing baseboard the day before installing a new floor is best.


Should baseboards be removed before refinishing hardwood floors?

There are no fixed rules in case of keeping or not keeping the baseboards before refinishing hardwood floors. But generally, it would be best to put your shoes on and keep the base when refinishing a hardwood floor. If you remove the baseboards at the time of refinishing, it can damage walls as well as the baseboards.

Do you have to remove baseboards to install flooring?

No, it is not necessary to remove baseboards while you install flooring. Baseboards enhance the outer look of the flooring and give a top-notch finishing. So, you can choose to remove baseboards if you want to improve the interior of your house.

Can I stay in my house while the hardwood floors are refinished?

If you have sanded the wood floors with Bona Mega Clear HD, staying away from the floor for 2-3 hours is safe after finishing the project.

How do you fill the gap between hardwood floors and baseboards?

Use quarter-round or shoe molding to conceal the gap between the wood floors and the baseboards. If you want to replace the baseboards, you can cover the gap by placing the baseboard on the gap. Therefore, if you choose to replace baseboards, you will not need additional shoe molding to hide the expansion gap.


Other than covering the gap between the walls and the floor, baseboards enhance the beauty of your flooring. However, not everyone goes after beauty. That is why removing the baseboards while installing hardwood floors is not mandatory. If you do not want to remove the baseboard, just put in additional shoe molding to cover the gap that exists with the baseboards. On the other hand, you do not have to apply additional molding if you replace the baseboard.

If you are looking for the best hardwood flooring in Chicago, Improvix Flooring is the number one option. Call us at 773-345-9719 to know more about our services. Also, you can visit us at 3745 W Montrose Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60618.