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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished putting down a nice hardwood floor and was starting on attaching the new baseboards but there's a problem. The drywall is not very stout at the bottom of the wall.

When I removed the old baseboards, I was very careful with the chisel and pry bar and hammer in prying off the baseboard from the wall. However, in some places, the hammer or the pry bar wanted to go right through the drywall as though there was no more gypsum inside.

I'm trying to attach the first piece of baseboard and the first nail pushes the bottom of the baseboard in so that now it's slightly slanting out at the top. The nail went in to wood, I'm sure of that, because I can't pry off the baseboard without damaging the drywall even further.

My question is, what do you do when the drywall is not substantial enough to be the foundation behind the baseboard so that the baseboard can remain vertical and plumb?

I was thinking maybe you cut off enough drywall and fill the space with a strip of wood that is the same thickness as the drywall.

What do the professionals do? I can't be the first one to come across this situation.
 

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A picture so we can see just how bad it is would help.
But yes your idea will work.
That how the old plaster walls where often done so there was something solid to nail to.
In the future only prying where a stud is, make sure to cut the paint line at the top of the baseboard, use a wide putty knife to tap behind the base and use that as the fulcrum point to spread out the load.
 

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That's not a good situation---drywall must be 'hung high' and not attached to the bottom plate of the wall.

You have a couple of options--your first idea about cutting out a few inches and adding wood---

Setting screws into the studs--flush with the drywall---to keep the base board straight --will also work (as long as you nail into the studs )--be prepared for the occasional jam when you shoot a nail and hit a screw)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A picture so we can see just how bad it is would help.
But yes your idea will work.
That how the old plaster walls where often done so there was something solid to nail to.
In the future only prying where a stud is, make sure to cut the paint line at the top of the baseboard, use a wide putty knife to tap behind the base and use that as the fulcrum point to spread out the load.
I will see what I can do about pictures. I have another corner that will likely give me the same problem so I can show that as an example.

I scored the caulk with a utility knife, then used a putty knife to get behind the baseboard, then a chisel, using the putty knife as a backstop, to start to pry the baseboard away from the wall. What I didn't do was use a wider putty knife to protect the wall while using the pry bar. However, I tried to use as little pressure as possible on the drywall while I was prying, knowing that the drywall wasn't the best surface to be putting pressure on. It worked mostly but there were a few stubborn spots.

A problem I have now is the one nail I've driven. I want to remove the baseboard so I can work behind it. Hopefully using a wider putty knife against the drywall will give me the leverage I need to pop it back off.

I knew I wasn't keeping the baseboards so I didn't pay much attention to what I was doing to them in the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's not a good situation---drywall must be 'hung high' and not attached to the bottom plate of the wall.

You have a couple of options--your first idea about cutting out a few inches and adding wood---

Setting screws into the studs--flush with the drywall---to keep the base board straight --will also work (as long as you nail into the studs )--be prepared for the occasional jam when you shoot a nail and hit a screw)
The screw idea sounds a lot simpler than my idea. Thanks.

To avoid hitting a screw, I can make sure to position them between studs where I know I won't be shooting any nails.

It's always the last mile that's the hardest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After I got the putty knife through the caulk and behind the baseboard, I used a chisel, against the putty knife, to create a wider gap so I could get the pry bar in there. I didn't use the chisel to pry.

I am using that exact pry bar shown in your link.

I never thought to turn it to pry. I'll have to remember that. Every project is a learning opportunity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A little more information (sorry, no pictures yet):

Around the rest of the room, the base of the drywall is solid. I'm not just talking about the integrity of the drywall itself, it's solid. You know that it's attached and it's attached to something solid behind it. The drywall screws are nicely flush with the surface of the drywall.

The corner in question has some give to it. When I press on the base of the drywall, it moves. This is an outside wall. In fact, the adjacent wall is also an outside wall. The base of it's drywall is solid. No movement. 2'-3' from the corner of the wall in question, the base of the drywall is solid. No movement when I press on it.

I can't see behind the baseboard (that I can't remove) to verify if there is a drywall screw in the corner. The next screw out from the corner is maybe 18" away and is sunk in. When I press on the drywall, you can see it move (though not as much) around the screw, which is stationary, as you would expect if it was in the sill plate.

If I can get the baseboard removed, I will try the screw method suggested by OhMike. It seems I should be able to go right through the drywall, into the sill, as if I was actually attaching the drywall for the first time. That should give me a solid base for the baseboard to butt up against so I can drive a nail in to hold it in place.
 

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I think that there is something wrong with that one wall---without x-ray vision--the best you can hope for is that it was built wrong (and not suffering from a water problem)

My favorite trim removal tool is a big 5 in 1 painters tool.

Drive it behind the trim and pull outward---sometimes, set the blade on top of a nail behind the trim--smack with a hammer--and you have pulled the nail right out--
Handy to do when the base board is trapped by the flooring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think that there is something wrong with that one wall---without x-ray vision--the best you can hope for is that it was built wrong (and not suffering from a water problem)

My favorite trim removal tool is a big 5 in 1 painters tool.

Drive it behind the trim and pull outward---sometimes, set the blade on top of a nail behind the trim--smack with a hammer--and you have pulled the nail right out--
Handy to do when the base board is trapped by the flooring.
From what I can tell, I don't see any evidence of water damage. The sill that I can see looks normal. I think it's just a case of the drywallers not doing a complete job all the way to the floor in this one corner.

I found an article on overcoming typical problems with installing baseboards and my idea of using a piece of scrap wood to form a good base was mentioned. Your screw idea seems easier though.

I'm not sure I understand your description of using the painter's tool. When you say "smack with a hammer", are you talking down on the handle, like a chisel?
 

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Yep---once you have the baseboard pried out a bit---feel for the nails--set the tool on top of the nail and strike the tool with your hammer.

This will bend and pull the nail through the back of the trim.--very handy skill--tough on the painters tool--but a real good technique.
 
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