How to Remove Wood Trim

The best way to remove trim without damaging the wall

How to remove trim, moldings and other woodwork without damaging the wall or cracking the wood. Quick and easy techniques.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Wood trim removal technique

If you’re trying to remove baseboard or other moldings, chances are you’ll dent the walls or crack the trim in the process. Follow these simple techniques to avoid additional wall and trim repairs.

Begin by cutting through any dried paint along the top edge of the trim with a utility knife. Then search for the filled nail holes at one end of the trim. Prying near those will keep you from breaking out the drywall. Slide a flexible 3-in. putty knife behind the trim and pry out slightly. With the knife in place, wedge in a pry bar and pry the trim out an inch. If it seems like the trim is about to crack, insert a second putty knife between the pry bar and the trim. Move to the next stud and repeat the procedure. Continue prying out the trim a little at a time down its length. Then go back to the beginning and pull the trim off.

Pushing the nails back through the front of the trim will splinter the wood. Instead, pull them through the back with a nippers (Photo 2). Use just enough pressure to pull the nails to avoid cutting them off. If one breaks off, cut it as close as possible to the wood and leave it. That nub will just bury itself in the drywall when you reinstall it.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Nippers
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knives, 3-in. wide
  • Utility knife