How do you properly remove baseboards and or shoe molding (trim)?

To remove trim properly, you will want to have some type of trim puller, crowbar, or a thin metal bar that can be wedged between the wall and the trim piece. Other tools you will want to have prior to beginning work include tape, a sharpie, pliers, scrap wood, and a razor blade. 

The very first thing you will do to remove your trim is score along the top of the trim piece to make sure the paint or drywall isn’t damaged as you remove the trim. Then you will get the trim piece started by either gently using your trim pull bar between the trim piece and the wall. Or another trick would be to use the crowbar and leverage the bar under the trim piece and lift it up. You don’t want to remove the whole piece this way, but it is a good trick to loosen the trim from the wall so you can get your trim puller between the wall and trim easier. 

Once you have enough room to get your trim puller between the wall and trim, you could use a scrap piece of wood above the trim and rest your trim puller on it so you are leaning your tool against the scrap wood instead of the drywall so there won’t be a chance of damaging the drywall/paint. 

Once the trim piece is removed, you should immediately remove the nails from the backside of the trim so you don’t hurt yourself, your floors, or things in your home. You remove the nails by grabbing the nail on the backside of the trim (not through the face) with pliers and using a twisting pulling motion to gently remove each nail. You could also look at the top and back of the trim piece you removed for imperfections, extra paint, or blemishes that you can cut or scratch off so the trim will lay flat when you reinstall the trim piece. If you are not reusing the trim piece you can obviously disregard most of these recommendations. 

The final few steps would be to label the wall and the back of the trim piece in a way so you know which pieces go where. You could begin to label each starting from the number 1 and continuing up with each piece or you could throw in a letter like L1 for living room 1. D1 for dining room 1 and so on. Whatever is your preference is what you should go with. 

Some trim pieces will break when you remove them. It doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong; sometimes when the wood gets too old it doesn’t handle the force you place upon it. Sometimes the trim is nailed through a stud and so it is harder to remove and requires more force. So, don’t be discouraged if you break some trim pieces. Just keep moving forward and your project will finish out great in the end. 

To further help, check out some links below to products or video tutorials:


  1. Trim Puller:

Video Tutorial:

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