How to Remove Wainscoting

Gail Logan

Remodeling the interior of a house is often as much about removing existing elements as it is adding new features. With the right combination of elbow grease and time, wainscoting, or wood panels and frames attached to the bottom half of a wall, can be removed to drastically alter a room's look.

Removing Wainscoting

  1. Take off the top piece of moulding with the flat edge of a pry bar or crowbar. Begin at one end of a wall and work slowly toward the other end, pulling the moulding off as you go. The moulding will likely be attached with nails, so working section by section is essential for removing the wood.

  2. Remove any decorative strips underneath the top moulding and the baseboards along the floor, section by section at the point of the nail, with a pry bar.

  3. Find where the wainscoting is attached in the corners of the walls with finishing nails. Remove these nails with the hammer claw.

  4. Remove the wooden slats running the length of the wall, sometimes called furring strips, that form the majority of the wainscoting with the pry bar at the location where the nail holds the strip onto the wall.

  5. Tip

    If the wainscoting was adhered to the wall with nails and glue, use an adhesive removal solution to get rid of any remaining adhesive stuck to the wall once the nails and wooden slats are removed.


    Do not expect to remove wainscoting and not need to repair the wall. Pulling off the wainscoting will cause damage that will likely require retexturing and repainting the wall.