A DIY Guide to Removing Wood Paneling | 2-10 HBW

How to Remove Wood Panels from Walls

Removing wood paneling isn’t too tricky if you know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, it can become a tedious endeavor if you rush into the job without the right knowledge. Read on to learn how to remove wood paneling that’s been glued in place or nailed onto drywall and wall studs.

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Drywall putty
  • Chisel
  • Heat gun

Stage 1: Properly Prepare the Room

Remove any pictures from the walls and consider removing furniture from the room or covering it with a sheet or plastic drop cloth.

Remove any molding, baseboards, light switch plates and outlet covers:

  1. Slide your flathead screwdriver between the molding or baseboard and wood paneling.
  2. Gently pry until you create about a quarter of an inch of space.
  3. Use your pliers to remove any nails once they are exposed.
  4. Carefully remove the molding or baseboard from the wall.
  5. Unscrew and remove any light switch plates and outlet covers.
  6. Store all items in a safe place where you can easily find them later.

Stage 2: Look Behind the Panels

To determine the best way to proceed, you need to find out if your panels are nailed in place or attached by adhesive.

  1. In a corner near the flooring, use your hammer to carefully tap your pry bar within the seam where the two walls meet.
  2. Wiggle the pry bar to loosen the wood paneling.
  3. Use your pliers to pull out any nails that come loose.
  4. Gently pry the panel away from the wall to see if it is glued in place or nailed against drywall and wall studs.

Stage 3: Remove the Panels

These general removal steps apply to tongue-and-groove, shipboard and barn paneling. If you are working with tongue-and-groove panels, it’s easier to pry away the tongue side first.

If it’s nailed to studs:

  1. Pry away the panel using your hammer and pry bar.
  2. Pull out nails using pliers as they come loose.
  3. After removing every nail, pull away the paneling.
  4. Stack your panels in a pile or dispose of them responsibly.
  5. Continue until you’ve removed every panel.
  6. Use drywall putty to patch nail holes.
  7. Add new paneling or install drywall over exposed studs.

If it’s nailed to drywall:

  1. Pry away the first panel using your hammer and pry bar.
  2. Pull out nails using pliers as they come loose.
  3. After removing every nail, use your pry bar to gently ease away the wood panel.
  4. Carefully wedge your chisel or pry bar between the next panel and repeat.
  5. Work slowly to avoid damaging the drywall.
  6. Continue until you’ve removed every panel.
  7. Use drywall putty to patch nail holes.
  8. Dispose of unwanted paneling responsibly in a dumpster or garbage bin.

If it’s glued in place:

  1. Pry away as much of the panel as possible using your chisel and hammer.
  2. Work slowly to avoid damaging the drywall; stop once you get to the glued-on portion.
  3. Beginning with the lowest setting, hold the heat gun about 5 to 7 inches from the section of paneling that you’ve lifted.
  4. Keep moving your heat gun around to avoid burning the panel.
  5. As the glue softens, pry the panel away.
  6. Continue to apply heat as you remove the panel with your free hand.
  7. Scrape softened glue residue from the drywall using your chisel.
  8. Continue until you’ve removed every panel.
  9. Eliminate remaining glue residue from the drywall using sandpaper or your heat gun and chisel if necessary.
  10. Use drywall putty to patch nail holes.
  11. Dispose of unwanted paneling responsibly.

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