How to Remove Wood Paneled Walls

An empty room with one wall covered in wood paneling.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-100
What You'll Need
Crow bar
Work gloves
Wrecking bar
Prying bar
Putty knife
Sander (optional)

Wood paneling gives a room a distinctive look, though it has fallen out of use as decor in newer homes. Homeowners seeking to update and/or brighten a room often want to remove old wood panels as part of their renovations. These are fairly easy to pry away from walls, particularly if they are older and their adhesive has had time to loosen. The job requires some specific tools, but it can be finished within a handful of hours (depending on the size of the room). If you will be throwing away the panels, be sure to do so in a dumpster that can be rented for construction debris.

Step 1 - Remove any Molding

Ceiling molding, particularly crown molding, can make removing wood panels even more difficult. It can even create unnecessary cracks and other damage if directly attached to the tops of the panels. Use the flat end of your crow bar to carefully pry away any crown molding you might have. Take care not to damage it if you plan to reuse it with new panels or over a new paint job. The same caution applies to certain types of baseboards that have the wood paneling attached.

Step 2 - Pry From one Side of the Room

Starting from one corner of the room, carefully work the flat end of your pry bar under the first wood panel. Tap the other end with your hammer until the panel begins to lift, and loosen it along its entire length. You might want to wear work gloves for this part of the project, and make sure to hold your thumb out of the way of the hammer.

TIP: Be sure to use extra care if you want to reuse the panels for other purposes.

Step 3 - Use the Wrecking Bar

Pull away each loosened wood panel with your wrecking bar. If possible, try not to break them into smaller separate pieces; keeping them whole will make them easier to clean up. Remove any remaining panel bits with the smaller pry bar or putty knife. Repeat steps two and three until you have pulled all the pieces free from the wall.

Step 4 - Remove the Nails

Use the claw end of your hammer to pull out any nails left behind. These can be reused for new paneling as long as you're careful not to bend any; keep them in a safe place until you're ready to install new paneling if that is your intention.

Step 5 - Sand Away Adhesive and Clean Up

If your wall panels leave behind adhesive, smooth it away with sandpaper. You can do this step by hand or, if there are larger amounts of thicker adhesive, with a sander. Sweep up any dust and debris afterward with a broom and dust pan. Then, you can begin prepping your wall for new paneling, paint, or other treatment.