How to Safely Remove Decorative Wall Paneling

Dated wood paneling
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-100
What You'll Need
Drop cloth
Face mask
Protective gloves
Adhesive remover
Pry bar
Water and brush or sponge

Removing decorative wall paneling safely can be very easy, depending on how much adhesive you used and how large an area the wall paneling is covering. It is much easier to remove decorative wall paneling that has already started to come loose. While it may take some time and effort, you can safely remove the decorative wall paneling in your home without running your walls.

Prepare the Room for Removal

Move any furniture away from the decorative wall paneling and remove any rugs from the room. Cover all furniture in the room with a drop cloth because drywall, dust, and debris will travel through the room. Cover the floor if you think it will be damaged by debris or falling pieces of the wall panel. Use goggles, gloves, and a face mask because you will be kicking up a lot of dust, and debris with this project.

Remove Molding and Trim

Before you can remove the decorative wall paneling, you need to remove any molding or trim around it. Start along the edge and try to hammer a chisel down into the trim to loosen it from the wall. If your trim has been attached by nails and not adhesive begin to loosen the trim. Once you spot the nails you can use a pry bar to pry the trim out by the nail heads. Once the molding and trim are loose, pull them away from the wall.

Remove the Decorative Wall Paneling

Room with dark wall paneling and carpet

Remove the wall paneling the same way you removed the trim. Start at the edges and use a chisel and hammer to try and pry the edges loose. Once a good portion of the panel's loose, try to pull it away from the wall. You may need to use the pry bar to help with this step, so make sure you don’t damage the wall while you're prying the paneling away. If you’re having trouble removing the paneling due to a lot of adhesive, you’ll have to remove the panel in smaller pieces. Use the chisel to separate the decorative wall paneling from the adhesive and the wall. Break off small pieces of paneling, and continue to chisel the paneling away piece by piece.

Remove the Adhesive and Cleaning the Wall

Use a scraper to scrape away any remaining adhesive. If you have a lot of adhesive, you’ll need to purchase an adhesive remover from your local hardware store. Make sure when you use an adhesive remover that there is proper ventilation in the room because the chemicals can be quite strong. Once the adhesive is all gone, use water and a scrub brush or sponge to clean the area where the decorative wall paneling was removed.