Removing trim or molding without breaking it can be a difficult job. Unless you want to keep the trim or molding, it would be easier to just rip it out and throw it away. However, if you want to salvage the molding or trim, there are some simple steps that can save you time and headache.
When removing trim or molding you will start by running a utility knife along the seam between the molding and the wall. Many layers of paint can make it difficult to remove molding and by running the knife between the seams you'll loosen that paint, making removal a much easier job.
When removing the trim or molding you do not want to use a screwdriver or anything of that nature - you'll be much more likely to gouge the wall if you do. It is best to use something flat and sturdy. You can find a flat pry bar at a local hardware store, but a good sturdy putty knife can do the job just as well.
Be sure to you lace something like newspaper or thin cardboard between your pry bar or putty knife and the wall. This prevents denting or scraping the wall. Place the protective material where you will apply the most leverage between the pry bar and wall. Work very slowly and evenly down the length of molding or trim.
If nails pull through the wood, that is all right; you can fill those in later with wood putty. The process will actually be much easier if you do not try to keep the nails in the wood. This way you will not have to pry the nails out of the wood once you have removed the molding or trim. After you have removed the molding you can either pull those finishing nails out with pliers or a light hammer, or nail them back into the wall. If you choose to leave the finishing nails in the wall after you remove the molding, be sure that when you fill the nail holes in, you sand the wall before painting. This will give the wall a nice smooth finish.
Removing molding or trim without breaking it can be a frustrating task; if you follow these few simple steps, removing your molding will be a breeze. Just remember to take your time, especially with homes that have older trim or molding.