How to Remove Crown Molding from Your Home

Crown molding, that intricately, carved wood-looking design situated between a wall and ceiling, adds beauty, charm, and character to any room, so why would anyone want to remove it? One reason might be that it is time to redecorate the room. Another might be because the crown molding has become damaged and is in need of replacement or repair. Still another reason might be that it is the wrong size molding for the height of the walls. Yes, there is specific size crown molding for certain wall heights.

Crown molding can be made out of several different types of material, such as plaster, wood, medium-density fiberboard (which is a made from sawdust and resin), and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), is usually sold and priced in lengths of eight feet, and comes in a variety of widths. As I mentioned earlier there are specific sized moldings for specific sized walls. If you have an eight foot ceiling, the proper size crown molding would be three to five inches, nine foot ceilings would require five to ten inch sized crown molding, ten to 12 foot ceilings would warrant ten to 20 inch crown molding, and 16 foot ceilings would need 18 to 25 inch crown molding.

Depending on what the crown molding is made out of and how it was installed will determine how easy or hard it will be to remove. If the crown molding is made out of plaster, it was probably fastened to the ceiling and wall with plaster or a plaster adhesive. Wood crown molding might have been glued to the ceiling and wall with wood glue and/or nails. It is best to try to find out first what is holding the crown molding in place so that you can get the proper tools to help you remove it.

There are a variety of tools you can use to remove crown molding, including small, handheld putty knives, a cat’s paw, pry bar, reciprocating saw, and adhesive removers, just to name a few. All of these are relatively inexpensive, ranging in cost from less than $5.00 to $50.00, except for the reciprocating saw (approximate cost $135.00), which you can rent at a tool rental shop instead. You will also need a quarter inch thick piece of scrap wood approximately four inches in length and at last two inches high.

Check to see if there is any paint on the crown molding holding it to the ceiling or wall and score this before attempting to remove the crown molding, so that when the crown molding is removed it will not pull off any of the paint from the wall or ceiling.

Once you have determined how the crown molding is attached, you can start removing it. Insert the pry bar under the crown molding and place the scrap wood below it so that the pry bar does not touch the wall or ceiling when you apply pressure. The scrap wood will prevent the pry bar from making any marks or holes in the ceiling or wall when you gently apply pressure and lift the crown molding outward. Gently do this the entire length of the crown molding. This technique will also help protect and preserve the crown molding if you should want to put it back up or use it somewhere else.

If you come to a nail that you cannot remove, use the reciprocating saw to cut it in half. Be careful using this, as it will easily damage the wall or ceiling. Use the cat’s paw to remove nails when the nail head is too damaged to remove with a standard claw hammer.

If the crown molding has been installed with an adhesive and bits and pieces remain on the wall after you have removed it, use an adhesive remover and/or a putty knife to finish the job. Patch any holes with patching plaster for plaster walls or wood putty for wooden walls in order to achieve a clean smooth surface.

Finish the job by replacing the damaged crown molding; add a new color of paint, or a decorative boarder.


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