In so many home remodeling projects, the first step is to remove your trim. And often, you don't want to get rid of the old trim because it can be hard to find a perfect match at the lumberyard or home center. However, trim can be difficult to remove without splintering and breaking it. Trim is thin and often made of engineered wood, plastic, or softwoods. It was not made for the entire cycle of installation, removal, and re-installation. But there's a carpenter's trick that works almost every time, thanks to the small heads on the finish nails trim is typically installed with.
Most interior trim is attached with finish nails or brads, both of which are thin and have small, round heads. Trim fastened with these nails can be pulled off without removing the nails. Some nails will stay in the wall, while others will come off with the trim. You can then you can pull any nails remaining on the trim through the backside of the material, leaving just a small hole on the face of the trim. With the nails that stay in the wall, you can pull them or simply pound them back in.
Is Your Trim Worth Saving?
In some cases, your time may be better spent trashing old trim and installing new trim. A strong case can be made for bypassing salvage operations altogether, particularly when the old trim is made of medium-density fiberboard, or MDF.
The reason is that MDF is so brittle that pulling it outwards to gain leverage will easily snap the trim. If you decide to dispose of your trim instead of saving it, you can simply break it by hand into foot-long pieces for your household garbage bin. New MDF door trim, for example, can be purchased for less than $15, or you can opt for equally inexpensive finger-jointed softwood molding. Both are suitable for projects that will be painted. If you want to stain the trim, you'll need a more expensive solid wood.