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How To Remove Tongue And Groove Walls

As you perform a remodel, you might need to demo some tongue and groove wall cladding. Thus, you are wondering how to most easily remove this material. Well, you have come to the right place. In this post, we will thoroughly answer your question using industry professional knowledge and research.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The best method for removing tongue and groove walls depends on whether you want to save the boards, your access, and the original method of attachment. The various methods for removing the boards include:

  • Use a pry bar and hammer
  • Driving boards off the wall from the opposite side
  • Drive nails through the board

Keep reading the rest of this post for details on how to remove tongue and groove boards both in situations where you want to repurpose the boards and when you simply want to remove them. To conclude, we will answer a few additional questions on the topic of this post. 

Tongue and groove wooden boards storage - How To Remove Tongue And Groove Walls

How To Remove Tongue And Groove Walls

First of all, you will have to decide if you want to save the tongue and groove wall boards or not. Often, old tongue and groove material would be very expensive to buy new. Further, this material is often made of attractive and durable wood.

Tongue and groove pine boards. Elements of building design.

However, it is much more time consuming and stressful to remove tongue and groove boards that you plan on repurposing. Even with care, expect to crack and/or ruin several boards.

In the following sections, we will cover three techniques for removing tongue and groove wallboards. Within each section, we will discuss how to perform the removal technique step by step. When appropriate, we also discuss how to amend the technique to suit your desired board condition outcome.

Remember, and according to OSHA, eye protection and gloves are very important for all the different methods described within this post.

Use A Pry Bar And Hammer

This method is a good choice for removing boards you do not want to save and when you only have access to one side of the wall. That being said, this strategy may also work if you want to save and reuse the tongue and groove boards. 

General Pry Bar Technique

For this strategy, the first step is to get an access point for your pry bar. To get this access, you may have to first remove baseboard trim or cabinets. Whatever your technique, the goal is to be able to place a pry bar between a tongue and groove board and the framing it is attached to.

For this job, you primarily need a solid pry bar that is relatively flat. Colloquially, these are known as "flat bars." You can also use heavier and/or lighter pry bars. In fact, it is useful to have a selection of bars that offer different torque, pry angle, and head thickness.

Click here for a flat bar from Amazon.

Now, set the short end of the pry bar under the tongue and groove board against the framing. Strike the bar with a hammer to wedge it under the board. 

This process has placed the pry bar in a location that will allow you to pry the board out from the wall which overcomes the holding power of the nails. Repeat this process at every piece of framing the board is attached to. 

Now that the board is partially off the wall, you can use a bigger pry bar or your hammer claws to continue to loosen the board from the nails. Eventually, you should be able to pull the board off the wall with gloved hands, or it may simply break away. Continue this for all boards that you want to remove.

How To Use A Pry Bar And Save The Material

If you follow the above directions, you will find that, as you pry, many boards will crack and break. This is especially the case at the fragile tongue and groove locations.

To avoid this breaking, the first step is to be very careful and to only pry a small amount at a time. The strategy is to pry a little bit at a framing element and then pry a little bit at the next one. Eventually, the nails will all be free and you can remove the board.

Tongue and groove wooden boards storage.

That being said, this gentle technique still leaves the fragile tongue trapped in the fragile groove. Unfortunately, this problem is difficult to get around depending on the exact form of the board and nails.

One strategy to protect these fragile board elements is to remove the boards from the groove side. This sometimes allows the tongue to rotate free of the groove and more easily slide free.

Driving The Boards Off The Wall From The Opposite Side

This strategy is only appropriate if you do not care about saving the boards and if you have access to the wall from the opposite side. 

Textured wooden decking background with lighting going from light to dark.

All you do is pound the boards with a hammer or sledgehammer under the nails break free. For an easier job, do not only pound in one place, but instead, pound a little all along the board. The goal is to drive the nails free without breaking the board into small pieces.

If you do end up breaking the board too much, you will probably need to also do some work with a pry bar to fully remove the board.

Drive Nails Through Board

If you are very interested in saving your tongue and groove material, driving the nails through the board is the safest and easiest option. However, if you find that you have very broad-headed anils rather than narrow-headed finish nails, this method may not be feasible.

The first step is to locate the nails. Often, they are driven through the tongue into the framing. This means that the nails are not visible outside the finished product. Other times, the nails may be driven through the faces of the boards.

Click here for a nail punch set from Amazon.

Either way, you will need to use a nail punch and a hammer for this job. For the neatest final product, use a nail punch that has a straight shank that is virtually the same size as the nail head. However, standard tapered nail punches also work.

Simply hold the nail punch against the head of the nail and use the hammer to drive the nail through the board. Be careful not to overdrive the punch, as this may split the board.

Once you have driven all the nails out of the board, it will usually pull off the wall easily. If the board is still sticking, it likely means there are still nails you have yet to detach. 

Is Tongue And Groove Easy To Remove?

Generally, tongue and groove wall boards are more difficult to remove than many other types of wall cladding. This is because they are relatively small and thus lead to many nails per square foot. Also, if you want to save the boards, they require a gentle touch.

However, if you follow the directions outlined above, you will have your tongue and groove wall boards removed in no time.

How Do You Remove A Tongue And Groove Board Without Damaging It?

As outlined above, the easiest way to remove tongue and groove boards without damaging them is by punching the nails through. However, it is also possible to carefully pry the tongue and groove off the wall without causing damage.

Can You Reuse The Removed Tongue And Groove Walls?

Yes, you can. The walls that you removed the tongue and groove board from are very reusable. Likewise, the boards that you removed off the walls are also reusable. However, it is only generally considered possible to reuse tongue and groove boards that are kept in good condition.

In Closing

wood texture background

In this post, we discussed three methods for removing tongue and groove boards from walls. We covered ways to both remove the boards outright and ways to remove the boards to keep them intact for later use. To close, we answered a few questions related to this topic of this post. Good luck!

To learn more about home demolition, take a look at these other articles:

How To Remove A Sliding Glass Door Panel

How To Remove A Shower Base

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