In renovation work, no two jobs are the same. If you’re working for someone with deep pockets, where money is no object, and everything has to be new and shiny and bright, good on ya! (And give me their phone number!) Normally, though, you’re working on a tight budget, and every penny you spend eats into your profit. Or you’re working on your OWN place, and therefore motivated to reuse as much as possible, which saves you both disposal and replacement costs. Replacing damaged trim, especially custom trim, can be incredibly expensive. That’s why, when Zenith Industries told us their new Trim Puller tool would revolutionize the task of removing trim, we were very interested in seeing if they had pulled it off. So to speak.
My first thought when I wrestled the Trim Puller from its package was “This is a serious chunk of steel!” And durable, high carbon, heat-treated steel at that. The Trim Puller is fairly heavy, and feels very sturdy. An impact absorbing EDPM rubber handle makes it comfortable to hold, though. It’s shaped a bit like a little garden hoe, with a good-sized blade in the front. The blade is ground to a very narrow bevel, to easily get behind your trim. An integrated wedged center piece behind it helps to separate the trim from the wall as you tap the blade down. Here’s a quick video from the Zenith Industries TrimPuller.com site:
I’ve Got Ten OTHER Pry Bars, Who Needs The Trim Puller from Zenith Industries?!
My assortment of pry bars ranges from a small, thin flat pry bar to a six-foot-long version with a pointed tip. The small, flat bar is great for getting in behind trim, but gives almost no leverage for pulling larger pieces off. The big bar is great for busting up concrete or prying balky studs apart, but would tear the living *&%$ out of delicate trim. The various bars that fall in between work with varying degrees of success, depending on the application, but I generally end up destroying more trim than I save.
Part of the problem is that most pry bars and claws have a relatively small contact area. This frequently ends up either splitting the trim, or gouging a hole in the wall. It’s generally not as bad if you do your prying right over a stud, but there’s still the issue of the small contact surface on the trim itself. The large, flat contact surface on the Trim Puller really does make a difference.
We tried out the Trim Puller on a kitchen remodel I’m working on. We had to remove a couple of sections of baseboard, remove a countertop from some base cabinets, and pull up a ceramic tile floor. The baseboard was over a plaster wall, which makes it challenging to remove without cracking the plaster.
We had a couple of sections of wall to do. After scoring along the top of the baseboard, we started at one end, tapping the Trim Puller down behind the baseboard. When you tap the Trim Puller down, the wedged center on the rear begins pushing the baseboard away from the wall. Once it was in, we rocked it gently from side to side. The Trim Puller has a large, wide surface, which provides very good leverage. By working our way slowly along the length of the baseboard, we were able to remove the entire thing, without damaging the baseboard – or the wall.
The floor tiles in the kitchen were set into a VERY beefy mortar bed. They were well-attached, and very reluctant to relinquish their hold on said mortar bed. We tried the Trim Puller on the tiles, and while it worked, it was fairly slow going and somewhat awkward, and we ended up going back to the straight, wide cold chisel. I imagine the Trim Puller would do a pretty good job taking care of stripping ceramic tile off a wall. As for separating the counter top from the cabinets, easy peasy!
For its next mission, we took the Trim Puller to an old duplex we are renovating. The last tenants thoughtfully destroyed much of the woodwork, giving us the opportunity to test the ability of the Trim Puller to remove various types of trim. They had somehow split the jamb and the casing on one of the closet doors, so I decided to put the Trim Puller to work removing the casing.
Once again, the trim was installed over a very old plaster wall, and I didn’t have high hopes of removing the trim without damaging the wall. I didn’t really care about the trim, because it was already destroyed, but I REALLY didn’t want to gouge big chunks out of the plaster. Once again, I scored the joint where the trim met the plaster, and very gently tapped the Trim Puller in near the bottom end of the trim.
Once it was in, I wiggled it from side to side a bit, then pulled it out and moved up a few inches. I repeated this process, very slowly and gently, all the way up the side of the trim. In a feat of demolition prowess likely to never be repeated, I was able to remove the trim without damaging the plaster. Woohoo! Now all I have to do is keep the plaster from cracking when I install the replacement trim. If you live anywhere near Pittsburgh, and you hear a loud, extended string of never-before-heard profanity, you will know I was unsuccessful…
Can The Trim Puller Wedge Its Way Into Your Toolbox?
The Trim Puller wants to be your weapon of choice for removing baseboard, door and window trim, carpet tack strips (a personal nemesis of mine), shoe molding, siding, chair rail and crown mold – in short, pretty much anything that’s nailed to anything. Or NOT nailed – it can also be used to pop ceramic tiles off the wall or floor. It’s comfortable to use, and did a great job on all the trim we aimed it at.
My take on the Trim Puller? It’s an excellent design, well thought out and solidly constructed. It didn’t damage any of the trim or walls, all of which were plaster, we tested it on. The built-in wedge and extra-wide blade help the tool work more effectively, and make it much less likely to damage the walls. It worked on the floor tile, but not as well as I would have liked. Again, I think this was primarily due to a Superglued mud bed, and it would be much more effective on wall tile. For trim? I love it – this just became my go-to trim puller. Hey, catchy name!
The Trim Puller is a very beefy tool, and seems like it will hold up well to repeated whacking. The manufacturer, Zenith Industries, has an interesting warranty: “If you don’t think our stuff absolutely kills it, we’ll refund your money and give you a sweet gift to give us another chance.” How can you go wrong?! The Trim Puller retails for $30, and is available online from the Home Depot and Amazon, with extremely good reviews on both sites.
The Zenith Industries Trim Puller is available online from the Home Depot and Amazon for $30: