How to remove an old door frame and architrave

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You might want to remove the door frame and architrave to replace them, or to if you want to remove the doorway altogether. Whatever the reason for removing frames and architrave it is usually relatively simple to do with some common DIY tools.

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  Removing the frames of a door should be relatively easy for most DIYers  

You should first remove the door. Remember, door frames will have variations in their design – if you have any doubts about removing any parts you should consult the manufacturer or a professional builder.


For more information see: How to remove an old door


Step 1 - Cut seal

  Cut the seal to remove a door's architrave or trim  

It's best to remove the architrave or any decorative trim first. Use a utility knife or sharp putty knife to cut around the edge of the architrave on both sides. This means the edge that meets the wall and the edge that meets the frame. 


This cuts any caulk, paint, wallpaper, or other sealants away, so the architrave won't cause any damage as it's being removed. You should make sure it actually cuts through and doesn't just score. 


Step 2 - Remove architrave 

Use a hammer to gently tap a chisel, or similar tool, between the architrave and the wall, or the architrave and the rest of the frame, until there is enough room the get a pry bar in. 


If you want to protect the wall or frame from damage, use a shim or some thick card under the bar. Carefully pry the architrave from the wall a bit at a time, moving around the trim, loosening it in different places until it comes off. If you want to reuse the architrave, or any other parts of the frame, you might want to label each piece to remind you where it will go back on.


Step 3 - Remove old sealant and nails

Use a scraper to neaten the surface the architrave was fixed to, removing any caulk or glue. This gives you a smoother surface to reapply any frames or trims. You should also pull out any nails that may remain.

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Step 4 - Remove frame  

  Remove the door frame by prying in off carefully  

Once the architrave is off you can use the same technique to remove the frame. You will need to look and see if the door stop is a separate piece or if it's carved into the jamb. Cut around the edges of the pieces to break the paint or any sealant. Saw through the separate pieces of the frame, the head and the jambs, across their breadth, at 45-degree angles so they can be levered out without binding.


Remove any screws then carefully pry each piece of the frame off, in the same way you pried off the architrave. If the frame has a sill at the bottom you should remove this last. The sill is usually fixed with something like a silicone sealant rather than nails, but you should still be able to pry it up in the same way as the other pieces. 


If you have a reciprocating saw or hacksaw with blades suitable for cutting metal, you can run this between the wall and the frame to cut any nails or screws. This should allow you to remove the frame without needing to pry off individual pieces. 


Step 5 - Tidy up

Remove any leftover nails or screws, or cut them off if they are stuck. You can scrape around where the frame was to remove any caulk or other sealant and gently sand the surface smooth. You should now have a clear, rough opening ready for a new frame or door set.

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