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Expert Tips, DIY

How to Remove an Existing Closet System

Posted by: Storganization Staff Tags: Expert Tips, DIY

You just bought a new closet system and you’re excited to install it and become more organized! But first you have to remove your existing closet system. That can feel like a daunting task. Not to worry. We have your step-by-step guides to taking out “plank and pole” and wire systems and prepping your closet for its new life.

ClosetMaid Tip: Before removing a closet system, clear out all the items that are currently stored there. Finding them a temporary home will give you the space you need to revamp your closet. You can use a portable closet for this purpose.

HubSpot Video

Watch this video for a quick primer on removing a “plank and pole” closet system.

Removing a “Plank and Pole” Style System

Many older homes have the “plank and pole” closet system. If you have one of these, follow our instructions on how to remove it.

Tools Needed: 

  • A power drill or screwdriver
  • Pry bar
  • Box cutter/knife
  • Safety glasses

Step 1: 

Remove the pole portion of the existing closet system. If poles are difficult to remove, unscrew the supports with the power drill and remove the pole from the closet.

Plank and Pole Closet SystemScrewdriver Graphic

Step 2: 

Remove the plank that is used as a shelf. If the plank was screwed in, remove all screws with the power drill. Scrape off any screws that were painted over before removal.

how to remove a plank and pole closet system

hammer removing a nail from a closet system

Step 3: 

Once the plank is no longer attached by screws, use the box cutter to slice away the paint or caulk that is holding it to the support board or drywall. Then, apply pressure upwards to free the board from restraints and remove it from the closet.
Box Cutter

Removing a Wire System

If you’re removing a fixed wire closet system, you’ll find that it has four main parts: the shelf, support brackets or arms, wall brackets and wall clips.

Tools Needed: 

  • Safety glasses
  • Power drill
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Box cutter
  • Hammer

tools to remove a closet systemGather your tools for removing your closet system.

Step 1:

Remove all support brackets or arms. This is the angled bar that supports the shelf. Use pliers to pull out pins or use a drill to remove any screws.

Support Bracket

Step 2: 

Use the support bracket to pull out the plastic anchors. If the anchor is not easy to remove, gently create a space between the bracket and wall. With a box cutter, cut off the opened end of the anchor and let the remaining piece fall behind the wall.

unscrewing a wall bracket

 Note: The shelf will still be attached to the wall by wall clips on the back side of the shelf.


Step 3: 

Lift the shelf to remove the back side of the shelf from each of the wall clips. If the shelf attaches to the adjacent or side wall, there may also be wall brackets on the front of the shelf.  If this is the case, simply lift the front of the shelf out of the wall brackets.

removing a closet shelf



Step 4: 

Use pliers to pull out pins or a drill to remove screws. Gently pull the remaining anchor of the wall clip away from the wall. To avoid a large hole, clip the anchor off the back of the wall clip and allow the anchor to fall behind the drywall.

Rejuvenating the Space

Once the old system is removed, you will likely need to repair the holes left behind. Use putty or spackle to fill any holes. Then, apply a new coat of your favorite paint color.

Putty Knife

Now that you’ve removed your old system, it’s time to install your new closet! 

For organization ideas, follow us on our social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

If you haven’t selected your replacement system yet, get inspired with our selection of DIY closet storage products or plan your new space with our design tools.


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