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Removing a Non-Load Bearing Wall
Before anything else, you need to determine whether or not this is a load-bearing interior wall. This guide concerns only interior walls that are not structurally supportive i.e. non-load bearing. If your wall is partial—one end stops in the middle of the room—instructions are slightly different.
If the wall is not load-bearing, you can remove it with impunity. If it is load-bearing, you've got problems unless you make provisions for supports to replace the supports you are removing.
The more you have on hand, the better. You may not use all of them, but by having a lot of tools nearby, you reduce the temptation to "make do" with the wrong tool. For example, you might be tempted to stand on an overturned bucket instead of standing on a step stool or ladder.
For this project you will need the following:
Continue to 2 of 11 below.
- Reciprocating saw
- Large hammer
- Dust mask
- Hearing protection
- Electrical toolbox
- Plastic to shield rest of the house from dust
- Utility knife
- Step stool and ladder
- Eye protection
- Utility light and extension cord
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Shut Down and Remove Electrical and Other Utilities
Shut off all circuit breakers. Remove electrical plates, outlets, and switches.
If pipes are located within the walls, shut off the water main.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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You shouldn't have any windows to worry about—after all, these are interior walls—but you might have doors to remove.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Remove Trim and Baseboards
With your flat bar, gingerly remove all trim and baseboards.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Cut Paint/Caulk Between Walls/Ceiling
Take your utility knife and change the blade. Cut the junction between the wall you want to remove and all walls and the ceiling you do not want to remove.
When you remove drywall, this will prevent paper on the unremoved walls from endlessly pulling back.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Punch Starter Holes in Drywall
With your large sledge or framing hammer, gently tap the drywall and punch a starter hole. If the wall does not easily punch, you are probably hitting a stud. Move the hammer a few inches to the side and try again.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
07 of 11
Cut Within Studs With Reciprocating Saw
With your reciprocating saw in the starter hole, begin cutting out panels of drywall from between the studs. Wall studs (the 2 by 4s) are usually located 16 inches on-center apart from each other.
Aim to cut sections that you can grasp and remove in single pieces. There is nothing worse in wall-removal than having hundreds of pieces of drywall to pick up. By taking your time and being patient, you can take out large pieces, which will reduce your misery when later cleaning up.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Pull out Cut Sections of Drywall
Pull out these sections by hand.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Cut and Remove Other Side of Drywall
The big bonus of removing interior walls is no insulation to contend with.
One side of drywall is now completely gone. This exposes the drywall on the other side of the wall.
However, remain on the first side. This will let you see where the studs are located so that you can cut accurately.
In this example here, we particularly wanted to stay on the original side because there is a staircase on the other side.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Cut and Remove Studs
Use your reciprocating saw to cut each stud horizontally in the middle. Pull back the cut ends of the studs toward you.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Pull Back Studs to Remove Them
Now the work becomes much easier. You can see how the studs pull back in either direction. Because studs are usually nailed straight up or down (or sometimes are toe-nailed) they are impossible to pull out without making this kind of cut.
However, if the studs are in good shape and you can preserve them, then:
- Switch to a metal-cutting blade in your reciprocating saw.
- Get on the ladder.
- Start the saw and try to slide the blade between the stud and any horizontal pieces it is nailed to. If there isn't enough room to fit the blade in, you may need to cut into the stud.
- Complete cut. Remove stud by pulling back.