How to Remove a Full Interior Wall (Non-Load Bearing)

Sledgehammer taking down wall
Jens_Lambert_Photography / Getty Images
  • 01 of 11

    Removing a Non-Load Bearing Wall

    A set of construction tools
    Lee Wallender

    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.

    Tools Needed

    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:

    • Reciprocating saw
    • Crowbar
    • Large hammer
    • Sledgehammer
    • 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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  • 02 of 11

    Shut Down and Remove Electrical and Other Utilities

    A man removing an electrical outlet
    Lee Wallender

    Shut off all circuit breakers. Remove electrical plates, outlets, and switches.

    If pipes are located within the walls, shut off the water main.

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  • 03 of 11

    Remove Doors

    A man removing a door from its frame
    Lee Wallender

    You shouldn't have any windows to worry about—after all, these are interior walls—but you might have doors to remove.

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  • 04 of 11

    Remove Trim and Baseboards

    A man removing a wall's trim
    Lee Wallender

    With your flat bar, gingerly remove all trim and baseboards.

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  • 05 of 11

    Cut Paint/Caulk Between Walls/Ceiling

    Cutting the paint and caulk off an interior wall
    Lee Wallender

    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.

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  • 06 of 11

    Punch Starter Holes in Drywall

    Punching a hole in an interior wall
    Lee Wallender

    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.

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  • 07 of 11

    Cut Within Studs With Reciprocating Saw

    Cutting within wall studs using a reciprocating saw
    Lee Wallender

    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.

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  • 08 of 11

    Pull out Cut Sections of Drywall

    A man pulling out sections of drywall
    Lee Wallender

    Pull out these sections by hand.

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  • 09 of 11

    Cut and Remove Other Side of Drywall

    Removing the other side of a piece of drywall
    Lee Wallender

    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.

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  • 10 of 11

    Cut and Remove Studs

    Removing the studs of an interior wall
    Lee Wallender

    Use your reciprocating saw to cut each stud horizontally in the middle. Pull back the cut ends of the studs toward you.

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  • 11 of 11

    Pull Back Studs to Remove Them

    Best way to pull back interior wall studs
    Lee Wallender

    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:

    1. Switch to a metal-cutting blade in your reciprocating saw.
    2. Get on the ladder.
    3. 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.
    4. Complete cut. Remove stud by pulling back.