Removing a wall can create more open space, so it's often a key part of remodeling renovation. On top of the design benefits, it's a major stress reliever. Here's how to bring down the house.
Step 1 - Evaluate Load Bearing
The single most important aspect of removing any wall is to ensure you’re not removing any structural support. Some walls are part of the home’s skeleton—the very core of the architecture. If you don’t know for sure whether it’s a load-bearing wall, pull in an architect or contractor to evaluate it for you.
Step 2 - Prep the Space
When removing a wall from a space, you’ll need to move furniture and wall hangings, even those on nearby walls. Cover anything you choose to leave in the area. Removing a wall is a dirty, dusty job so cover your floors and close any doors to adjacent rooms.
If this is a family project, have a little fun before demolition begins. Grab the markers and paint and let each family member help in making a mural of sorts. Remember to sign your artwork and include the date. Then take a picture for posterity before bringing in the tools to knock it all down.
You’ll want to have a plan for how you’re going to deal with the waste from the project. You may be able to reuse wall supports, such as 2x4 planks. However, there will be plenty of materials to haul away, either in a truck, trailer, or in a rented dumpster.
Step 3 - Remove Wall Material
If you’re working with paneling, rip sheets away from the studs. For tile walls, grab a sledge hammer and put on the goggles for safety. Smash tiles, allowing the debris to fall to the protected ground. For drywall, use a hammer to break through the materials.
Then simply pry the sheets away from the studs (they will break into pieces). Use a pry bar or cat’s claw under nails where needed.
Step 4 - Deal with Wiring and Plumbing
Hopefully you know before you tear into the wall whether you’re going to need to deal with systems hidden inside. Make sure the electrical circuit is turned off before touching any wires. If you’re not comfortable with electrical work, bring in the electrician to reroute wires around the wall.
They may need to go under the floor or above the ceiling. Other times, they may be able to just be eliminated, such as when wiring leads to a single outlet at the end of a series.
Handle plumbing in a similar way. Any pipes behind the wall material will need to be removed or rerouted. Create a plan to do the work or hire a plumber for the job. Similarly, you may also need to reroute ductwork in the walls.
Step 5 - Remove Studs
Once you’ve removed the wall material and any components of water, heat, and electrical systems in the home, you should literally be down to bare studs. This is when it is essential to know if you have any load-bearing walls. If you do, you either need to leave the support beams or replace them with another type of support, such as a ceiling beam.
If you don’t have any load bearing components, you can remove all the framing materials. One option is to use a large hammer to break pieces away from each other. Another option is to use a reciprocating saw to cut through any nails or screws holding the wall in place along the top and bottom.
A Note About Safety
Removing a wall is definitely within the scope of many DIYers, but no two jobs are alike. Put safety as your top priority by wearing ear protection when using loud tools, goggles when removing materials, and gloves to protect your hands. Also work from the top down, watching for falling pieces that can cause injury.
Step 6 - After the Fall of the Wall
Once you have all the materials cleaned up, you’ll still have damage left behind from the wall removal. This includes needed repairs to flooring as well as the ceiling materials where the wall was attached.