How to Remove Part of a Lath and Plaster Wall

Lead Image
  • 1-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-40
What You'll Need
Wrecking bar or pry bar
Drop cloths
Reciprocating saw
Dumpster, garbage cans or construction trash bags
Masks or respirator

If you are remodeling or updating your older home, you may find it necessary to remove part of a lath and plaster wall. This can be a very messy, dusty job and will require some work, a way to dispose of the removed plaster and lathing, and a couple of tools you may not have. You may want to ask for help from a friend, but it is possible to complete this project by yourself.


If you are removing a load-bearing wall, you need to be skilled enough to build a header to support the weight of the rafters and roof above. This may be more of a job than you can take on, so you may want to hire a contractor. If you're removing part of a wall to install a door, half wall, breakfast bar, or pass-thru, you'll be fine.

Put down your drop cloths to protect your floors because this is a very messy, dusty, dirty project. It would also be wise to move as much furniture and accessories as possible from the room to a safer spot, or to at least cover them with drop cloths. You may also want to use plastic drop cloths to seal off doorways to other rooms so the dust won't travel to other parts of the house. Turn off the fans on your air conditioner or furnace also.

Make First Hits

Determine the exact area you want to remove and mark it with a pencil or chalk. Turn off the electricity to that area at your breaker box or fuse box so if there's wiring in the wall you won't run the risk of electrical shock. Do not skip this step!

Using your hammer, hit the plaster hard enough to crack it and start it to crumble. Keep hitting the plaster with the hammer until it is all broken up and falling from the lath. If you are opening an entire area, like to create a doorway, then do the other side of the wall. Clean up all of this and remove it.

Remove Lathing

Next, you'll need to remove the lath. Use your pry bar to hook under the lath strips that are exposed and pull them away from the studs to which they're nailed. Remove all nails from the studs as you go and drop them into an old can so you know where they are and won't step on one. Continue until all lathing has been removed. Clean up all of this and remove it.

Finish Up

If you're creating a complete opening to another room and have determined you don't have any weight-bearing walls, then you can use the reciprocating saw to cut the studs in the wall. If there's wiring in the wall, you'll need to reroute this wiring to above or below the opening. If you're not skilled in electrical work, this is the job of an electrician. Do not cut through any wires.