How to Remove Part of a Lath and Plaster Wall
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 the help of a friend, but it is possible to do this alone.
Step 1 - Prepare
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 are removing part of a wall to install a door, half wall (like a breakfast bar) or pass-thru, you will be fine.
Put down your drop cloths to protect your floors as this is a very messy, dusty project. It would also be wise to remove as much furniture and accessories as possible from the room to a safer spot or at least cover them. 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.
Step 2 - 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 is wiring in the wall you won't run the risk of electrical shock. Don't 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 fallen from the lathing. 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.
Step 3 - Remove Lathing
Next you will need to remove the lathing. Use your pry bar to hook under the lathing strips that are exposed and pull them away from the studs to which they are 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.
Step 4 - Finish Up
If you are creating a complete opening to another room and have determined you don't have any weight baring walls, then you can use the reciprocating saw to cut the studs in the wall. If there is wiring in the wall, you will need to reroute this wiring to above or below the opening. If you are not skilled in electrical work, this is the job of an electrician. Don't cut through wires.