How to Remove a Wall in a House

Written by doug berthon
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How to Remove a Wall in a House
Know what type of wall you are removing—load bearing or partition. (house image by Michael Shake from Fotolia.com)

Removing a wall in a house may be either a simple or a complex project. For partition walls that do not carry a floor above, the ceiling joists or another supporting member, it's just a matter of removing the wall piece by piece. Walls that are load bearing and carry the weight of floors, ceiling joists or other framing members can be removed, but framing must be added or altered to prevent structural failure. It is important to know whether or not the wall is load bearing.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Flat bar
  • Gloves
  • Drill
  • Step ladder
  • Reciprocating saw (optional)
  • 2-pound hammer or sledge hammer

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine the type of wall to be removed. There is no simple way of determining whether a wall is load bearing or not. It takes a trained eye, and in some cases, the removal of some drywall to be sure. If your basement is unfinished, measure over to where your wall is upstairs. If it sits on top of a beam, it is most likely a load bearing wall. If the wall is in the centre of a large room, it could be holding up the ceiling joists which would make it a load bearing wall. Closet walls are usually not load bearing walls and can be removed. If there is an entire floor above the wall to be removed, go upstairs and locate the wall. If it sits underneath another wall, it may be load bearing. Generally, if a wall runs parallel to the ceiling joists, it is not a load bearing wall. If you have any doubt, do not remove the wall until you speak to a professional.

    How to Remove a Wall in a House
    Exterior walls are always load bearing. (wood frame housing image by Daniel Gillies from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Remove the drywall from the wall you plan to remove with a hammer and flat bar. To make cleaner corners and edges, score the drywall with a utility knife. Remove screws and nails with either a drill or a hammer. Try to remove the drywall in large pieces. A reciprocating saw works well to cut out large patches of drywall. Be sure of what is behind the wall. If there are live wires or water pipes, use extreme caution to prevent injury or damage.

    How to Remove a Wall in a House
    A header is used above openings to carry the weight of the load above. (construction details image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Remove the studs. Use a sledge hammer to knock the bottoms of the studs loose. Grab the studs by the bottom and swing them back and forth until the top drops away from the top plate. If the wall is load bearing, install a header before removing all the studs. A header is a framing member which bridges two points. Headers are often used to bridge two points and open up an area.

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