How to knock out a load-bearing wall

Written by kristie lorette
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How to knock out a load-bearing wall
Learn how to demolish a wall in your home. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Knocking down a load-bearing wall entails more than the demolition of the sheet rock and inner materials because the wall is a structural element of the house, meaning it supports the ceilings and other walls in the room. Building expert Tim Carter from Ask the Builder suggests working with a structural engineer before removing a load-bearing wall.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Crow bar
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Nail puller
  • 1.36kg. sledgehammer
  • Claw hammer

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  1. 1

    Remove the baseboards and any other moulding or trim on the wall. Use a crowbar to pry the moulding or trim away from the wall and then use the reciprocating saw to cut the nails that attach the moulding to the wall.

  2. 2

    Remove the portions of the nails that are still stuck in the wall with the nail puller. If you intend to reuse the moulding, use the nail puller to pull the nails out of the wood pieces, taking care not to damage the finish.

  3. 3

    Turn off the electricity to the room at the junction box of the home. Remove all the lighting fixtures, light switch plates and other fixtures on the wall you are removing. Separate the fixtures from electrical wires. Attach electrical wire caps to each of the wires coming out of the wall.

  4. 4

    Use the saw to cut along the perimeter of the wall. The cut prevents attached walls from damage when you start to demolish to the load-bearing wall.

  5. 5

    If the walls are plaster, remove the plaster using a small sledgehammer. Break the plaster away from the lathe, which is the structure below the plaster. After removing the plaster, remove the lathe using the crowbar and claw hammer. If the wall is drywall, use a sledgehammer to make a hole in the wall and pull away the drywall sheets. Continue making holes and pulling on the drywall until the exterior is removed from the wall.

  6. 6

    Remove electrical boxes or pipes that run inside of the wall. If you are removing water pipes, cut the pipe and cap it to keep the water from leaking out. If it is a waste pipe, contact a plumber for proper removal and redirection of the waste pipe.

  7. 7

    Construct temporary support for the load-bearing wall. Since the wall is a support for the structure of the home, you need to build a temporary support system to hold everything in place during the demolition of the support wall. Slide 4-by-4 wood boards under the ceiling and angle the board against the floor. Install the boards every 2-3 feet.

  8. 8

    Remove the studs. Cut the studs and then knock with a small hammer to knock the boards loose from the guts of the wall.

  9. 9

    Remove the bottom and top plates of the wall using the crowbar.

Tips and warnings

  • You should install a new support system to replace the temporary support system according to the instructions provided by the structural engineer.

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