Remodeling projects often require demolishing a wall or two. But before you break out the sledgehammer and get to work, there are a few things you should know about removing a wall. From checking if it's load-bearing to properly removing studs, here is a complete guide on how to remove an interior wall in your home.
Check Load-Bearing Status
You need to make sure the wall is not load-bearing before taking it down. Load-bearing walls are usually located at the center of the house and run perpendicular to the ceiling joists. You can double-check if the wall is load-bearing by looking at the joists from the attic. If the wall is running in a different direction as the ceiling joists, then it's probably load-bearing. It's always recommended to get a second opinion before removing an interior wall.
You can lessen the amount of mess by scoring the area where the wall butts up against the ceiling. This will help prevent any tear-out when you pull down the wall as well as make cleaning up the ceiling a lot easier. This same principal holds true if you are only removing a part of the wall and want to avoid damaging the ceiling around the wall. You can follow the same process if you're only removing a portion of the wall.
Check Electrical and Plumbing
Inspect both sides of the wall for any electrical outlets, plumbing, or HVAC vents. Covers and vents should be removed before tearing out the drywall. It's also a good idea to turn off the electricity just in case any electrical wires are running through the wall undetected. If the wall contains any plumbing, shut off the main water supply and consult a professional before continuing.
Cover furniture and carpet with large cloths or sheets around the soon-to-be demolished wall. Place some cardboard on both sides of the wall to catch the heavier chunks. If the house is older than 1978, then you will need to have the wall checked for asbestos before tearing it down. You should also have heavy-duty garbage bags on hand and make sure you have a plan for disposing the materials once you're finished.
While it's tempting to bust out the sledgehammer and get to work, it's easier and more efficient to use a reciprocating saw. Begin by cutting between studs and pulling off large pieces of drywall by hand. Drywall tends to come off easier in large chunks than small ones. Use a small pry bar with a claw attachment for the more stubborn pieces. Remember to wear safety goggles and a breathing mask to avoid inhaling the fine chunks of drywall. Haul away the demolished drywall using construction-grade garbage bags.
The reciprocating saw is also great in removing studs. With a demolition blade installed, cut through the nails connecting the stud to the bottom plate. You can also cut the wood in half if you want to avoid removing the eight-foot-tall stud in one piece. The saw will also cut through the top and bottom plates, though you can also remove these with a good claw pry bar. Once the wall has been removed, roll up the pieces of plastic, taking special care to trap nail bits and other sharp objects.
Be extra careful when removing the demolished materials. Double-bagging the garbage bags is a great way to avoid accidents. You should also clean up as you progress through the project to prevent having to move everything at once. In addition to safety googles and a mask, consider wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants for extra protection. If the wall is large, then you may need to make a trip to your local dump to dispose of the materials.