How to Remove Drywall

holes and cracks in drywall
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-70
What You'll Need
Pry bar
Nail removal tool (optional)
Stud finder
Face mask
Safety glasses

When you are remodeling a house, you will often need to remove the drywall as part of the refurbishment. This can be a very messy and difficult job. On TV shows, you see people using sledgehammers to destroy their drywall. This is unnecessary and just a stunt for TV. In reality, you should be a lot more careful so you do not hit pipes and wiring.

WARNING: Remember that whenever you are cutting or damaging drywall you must wear a mask, gloves, closed-toe boots, and goggles, as the dust is very fine and may cause a health hazard if inhaled - it also tends to get into everything. Make sure all power is turned off in case you hit any electrical wiring.

Step 1 - Preparing for Removal

Make sure you know where any wiring or pipes are. Many DIYers use a stud finder to locate them. Once you've found and marked the wiring or pipes, remove any electrical outlets, moldings, and door frames as necessary. Close any cabinets or cupboards to stop the dust getting into them. You will also need to shut off the power to the room and turn off any air conditioners or heaters.

Step 2 - Removing the Sheets

You need to remove electrical outlets and all base and crown moldings with a pry bar. Be gentle with the bar if you are reusing the moldings. The drywall sheets will be nailed to vertical wood studs, spaced approximately 16 inches apart. A flat prybar can be used to pry away the panel bottom to allow you to remove these sheets whole. Put the bar just above a nail and gently pull the drywall sheet towards you. Repeat the process for each nail.

If your sheets are attached with drywall clips, pry them off gently. Either pry the clips off the studs, keeping them attached to the sheets, or pry the sheets off the clips, keeping the clips attached to the studs.

Step 3 - Removing Damaged Sheets

If the drywall sheets are damaged or you are not interested in removing them in whole pieces, try to locate any pipes or wiring behind them. If you are sure there is nothing behind the sheet, punch holes in it between the studs with a hammer. Make two holes in the sheet so that you can get a two-handed grip on it. Pull on the sheet to remove a large chunk of drywall off the nails. Continue along the wall using the same technique.

If you are only removing the lower section of drywall (rooms are usually done with two rows of sheets), bend the sheet up as high as you can and let drop. This should sever the seam attaching it to the upper sheet. If you have water damage, you will probably only be removing the lower panels.

Step 4 - Completing the Removal

Remove any drywall nails that are left on the studs using a prybar or nail removal tool. Rub the removal tool up and down all studs to find any nails that you may have missed. If the drywall was attached with clips, you can just unscrew the screws or remove the nails.