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Your Guide to Removing an Interior Wall

Everything You Need to Know to Confidently Knock Down a Wall

If you’ve been daydreaming about having a clear view from your kitchen into your living room, removing a wall may be your next home project. This job takes some research and careful planning, so you should set aside at least a week for the preparation, demolition and repair. 

Here’s what you need to know about creating an open-concept floor plan.

How Much Does It Cost to Take Down a Wall?

Removing a non-load bearing wall will run you between $300 to $1,000 according to HomeAdvisor.com. Cost factors include the size of the wall, expert advice and repairs to your ceiling, floor and adjacent walls post-removal. 

What to Expect if Your Wall Holds Weight

If your wall is load bearing, tearing it down is a bigger job in a few ways. It will cost you between $3,200 and $10,000 or potentially more, depending on the scope of the job and if your home is multi-level. In most cases when removing a load bearing wall, you will have to replace support from where the wall was with a horizontal structural beam or a horizontal structural beam and post. This should not be done without professional assistance. 

Identifying if the wall you want to knock down is load bearing is the most important step before beginning this project. If it’s a load bearing wall, consult with a structural engineer to ensure you are going about the project safely. 

What Else to Look for Inside Your Wall

Now is the time to figure out what’s inside your wall and safely prepare to knock it down. Walls that contain HVAC vents, plumbing or electrical should be removed with caution. 

If your wall has an electrical outlet, hire an electrician. Hiring a professional is usually the safest option. This also applies to any piping or ventilation in your walls. Have a contractor to eliminate, move or cap off any utilities to avoid damage or code violations.

Safety Tip: If your home was built before 1978, make sure to take proper precautions to assess your walls for asbestos and lead paint. 

Will I Need a Permit?

Getting a permit to knock down a wall varies from city to city. The rule of thumb to follow is that if it’s not a structural wall, a permit probably isn’t required. 

Now, let’s get started with the main event.

How to Tear Down a Wall in 5 Steps

Step 1: Collect the Right Materials for the Job

Before you start demolition, make sure you have all the necessary tools and safety gear on-hand. 

Tools and Equipment Needed to Remove a Wall

Tools: Safety Gear:
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Sledgehammer
  • Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Stud Finder
  • Electric Drill
  • Utility Knife
  • Safety Glasses
  • Work Gloves
  • Respirator Mask
  • Drop Cloths

Materials Needed to Patch Your Ceiling and Floor Post-Wall Removal

  • Drywall
  • Drywall Compound
  • Drywall Tape 
  • Drywall Screws
  • 2x2 Inch Wood Strips
Man removing wall wearing respirator mask.

 

Step 2: Prepare to Tear Down Your Wall

Once you have everything you need to start your project, it’s time to get to work. Following these steps to get ready to remove that wall:

  1. Recruit some help to assist you with demolition of the wall. 
  2. Cover vents, windows and other fixtures to protect from debris.
  3. Create partition with cloth or plastic between other rooms to shield them from traveling dust.
  4. Remove any doors, trim and baseboards with your pry bar and hammer.
  5. Consider renting a dumpster to handle cleanup since curbside collection will not accept construction debris. 

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Step 3: Begin Wall Demolition

Once you’ve determined your wall isn’t load bearing and doesn’t have any important plumbing or electrical running through it, the fun part begins – demolition.

  1. Outline the area you are tearing down with a pencil if you are only removing a section of the wall.
  2. Cut the junction with a utility knife between the wall you want to remove, the ceiling and other adjacent walls.
  3. Create a small starter hole in the drywall with a sledgehammer.
  4. Remove panels of drywall from between studs using your reciprocating saw.
  5. Get rid of insulation if you encounter it, however it’s unlikely for interior walls.
  6. Remove drywall from the other side of the wall once all the drywall is removed from the first side. Stay on the same side to see the studs and cut accurately.

Pro Tip: Cut sections that you can remove in large, single pieces. And to save yourself from a tripping hazard and cleanup later, take them out to the dumpster as you remove.

Step 4: Cut and Remove Studs and Plates 

Cut through the studs at the bottom of the wall with a reciprocating saw. Ask one of your volunteers to help by holding the stud in place as you cut. Once you have cut through the stud and nails, pull it out. 

When all the studs are gone, you'll need to remove the top and base plates. Use the pry bar to remove the top plate first. Have your helper hold the top plate in place so it doesn’t fall, and repeat the same process to get rid of the base. 

Step 5: Repair Your Ceiling and Floor

Now that you’ve cleared the way, it’s time to start bringing your space together. 

Patch the Ceiling Where the Wall Was Removed

  1. Insert wood strips across the hole so they lay in the ceiling to bridge the gap. Screw both ends of each strip to the existing ceiling with the drill to make sure they are secure.  
  2. Cut a piece of drywall a quarter of an inch smaller than the hole and secure it to the strips using screws.
  3. Spread drywall compound around the edges of the patched hole. Push drywall tape into the wet compound, then add another layer of compound and smooth it out. 
  4. Repeat this process to patch the wall depending on the placement of the wall you removed.
  5. Apply drywall sealer and primer to finish.

Pro Tip: Repaint your whole ceiling to guarantee a cohesive appearance.

Repair Your Floor

  1. Carpet or Linoleum: If you can easily match your carpet or linoleum with scraps you have on-hand, you can fix the exposed patch or hire a professional to repair the hole.
  2. Hardwood: Older hardwood floors are difficult to patch between rooms because the wood will be harder to match.  

For either of these repairs, to make sure your flooring looks seamless, consider hiring a professional for the job. 

Pro Tip: If you plan to redo your floors, pick the best flooring option for your family in the new open space. There are many options for family-friendly floors that hold up over time. Hardwood, carpet or bamboo are some of the popular options to consider. 

Time to Enjoy Your New Space

Removing an interior wall can totally transform a space by allowing more natural light to shine through and making your home seem larger overall.  

Need to organize your new open space? Stop clutter in it’s tracks with these 6 clutter-free living ideas