5 Things to Know About Removing Interior Walls
Last modified: 2019/01/02 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
Knocking down the walls of your home might seem like an exciting project to take on. However, don’t get hammer happy just yet! Breaking down interior walls is a delicate process that must be completed carefully. Improper removal could cause the ceiling or roof to collapse, or lead to problems including issues with plumbing, electricity, gas and ventilation.
Make sure that you’re certain about wanting to remove a wall, and if so, this DIY project can be easily completed by even the most novice of homeowners. Of course, it is important to keep a few things in mind and therefore, read on to find out:
5 things to know about removing interior walls
1- Load-bearing or not?
It is important to figure out how much weight a wall is carrying before moving forward with its destruction. The load-bearing capacity of a wall can be identified through its placement within a home or building. If the wall is close to the middle of the room and running perpendicular to the joists above, it is likely carrying a large amount of weight and is, therefore, probably a load-bearing wall.
If you can’t find the floor joists, they can generally be viewed from the basement or crawlspace. In addition, remember that a load-bearing wall on the first floor will extend up to the top floor of the house.
Load-bearing walls need extra attention if these are the ones you wish to remove. Posts, headers or even a temporary wall will need to be installed to replace these walls. The removal of load-bearing walls is best left to professionals, as although it is not a difficult project, a lot of heavy lifting is necessary. Further, to remove a load-bearing wall a permit may be required, so keep this in mind before donning that hard hat.
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2- Check for plumbing and electricity
source: Pixabay, Pexels
Of course, home interiors are composed of several pieces and parts. As a result, removing interior walls can be a tricky process, especially if they contain any form of plumbing, electrical outlets or HVAC vents. A straightforward way to check if your walls contain wiring, plumbing or ventilation is to go into your home’s basement, if accessible, and look to check where each of these enters the floor above.
If you find that the interior wall you are removing has any of these parts, it is necessary to proceed with caution. The main power of your home or building should be shut off before moving forward with the removal. Further, interior walls with power lines or plumbing hidden behind them should not be removed with a sledgehammer but should instead be carefully removed with a saw, cutting out the drywall to reveal the pipes or wires underneath.
3- Bear in mind the workload
Removing an interior wall might seem like fun and games once you’ve got the sledgehammer in hand, but as we’ve mentioned, this is a serious project. Taking out a wall can turn into a lot more work than was originally intended. Not only will the wall need to be attended to, but following this project the floor will likely need to be re-patched or depending on the damage, replaced.
If you’re working with hardwood, removing a wall is even harder, as patching hardwood floorboards is difficult, and this style floor will still have to be refinished. Also, don’t forget to look up and take the ceiling into consideration! The ceiling will need to be tended to, patched and likely repainted. Taking these things into consideration will allow you to adjust your budget accordingly.
4- Space and size
source: Pixabay, nuc7ear
First, not every wall in your home can be removed. As we’ve mentioned, load-bearing walls are incredibly difficult to take down but often, it is difficult to determine whether a wall is load-bearing or not. This includes exterior walls, certain basement walls and walls running the length of your house. Except for exterior walls, which are load bearing in most homes, the removal of walls will be case-specific.
Further, removing a wall in a one-storey home is quite different from removing a wall in a two-story home. If you are removing a wall in a two-story home, it is recommended that you speak with an expert, especially a structural engineer. When removing walls in a two-story home, an excessive amount of stress will be placed on the first floor.
5- Plan and prepare
After reading through our tips for removing interior walls, it should be evident that the planning process is half the battle. You’ll need to keep in mind that this project can’t be completed in an afternoon, and it should be given the time and attention it deserves. Plan for the wall removal to take at least two weeks, and this does not include the time it will take to repair flooring and finishing touches on the ceiling.
Further, if you’ve been planning on redoing your floors, you could combine these two projects and complete the wall removal at the same time. Also, bear in mind that this is a messy project, so consider other living options, such as camping out at a friend's or relative's house, or if you’re feeling luxurious, a hotel.
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