Taking down a nonbearing wall

If you’ve had enough of being stuck between your four walls, this article is for you. Only a few basic tools are enough to take down a nonbearing wall.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
5 hours

1
Testing outlets for power

  • 1.1Turn off power to any outlets and switches at the service panel. Confirm that the panel is off with a voltage tester.
  • 1.2Insert the probes of a voltage tester into the outlets. If the tester light glows, the power is still on.
  • 1.3Unscrew and remove the outlet cover plates. Touch the tester probes to the terminal screws at the ends of the black and white wires, then the black wire and the green ground wire to make sure that it is turned off.
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Top tip

Each wall switch must be tested since it may be on separate circuit from outlets.

2
Testing switches for power

  • 2.1Remove the cover plate then unscrew the switch and gently free it from the electrical box.
  • 2.2Touch one probe of the voltage tester to the box, if it is metal, or the green ground wire, if the box is plastic, and touch the other probe of each brass terminal on the switch. If the tester light glows, the circuit supplying power to the switch is still on. Correct the problem at the service panel and test again.

3
Removing the trim

  • 3.1Tap the end of a pry bar with a hammer, between the shoe moulding and the baseboard, then pry the moulding away. Repeat until the shoe moulding is completely detached.
  • 3.2Repeat step 3.1 to remove the baseboard.
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Top tip

Ceiling and corner seams in most wallboard construction are sealed with tape and joint compound. To prevent tearing the surface of adjacent walls and ceiling these seams should be cut before taking down the wall.

4
Cutting taped seams

  • 4.1Slice through each corner seam, with a utility knife, beginning at the top. Repeat along the seam between the wall and the ceiling.

5
Taking down the wallboard

  • 5.1Protect the floor with cardboard or a drop cloth.
  • 5.2Locate the stud with a stud finder, then with a hammer, punch holes in the wallboard between the studs.
  • 5.3Insert the hook of a crowbar into the holes and pry away the wallboard in large pieces. Take care not to pull any wires – there may be live ones that don’t terminate at the switches or outlets you checked.
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Top tip

Wear safety goggles, work gloves, a dust mask and a hard hat to protect against dust and falling debris.

6
Removing the studs

At this point, if there is any electricity wiring running through the wall, have an electrician reroute it before you proceed. Likewise, have a plumber reroute any pipes or ducts.
  • 6.1With a reciprocating saw fitted with a wood and metal cutting blade, cut between each stud and the sole plate.
  • 6.2Pull each stud and twist it to free it from the top plate.

7
Taking out the end stud

  • 7.1Make a downward-angled cut through the stud with a reciprocating saw.
  • 7.2Tap the end of the pry bar into the cut, then pry off the lower section using the upper portion of the stud for leverage.
  • 7.3Pry out the remaining half of the end stud by bracing the bar against the studs behind it. Use a piece of scrap wood as leverage.

8
Removing the top plate

  • 8.1Repeat step 7.1
  • 8.2Tap the end of the pry bar into the cut and pry out the shorter section.
  • 8.3Use the hook of the pry bar to pull down the remaining section of the top plate.

9
Removing the sole plate

  • 9.1Repeat step 7.1
  • 9.2Tap a pry bar into the cut and remove the section closest to the wall. Pry out the other section using a wood scrap for leverage.
  • 9.3For finishing work, walls, floors and ceilings must be repaired.

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