How to Enlarge a Doorway

By Jourdan Townsend

Older homes may have narrow doorways that today’s homeowners find difficult to maneuver. In some cases, someone in your home may be relegated to a wheelchair or a scooter and require larger than average doorways to move comfortably about the house. If you are widening every doorway in your home, it is prudent to hire a professional for the doorways in load-bearing walls. These walls will require major structural changes. But if you have construction experience, you can widen doorways in non-load-bearing walls yourself to save some time and money.

List of Items Needed

  • Reciprocating saw with 6 inch blade
  • Crowbar
  • 2 by 4 lumber
  • Handheld rotary tool fitted with a drywall cutting bit accessory
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall
  • Joint compound
  • Joint tape
  • Drywall mud
  1. Have a housing engineer examine the wall that contains the doorway. To widen the space, you will probably have to remove a wall stud or two. Do not proceed unless and until you have documentation that the wall is not load-bearing.

  2. Remove the door hinges and lift the door out of the frame. Discard the door and hinges if you are not reusing them elsewhere. Cut through the doorway frame at the bottom, parallel to the floor. Use a reciprocating saw with a 6 inch blade to detach the frame from the floor.

  3. Remove any nails or screws holding the doorway frame in place on both sides. Slide the edge of a small crowbar beneath the edge of one piece of the frame and pry it away from the wall. Remove the rest of the frame in this way.

  4. Determine in which direction you wish to widen the doorway. Remove any floor and ceiling molding on this side. Cut away the drywall so the bare studs are exposed using a handheld rotary tool fitted with a drywall cutting bit accessory and/or a utility knife. Mark the size of the new door and then cut the drywall along the lines. Also remove the drywall above the door.

  5. Cut out the existing header and the nearest exposed stud to the door. Measure to ensure the space is large enough for the new door. Remove a second stud if you require more room.

  6. Cut a new stud to the same length as the old ones and a new header with additional cripple studs long enough to accommodate the new door. Install the header. Measure to find where the new wall will begin and install the new stud at this point.

  7. Hang new drywall, apply joint compound and joint tape, and mud the new wall following standard drywall finishing methods. Let the wall dry for 24 to 48 hours. Install the doorway molding, trim and new door.

Tips and Warnings

  • Cover finished flooring to avoid damage.
  • Use caution when operating power tools.
  • Wear a dust mask when cutting, removing and sanding drywall.
  • Wear safety glasses when operating power tools.
  • Be wary of electrical wires when cutting walls.

© Demand Media 2011