How to Tear Out an Interior Wall

By Brian Baer

Home remodeling can often involve the removal of interior walls to open up or modify spaces. Care must be taken to ensure it is not a load-bearing wall. This can be done by checking in the attic or basement to see if the wall is perpendicular to floor or attic joists. It could be load-bearing if this is the case. For example, if the ceiling joists are all aligned north-south in their orientation and the wall in question is aligned east-west, the wall is like to be load-bearing. Load-bearing walls should not be removed, as the building's structural integrity could be compromised. You can remove an entire wall quickly with a sledgehammer and crow bar or cut out just a portion of the wall for removal.

List of Items Needed

  • Goggles
  • Crow bar
  • Sledgehammer
  • Cutting tools

    Sledgehammer and Crow Bar Method

  1. Determine if there are any electrical or plumbing components in the wall. This could include light switches and electrical outlets or wiring and pipes hidden inside the wall cavities. Turn off the power to any electrical circuits in the area.

  2. Cut along the edges where the wall meets adjacent walls or ceiling surfaces, and remove all drywall or other surface finish from the wall framing.

  3. Locate a stud in the wall. Hit the stud near the bottom with the sledgehammer, using a smooth swinging motion. Continue to hit the stud until it dislodges from the bottom plate. The bottom plate is the horizontal board to which the studs are attached. Hit the top of the stud with the hammer until it comes free from the top plate. Repeat this for all vertical studs.

  4. Pry the bottom and top plates from the floor and framing above, using the crow bar. Loosen the boards with the sledgehammer if necessary. Remove all debris.

    Saw Method

  1. Determine if there are any electrical or plumbing components in the wall. This could include light switches and electrical outlets or wiring and pipes hidden inside the wall cavities. Turn off the power to any electrical circuits in the area.

  2. Locate a wall studs at each side of the removal area. Cut away the drywall by following along the stud with a drywall saw or a rotary tool. Also cut along the edges where the drywall meets the ceiling and adjacent walls. Remove the drywall to exposes the wall framing in the removal area.

  3. Saw through the studs in the removal area, cutting approximately 4 inches from either end to avoid any nails or screws. Remove the studs from the bottom and top wall plates.

  4. Cut through the plates within the removal area, then pry them up with a crow bar. Loosen the boards with the sledge hammer if necessary. Remove all debris.

Tips and Warnings

  • Consult a qualified building professional if you have any question about whether the wall to be removed is load-bearing.

© Demand Media 2011