Load-Bearing Walls – Steps for Removing Them
Removing your home’s walls can help open up the space and give it a new life. However, you want to protect your property’s structure as you do so. Follow these steps to safely remove load-bearing walls.
1. Get the Right Permits
Before you start the project, make sure you obtain a building permit for removing load-bearing walls. They are required for projects that involve changing the structure of your residence. To apply, you will need to file an application with your local building department. You also must submit your plans for the construction project. Consider hiring a professional architect to ensure the proposal is up to code.
Then the officials will review your plan and application. If it’s approved, all departments will sign off and you’ll be issued a permit. Along with your application, you will pay a fee. It will cost between $500 and $2,000 to greenlight your remodeling project. Also, keep in mind you will need to schedule regular inspections.
3. Install Temporary Braces
Once you have acquired the necessary permits, you can begin construction. Before removing the wall, construct temporary supports to hold up the ceiling. To build this structure, measure for the studs and then place the center one first. Also, make sure the studs fit snugly into place. If you have to pound them with a hammer, they may need to be trimmed.
4. Remove the Wall
The next step is to carefully remove your wall’s plaster and wood lath using a reciprocating saw. You want to get down to the bare studs. Before you start, make sure to turn off any electrical circuits. Also, wear safety gear, such as a dust mask or work boots. To prevent cracks, cut the plaster where you want the demolition to stop.
When cleaning up the plaster, be sure to use heavy-duty garbage bags. Then you want to tear off the lath board. Try using a hook or wrecking bar to remove full sections of lath. Also, watch your step to prevent any nail-related injuries.
5. Take Out the Original Studs
Once you remove the barrier, use a saw to cut through the wall directly above each stud. Then remove them from the opening. Use a reciprocating saw with a demolition blade to get the best results. You want to cut between the bottom plate and bottom stud. This will free the post so that you can pry it from the nails above.
6. Build or Buy a Header
To replace the removed portion of your wall and provide stability, you want to insert a header. First, you will need to construct one. You can do this using two plywood beams sandwiched around filler strips. Another option is to pick up a header from your local home improvement store. These come in a variety of materials, from solid wood to engineered wood.
Consider using laminated veneer lumber (LVL) for better support. LVL is a type of engineered wood made from thin layers glued together at high pressure. They usually run perpendicular to the load.
Along with the materials, you also want to find the correct size. You can use span tables to determine the allowable distance your beam can cover. This will depend on many factors, such as deflection limit and type of load. It’s also a good idea to consult a contractor to ensure you have accurate measurements.
7. Install the Header
Before adding the beam, nail the filler block to the jack stud. You then want to screw the jack stud to the king stud. Once the block is in place, apply a layer of construction adhesive to the back of the plaster. You want to place it along with the header’s opening. When finding the right adhesive, consider factors like surface type and drying time.
Then you can place the header. You want to install extra jacks inside the opening to give the beam something to rest on.
8. Secure New Studs
Once the support structure is up, hammer the new framing into place. Then nail the jack studs to the king studs on both sides of the wall. Make sure you’re marking where you will hammer the nail. Also, hold the tool in your dominant hand and hit the nail in the center. Before moving on, check the other side to ensure the pin didn’t go through.
9. Remove the Temporary Braces
The final step is taking down the temporary braces. To do this, use a multitool equipped with a half-moon blade to cut the drywall. Then use a pry bar or hammer to pull out the screws. During this process, you want to protect your floors from any damage. So, lay down a piece of cardboard or plywood.
10. Prepare Your Walls for Painting
Once you have completed the demolition project, you can start thinking about decorating. Painting is a great way to add a fresh look to your space. It can also increase the resale value of your home.
Before you can start painting, make sure you clean the area. Use a sponge and warm water to remove any dirt from the walls. Also, check for signs of mildew that could cause problems later on.
When choosing your paint color, consider one of these more popular hues:
- Dusty charcoal
- Whites and creams
- Navy blue
11. How to Safely Remove Load-Bearing Walls
Removing a portion of your wall can be a complex task. However, it can also make space feel more welcoming. Follow these steps to remove your load-bearing walls successfully and enjoy a reinvigorated space in your home.
In case you need any more information or assistance, feel free to contact us.
Rose Morrison is an AEC industry writer and the managing editor of Renovated. To read more of her work, check out her site.