How to Make a Room Larger by Knocking a Wall out
- Before you begin, ensure the wall you want to remove isn't load bearing. A number of indicators tell whether or not a wall is load bearing. Check the direction the joists in the attic travel. Load-bearing walls tend to be perpendicular to the attic joists. Once you've taken off the paneling or drywall, slap one of the wall studs firmly along the flat side. If the stud vibrates, it's not holding anything up; if it's firm, in all likelihood the wall is load bearing. You can still remove the wall, but you'll need to install a supporting beam before you remove all of the studs. If you have any doubt, consult with a structural engineer.
Plumbing and Wiring
- Electrical outlets on the wall make determining if you will have to reroute wiring fairly easy, but there may be wiring in the wall even if there are no outlets. Once you've removed the paneling, drywall, or other sheathing, whether or not there is plumbing or wiring to move will become clear. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself to building code, hire a plumber and electrician. Ask the electrician to repurpose some of the wiring for floor outlets where the wall used to be. You can use them for table lamps without having to run extension cords across the floor.
Removing the Wall
- If the walls were paneled, work the end of a pry bar under the edge and pull the sheets of paneling off. At least two schools of thought revolve around removing sheetrock or drywall. One suggests that the more intact the piece is when it comes off, the less cleanup there will be. Try working the pry bar around the screws or nails holding the drywall in place to see if you can get it to come off in one sheet. The second method is to use a sledgehammer to bash holes in the wall and then pull the sheetrock off in pieces. Keep a wheelbarrow or tarp ready to hold the pieces of sheetrock. Once the sheetrock is removed, use the sledgehammer to free the bottoms of the studs from the nails holding them in place, and pull the studs downward to release them from the nails in the header. If this doesn't work, use a reciprocating saw to cut the studs out. Remove the header and footer, if the wall had them, by working the pry bar into the space between the lumber and the floor or ceiling.
Finishing the Space
- In all likelihood the most difficult finish work to do after removing the wall is making the two sections of floor that were on either side of the wall match up or transition. If you need to add sheetrock to the wall, ensure there are studs to screw the sheetrock into. If there aren't studs, you'll need to remove some of the existing sheetrock on either side of the opening. Floor transitions are easier if you intend to lay carpet throughout the new larger room or install hardwood floors. If the wall had a footer that you removed, cut a piece of lumber to fit the spot in the floor that the footer was sunk into so you have a level transition from room to room.