Removing a stud wall
1. Begin by removing the surface material – the plaster and plasterboard, or lath and plaster – and pulling any nails from all the studs. Next, ensure water and electrics are turned off, remove wiring or plumbing from the wall and cap pipes and terminate circuits. An electrician and plumber are likely to be needed for these jobs.
2. Cut through all the studs a couple of inches up from the floor, except the end ones. Pull the upper sections of the studs free from the top plate, then use a hammer to knock the short bottom sections of the studs free before prying them up and removing any remaining nails.
3. Make a diagonal cut through each end stud on a downward angle and, starting with the lower one, pull out the two sections.
4. Remove the top plate first by making a diagonal cut across it, then using a crowbar to pull downwards. If the top plate goes through an adjoining wall, then cut it flush with that wall’s top plate.
5. Finally, remove the bottom plate in the same way.
Removing a loadbearing wall
NB: This is only a job to be undertaken by an experienced DIYer only and one that should ideally be advised upon by a professional. Many loadbearing walls contain electrics and plumbing which will need to be dealt with by professionals in the field.
1. When making an opening in a supporting wall, it is necessary to transfer the weight above to a beam, or to a lintel. If you are planning on opening up a supporting wall, bear in mind that the wall you intend to open up may not just be supporting the weight of the wall above it — there could be floor joists or roofing beams and rafters fixed into the wall, too. The weight of whatever the wall is supporting needs to be a top consideration when calculating the size of the lintel you will need to support it.
2. The load above the wall must be supported at all times and support must be in place before you start any work at all. The most common way of doing this is by drilling holes as close to the ceiling as you can and inserting very strong steel ‘needles’ at two-foot centres across the full width of the opening. The needles must run either side of the wall by 18 inches.
3. Once the needles are in place, a timber known as a ‘head tree’ should be placed underneath them at each side of the wall. The head tree should be held up by props at two-foot centres.
4. Once the supports are in place, you can cut out the section for your lintel to be inserted. This opening should be 12 inches wider than the opening you are making in the wall, to allow the lintel to sit on at least six inches of masonry either side of the new opening. Once the lintel is in place, the masonry can be rebuilt and this may involve forcing in some sand and cement mortar and even some roofing slate.
5. Once the lintel is in place and the sand and cement have hardened, the needles and props can be removed and the opening can be cut.
Paul Clamp of Paul Clamp Plastering Ltd, who carried out the pictured project (ABOVE), also advises: “Use a garden sprayer with a fine mist to keep dust to a minimum. It is surprising how much dust and debris soon builds up.”
- Before removing any walls, you should ideally seek advice from a structural engineer.
- When removing a loadbearing wall, the weight above must be supported in another way — usually by a steel lintel.
- Advise your local authority of your intended work, as the alterations may require Building Control approval.