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Pro Tips and Tricks for Taking Out a Wall. Oh! & Removing a Pocket Door


After 8 months can I say how nice it is? It’s so nice to be back in a house again. Yep this is a picture of our new lil’ yellow monster – a one-story slab on grade ranch. It is pretty rare in these parts (Illinois).

While rare in these parts, I happen to know quite a lot about them. One of the nice items for many of them including this one is that none of the interior walls are load bearing which brings us to this post.

My Tips, Tricks & How to Take Out a Wall.

This wall …

The wall in question – granted this side doesn’t look too difficult apart a light switch and an outlet that would have to be moved. The other side, however, had some cabinets I had to remove.

Taking Out a Wall

*Removing Drywall :: Quick Tip

Make sure you score (with a utility knife) the paint (at the ceiling intersection) first or when you start pulling things apart, you will be pulling finishes off areas you probably don’t want to.

Granted I knew where the electrical was but I still always cut out an exploratory hole before go at removing the wallboard.

 Why check? Well for one reason I found this buried in a weird location right next to an abandoned gas line

*Looking Inside Walls :: Quick Tip

Got a smart phone or one with a camera? Make the hole large enough & snap a picture.

I generally open up the exploratory hole to about the 4 foot mark which makes it easier to continue opening up the wall while checking the rest out.

Even if everything is clear, I prefer to remove the drywall by hand instead of just sawzalling a wall in half and I generally do this one side at a time.

*Removing Molding :: Quick Tip

Want to just remove the molding without damaging the wall? Score the paint & use a putty knife to protect the wall from the pry bar.

*Removing Trim :: Quick Tip

Interested in saving the molding, use a painters 5-in-1 tool to pop the molding off the wall. Then, pull any nails out from the back instead of driving them through the front.

This is with the other side of the drywall removed.

Make sure you evaluate any potential issues and address them. In this case I simply pulled the nails clear and left the electrical to an electrician.

*Removing the Framing :: Quick Tip

While one could just smash away with a hammer to knock the studs out or simply cut them in half, I prefer to simply use my sawzall to cut the nails holding the studs to the bottom plate.

 With a little wiggling, you can generally separate the stud from the top plate with no issues.

Depending on how your plates are connected, a few taps with a hammer, using a pry bar, or simply sliding a sawzall blade between the plate & floor / ceiling joists will free the plates up. If you have an attic above you might consider popping in the attic first & sweeping the insulation away from the area you will be working on.

Now all that is left is to patch the drywall, and eventually maybe I will get around to texturing the ceiling.

Bonus – How to Remove a Pocket Door

Can I seriously ask who actually thought these were a good thing? Needless to say, I had some cabinets to move but I couldn’t mount them to a wall with a pocket door in it, so…

Fortunately, whoever installed this never covered the screws holding the molding to the door, though in most cases they are simply finish-nailed on.

To start, pull the molding off of one side of the door opening.

This then exposes the latches (or nuts to loosen) allowing the door to be removed.

In this case, I simply measured how far back into the wall the door sat and I ran the sawzall blade around the opening.

This is a shot of the top of the pocket door frame to show you how they are installed. After this, I simply removed the drywall from the other side and pulled the frame out. Later I re-framed and re-drywalled the opening.


This article featured the process for removal a wall clad in drywall. For more info on removing plaster walls, see our article – The Best Way to Remove Plaster. For info on removing a load bearing wall, perhaps this article from This Old HouseHow to Remove a Load Bearing Wall.

That’s it, hope it helps & oh … wish me luck. For more remodeling high jinks, check out Building Moxie‘s Remodeling category.  ~Sean

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