mediterranean Kitchen by Alex Gasca, architects.

6 things to keep in mind while pulling down a wall

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Older houses that were built half a century ago are characterized by narrow, long corridors and room partitions that are often catastrophic. We must recognize that over time, our expectations from today's homes have changed. In a society in which we attach great importance to socialising and leisure time, open spaces that are seamlessly connected with each other are essential in a modern home. 

Hence, in practically every old apartment renovation, demolishing a wall is commonly undertaken to create larger rooms. This process, simple as it may seem, requires a series of work licenses, permissions and bureaucratic procedures, which make the entire process tedious.

Pulling down a wall can be a very simple, and sometimes even relaxing task. We give you the perfect guide so you do not miss any of the vital details.

Partition or load-bearing wall?

The first step in demolishing a wall is to check its thickness as this will guide us about the amount of work that will need to be undertaken and whether it is a simple partition or a load-bearing wall that serves an important structural function in the house. 

If the room has a door, window or any other type of opening, it will only take a matter of seconds to ascertain the thickness of the wall by measuring the width of the jamb or the frame of the door or window. If it is less than 10 or 15 centimetres thick, then it is a partition that can be easily demolished.

If, on the contrary, there is no way to calculate the thickness by measuring an opening, a trick can be to strike the base of the wall with the fist. If the sound is hollow, it is most likely that it is a partition. However, when in doubt, consult with a professional.

If we find a load-bearing wall, the amount of it that we demolish should be limited to less than five feet in width, and there should be at least a one-metre section of a wall in between two openings.

What will we find while demolishing interior walls?

Once we have ensured that the wall we want to demolish is not a load-bearing one, we can find different solutions for how to pull down a partition depending upon its construction and the materials used to build it.

If it is a plasterboard wall, the task will not take too long, since we can cut it open with a saw, preferably between two vertical columns. Once this is done, the sides can be reinforced by fixing wedges between the panels, on the contour of the cut, to form the interior frame.

If it is a plaster and brick partition, we will have to use a large diameter disk cutter to make a hole in the wall. In such cases, first we need to prepare the room where the work is being carried out as it will cause a lot of dust that can spoil the furniture. Additionally, do not forget that using a cutter comes with risks, so protect yourself with gloves and glasses.

Don’t forget the cables and pipes

When demolishing interior walls, we must be familiar with the plans of the home since it will outline whether, or not, the partitions that we want to pull down are load-bearing walls, as well as if they have water or gas pipes running through them. We must also pay attention to the electrical wiring.

If the wall has electrical wiring, it will be essential to cut the supply before starting any demolition work, and to move the wires. In the case of water pipes, the replacement ones must be placed ensuring that the water reaches the drains directly.

When in doubt, disconnect all water, gas and electrical connections to maximize safety while working.

Work methodically to minimise damage

modern Kitchen by Room Global
Room Global

Reforma vivienda en el Barrio de Gracia en Barcelona

Room Global

While the idea of releasing your stress and frustration by hammering a brick wall may seem appealing, you need to be very careful and take protective measures before pulling down a wall. Although the walls of the house are built as separate pieces, which means that one can be pulled down without affecting the general structure, the truth is that cracks can show up in the adjacent walls as a result of the hammering, so it’s best to take precautions and think things through. 

The second most important thing is to have protection, including glasses to prevent dirt falling into the eyes, gloves to keep the hands safe and preferably use a mallet.

First, make cuts at different angles on the partition that you want to pull down, thus preventing the paint from falling. It is always advisable to start from the top and work your way down to make sure that parts of the wall don’t come crashing because there is no support for the bricks.

After the demolition

Once we have finished demolishing interior walls or have opened a section of a load-bearing wall, it is essential to place a lintel to support the wall that would have become weak. Regardless of the material that the wall is built with, a structural reinforcement will be necessary, and will be even more relevant, the wider the opening in the wall is. 

Most of the beams that we find in the market are made of metal or prefabricated concrete and must be embedded within the wall at least at 15 centimetres depth, although this measurement will need to be increased if the opening is larger.

This spectacular apartment has a large living room that connects with the main entrance and the kitchen. The open plan was created by pulling down a wall, which previously closed the room, and installing a practical glass sliding door.

Practical tips for a high-quality result

One of the main consequences of demolishing interior walls is the great amount of dust and dirt that result. So, it is vital that you protect the furniture in the rooms or empty them. 

You should also discard the debris by collecting them in bags rather than throwing them in the nearest garbage bin. Usually, the debris should be deposited in a special bin or container that has been set up for the purpose by the municipality or corporation. To make the process easier, collect the pieces of the broken wall and dispose them from time to time, instead of letting them accumulate. 

In addition, to avoid any setbacks while we are pulling down a wall, we must get the required sanctions, plan the work methodically, and get the necessary permissions and work licenses for the changes that we propose to make.

See 6 pictures of renovation projects that will leave you speechless, for inspiration for renovating your old house.

Do you prefer modern open-plan homes or old bungalows? Let us know in the comments.
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