How to Remove a Non-Load-Bearing Wall

Removing a non-load-bearing wall can open up rooms and create a more open floor plan. While it may seem daunting, it is actually a manageable project for an experienced DIYer. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove a non-load-bearing wall.

Determine if the Wall is Load-Bearing

The first step is to confirm that the wall you want to remove is definitely not load-bearing. Indicators that a wall is non-load-bearing include:

  • The wall runs parallel to ceiling joists or trusses rather than perpendicular.
  • There are no signs the wall is supporting any beams, posts, or roof rafters.
  • The wall does not have a supporting foundation under it.
  • The wall runs parallel with floor joists.

To be 100% sure, consult building plans or have a structural engineer assess the wall. Removing a load-bearing wall can lead to structural damage, so it’s critical to confirm before proceeding.

Prepare the Work Area

Once confirmed as non-load-bearing, prepare the workspace. This includes:

  • Clearing furniture, valuables, and any items away from the wall area.
  • Laying drop cloths to collect fallen debris.
  • Wearing proper safety gear like goggles, respirator mask, ear protection, dust mask, gloves, and steel-toe shoes.
  • Turning off power circuits that supply outlets, switches, and fixtures on the wall.

Proper preparation keeps you safe and contains the inevitable mess.

Outline the Wall Cut

Use a chalk line or laser level to outline the wall cut. Make sure to:

  • Account for studs, normally placed 16 inches apart.
  • Mark stud locations and plan your cuts accordingly.
  • Mark cut lines about 1/2 inch outside intended finish height/width.

Accurately outlining the demolition makes the actual removal much easier.

Cut Through Wall Finish

Using a drywall saw or oscillating tool with a wallboard blade, cut along the chalk line through just the wall finish down to the studs. Take care not to cut or damage existing electrical.

  • Cut vertically first, then horizontally.
  • Wear proper dust protection and ventilate the area.
  • Vacuum dust and debris frequently while cutting.

Cutting through the drywall, plaster, or other finish exposes the framing studs.

Cut Through Wall Framing

With the wall finish removed, use a reciprocating saw to cut through the exposed studs and framing along the same outlined cuts.

  • Use a bimetal blade for nail strikes.
  • Angle blade to avoid cutting electrical lines.
  • Support wall sections as you cut to prevent falling.
  • Vacuum debris during cutting.

Completing these cuts detaches the wall from surrounding framing.

Remove Wall Section

With framing cuts complete, remove the detached wall section.

  • Start by pulling upper section away from ceiling anchors.
  • Take down in segments, starting top then removing lower pieces.
  • Use pry bar if needed but avoid damage to existing walls.
  • Wear leather gloves to protect hands.
  • Place pieces in a debris pile and vacuum area again.

Removing the wall exposes the rest of the room it once divided.

Dispose of Debris

Properly dispose of all wall demolition debris.

  • Place large sections in bags first to contain dust and crumbs.
  • Haul all debris to a covered truck or trailer.
  • Make trips to the dump as needed to remove entirely from site.

Taking time to clean up thoroughly keeps the rest of the home or workspace clean.

Finish Edges

With the wall gone, refinish all surrounding edges.

  • Seal drywall edges with joint compound to prevent dust and deterioration.
  • Use metal corner bead to protect external corners.
  • Sand sealed edges smooth for a clean transition.
  • Vacuum all remaining dust once done.

Finishing the edges provides a clean opening ready for the next steps of your project, whether installing a header or finishing a new open concept.


How thick should the studs be on a non-load-bearing wall?

For most interior non-load-bearing walls, 2×4 studs spaced 16 inches on center are sufficient. This framing provides enough strength to handle drywall, insulation, utilities, and finish materials.

Can I tell if a wall is load-bearing by knocking on it?

No, knocking provides no reliable indication if a wall is load-bearing or not. You need to examine connections to joists, rafters, and foundation. Consult plans or an engineer to be sure.

Is it cheaper to remove or build around a non-load-bearing wall?

Removing is generally cheaper than building around, provided you do some of the removal work yourself. Hiring out full removal and rebuilding adds cost quickly.

What kind of saw do I need to cut wall studs?

A reciprocating saw with a bimetal demolition blade designed to cut nails is ideal. A circular saw can also work but may bind up on nails.

Is it OK to leave wood studs exposed after removing drywall?

No, exposed studs will deteriorate over time. Refinish all wood with drywall joint compound or other sealant after removing wall sections.


Removing a non-load-bearing wall takes planning, safety precautions, and step-by-step demolition technique but can greatly improve room layout when done correctly. Always exercise caution and be absolutely certain the wall is not load-bearing before proceeding. With care and patience, this project can enhance space and aesthetics in your home.