There comes a time in every drywall’s life when it needs to be replaced, either due to a room renovation, sustained damage, or a water leak. When faced with a drywall needing removal, there’s no need to panic, as it’s one of the easier DIY projects to do.
To remove drywall, follow these steps: Remove all electrical trim and obstacles before cutting the seam between the drywall and ceiling. Saw the bottom half of the drywall horizontally before pulling off the bottom part from the wooden studs. Cut the top half down the middle and remove the two halves.
When you remove drywall, it helps to do it systematically. For safety reasons, you must ensure that all electricity flowing through the drywall area is turned off before you start. Cutting into live electricity wires can lead to electrocution and additional DIY fixes. When removing drywall, the following eight steps will ensure you do it as efficiently and hassle-free as possible.
Top Tip: Before you start to remove drywall, it’s critically important that you switch off all the utilities (power, gas, and water) to the specific area that you will be working on. Shutting utilities off completely ensures optimum safety in the event that you unintentionally cut through electrical wiring or plumbing pipes.
- Utility knife
- Pry bar
- Drywall saw
- Safety goggles
- Safety gloves (optional)
- Step ladder
Step 1: Remove Electrical Trim
After switching off the electricity supply to the drywall area, you need to look for any electricity outlets located in the drywall, such as electric switches, thermostats, and receptacles. Take the screwdriver and loosen and remove any electrical outlet covers.
Remove the mounting screw of the electrical outlet (situated in the middle of the surface ears) beneath the cover. Twist the unit in a horizontal position to ensure that the electrical unit is not snagged and damaged when you remove the drywall.
Be sure to look for any other signs of electricals, as you have to be careful of wiring inside the wall when you proceed to saw through the drywall in later steps.
When you have electrical outlets in the wall, you can assume that the wiring is either coming down from the top of the wall or up from the floor, so be extra careful when sawing in these areas.
Step 2: Remove Obstacles From the Drywall
It's very important to remove any obstacles on the drywall that may interfere with the removal process. An example of an obstacle is a cold-air return grill typically situated at the bottom of a drywall installation.
These grills will overlap the drywall and need to be removed with the help of a screwdriver, as leaving it in place when ripping off the drywall will result in the grill bending and damaging. Baseboards and ceiling moldings are another set of obstacles that you must remove.
Use a pry bar or any other prying tool, and slowly pry connected baseboards and ceiling moldings from the drywall. These moldings are usually fitted with nails, so it's best to work from nail to nail when prying them loose.
Important Tip: Suppose you want to reuse the moldings. Take the utility knife and score the seam between the drywall and ceiling moldings, which will prevent breakage when removing these elements.
Step 3: Cut the Seam Between the Drywall and the Ceiling
Time to grab a sharp utility knife and a pair of safety goggles, climb on the small step ladder, and position yourself close to the corner where the ceiling and drywall meet.
Usually, when drywall is finished up, a corner bead of paper is used between the drywall and ceiling to ensure no cracking in this conjoined area.
The idea is to take the utility knife and cut the corner line between the drywall and ceiling as far as the drywall extends.
Do this a couple of times to ensure that when the drywall is removed, it doesn't rip the whole corner bead off, which can lead to ceiling damage that will result in an additional DIY ceiling repair project.
Step 4: Choose A Sawing Spot
Choose a spot approximately 3 to 4 feet from the floor. Draw a small line where you will cut the drywall with the drywall saw. To find a spot without any obstruction behind the drywall, start knocking on the crude line you have drawn with the saw.
A dull thud indicates that there could be some obstruction behind the drywall, such as a wooden stud or maybe some plumbing. Knock on the drywall until you hear a
hollow sound. A hollow sound is indicative that the immediate knocked-on area is clear of any inner obstructions.
Step 5: Use the Drywall Saw and Make a Cutting Hole
When satisfied with a hollow area on the crude cutting line, proceed to put the point of the drywall saw against the drywall. Stab it slowly with the palm of your hand until the point breaks through the drywall, leaving a cutting hole.
Step 6: Cut the Drywall
Once the drywall saw's point has punctured the drywall, you can start to cut a line to the other end of the wall. The line that you cut with the saw doesn’t need to be dead straight. The important thing is to cut the whole drywall from one side to the other.
As you start sawing away, making your way across the drywall, you will notice when you have reached an inside obstacle (wooden stud).
By flattening out the angle of the drywall saw and keeping the blade out instead of using perpendicular motions, you minimize the risk of cutting through any wires and other unknowns that may be inside the drywall close to the wooden stud.
When the saw is angled across, the blade will pass through the drywall connected to the stud without getting snagged, as it would when you use deeper strokes. When you have made your way to the outside corner, you will feel the blade hit an unseen metal corner bead.
It would be best if you stopped sawing when this point is reached. Ensure that the cutting line extends from one corner to the other, with both unseen metal corner beads touched by the drywall saw.
Step 7: Use the Prying Tool to Create a Gap for the Hammer
In this step, we are going to start removing the drywall. Take the pry bar (or a flat bar) and insert it into the line you sawed by tapping it with the hammer. Ensure that the entry point is between studs.
By tilting the pry bar up, it should create a wide gap. Be careful not to get your fingers in here, as the returning drywall will pinch your fingers as soon as the pry bar is removed.
Step 8: Insert the Hammer’s Backside in the Gap and Loosen the Drywall
Take your hammer and insert the backside (hook) in the gap. Move the hammer's backside along the gap and wedge the hammer up every couple of inches. Doing this should loosen the drywall from any adhesive or nails used in the sawed area.
Step 9: Place Your Fingers in the Gap in the Drywall
Drywalls are fastened with nails and adhesives. After loosening the bottom part of the drywall, it's time to put your fingers in the gap to test if you can start pulling and removing the drywall from the studs.
Step 10: Choose a Corner And Start Removing The Drywall
Using safety gloves is optional in this step. Choose a corner and start pulling in a downward motion to test if you can indeed pull the drywall off the studs without the need to loosen screws or nails first.
Step 11: Remove the Whole Bottom Half of the Drywall
If you’re lucky, the whole drywall comes off in one piece when you start removing it. If it doesn’t and breaks or tears into pieces, you must systematically make your way from one side to the other and remove all of the drywall.
You can remove hard-to-remove drywall pieces on studs using the pry bar or hammer hook. This step is done when you have removed all the drywall, exposing the wooden studs.
Step 12: Cut a Parallel Line Through the Top Half of the Drywall
With the bottom half of the drywall fully removed, it's time to turn your attention to the remaining top half. Take the step ladder and position it in the center of the remaining top half of the drywall.
Ascend the ladder, insert the drywall saw into the drywall approximately 4 inches from the ceiling, and cut a line through to the bottom. Finding an appropriate spot is made easier by the fact that you can now see the wooden studs.
Step 13: Remove the Top Half Of The Drywall
Proceed to remove the top halves of the drywall by peeling them away from the bottom up and work your way up to the ceiling area. You can grip the bottom parts of the drywall with your hands and pull upwards. The drywall should come off as easily as the bottom part did.
Because you cut the seam between the ceiling and drywall in step 2, the drywall should come loose without any hassle and not cause any damage to the ceiling area in the removal process.
After removing all the drywall, you need to remove any screws or nails with either a screwdriver or the hook of the hammer.
wikiHow: How to Remove Drywall