Tag Archives: Wall Removal

Woody the Woodchuck

10 Jun

Turns out, when you remove a wall there is some patching to do on the flip side of the coin. Wall patching, floor patching, yep and yep. A la this little beaut. There is definitely a hole there ūüėČ With a matching gap on the other side. Twinsies.

How to patch wood floor

Patching Wood Floor

When we went shopping for the mudding materials, we came back with a few extra essentials. While we were shopping, I saw Jay start to slowly ebb toward the power tools section (never good). We were in the market for an air compressor and nail gun, and although I was *hoping* to find one on craigslist, we landed up getting a shiny new one instead.

Why you ask, well, because there was a crazy-licous Memorial Day sale where the nail gun compressor kit was marked down $100, meaning only $150 green backs had to be exchanged for this new power house. Overall, for the use we are going to get out of this beast, I’ll call that a good use of our simolions. So, Jay got his new tool, and in turn, I got Jay to do some projects around here the man had been dragging his feet on. All in the name of getting a new power tool – man – he knows how to manipulate ūüėČ

Bostitch Air Compressor and Nail Gun

Bostitch Air Compressor

So, power tool in hand, we set off to remedy our little gap of a problem. We needed more wood to patch this baby up. Not a lot of wood, but turns out it’s hard to find little batches of red oak. We probably needed 4 square feet of wood, but we had to buy it in a 20sq foot bundle. Bummer. The good news, we now know we have ample wood in case things go screwy along the way. The bad, the wood came in over budget. In all honesty I’m kind of at the point where I’m sad if things go over budget, but I am also reaching my delirium point with this whole reno, where I just let Jay add things to the shopping cart, so we can just get the project done. I want my kitchen back, I want a dining room to eat dinner at, I want to not have an inch of dust covering my floor when I get up each morning. So $60 vs $20 right now, grumble grumble, whatever.

How to patch wood floor

Red Oak Floor

Speaking of just throwing things into the shopping cart, look at Jay’s handy new set of chisels. I think Jay’s long lost calling is as a sculptor. Grab this man a beret cause he pretty much thought he was Michelangelo. Sans naked sculpted people. And just run with the beret reference, I know, these fancy hats are probably before¬†his time but I think artist and I think beret. Roll with it.

Kobalt Wood Chisel Set

Wood Chisel

I kept walking into the room with Jay all focused on his new art form and listening to my husband say things like – this is so relaxing, I love chiseling wood, can we do more of these projects. I could here the angels singing. Music to my ears, grasshopper.

The first step in this covert little operation was to measure where we wanted the wood piece to end at. ¬†We used our level to make sure that the line was as straight as a whistle. No crooked boards here. Also, another little tip. We tried to stagger each board we cut, so that all the wood didn’t end at the same spot. We wanted the new pieces to look as intentional (and original) as possible, so changing end location helped to achieve this.

How to patch wood floor

Measuring Wood

The next step, well this one freaked me out a little. I knew that the pieces of wood had to come up, but still, taking a screw driver to my wood floor was not my vision of progress. More like mutilation. But, it had to be done, so Jay proceeded as I watched and waited on baited breath. You want to screw 2-3 holes right along the line where you plan to have your piece of wood end. Drilling the holes helps to prevent the wood from splitting as you lift up the board, and defines a clear ending point.

How to patch wood floors

Screwing Hole

Once you’ve added 2-3 holes in the wood, you can start to pry up each piece a bit with a crowbar and rubber mallet. If you put in a sufficient amount of holes, you should find that this keeps the wood from splitting beyond your intended end point. We found that some pieces were harder to remove than others, largely due to extra glue being placed on them, making them stick too much to an adjacent board. We tried to be very careful when prying each board up, since we knew that any screw ups could mean taking out a whole other board.

How to patch wood floor

Removing Wood

Once you get the big pieces up, you have enough left at your end to start chiseling, which is what creates the nice, crisp edge, and makes it look like a newly laid piece. In general, Jay would start by tapping along each line (that he drew with his pencil) and then he would come back through and remove each chunk of wood, one layer at a time. Since it is so important that this edge looks perfectly straight, this took about 25 minutes for each piece of wood that was modified. Luckily, Jay seemed to be enjoying this part of the process for the most part, so that always helps make the minutes pass a bit quicker.

How to replace wood floor


After each piece had been chiseled to our hearts content, the wood looked like the photo below. We tried to maintain the staggered look with each piece of wood. See those laser sharp edges? Jay is such a rockstar.

How to replace wood boards on floor

Replacing Wood Floor


Compounding that Joint

5 Jun

When we had the room all free and clear of studs and pipes and electrical cords, it was officially time to seal up that big ol’ hole in the wall and actually get this room to looking more like, well, a room. After chatting with another friendly Lowe’s associate, we came back home with all our new spackling gear and got ready to drywall this joint.

How to patch plaster hole

Big Old Hole

In all honesty, we came back with a lot more loot than I was planning. Being the frugal little lady I am, I thought Jay could like buy one trowel and a putty knife and call it a day. Lucky for Jay (unlucky for me) the guy at Lowe’s that helped us was like a drywalling duuuude. Like I think his middle name was drywall mcgee. This man was in his element when talking about all the tools we needed.

While grabbing 12  tools from the wall (and insisting we needed all of them), he told us stories of days gone by while making dramatic motions depicting exactly how you drywall, tape and apply joint compound. I guess I was so mesmerized by his actions that before I knew it, we had a whole arsenal of drywalling gear in our cart. Jay was smiling, I was still trying to figure out what all those hand movements meant from the theatrical performance.

Tools Needed for Drywall

Drywalling Tools

After one (rather lackluster, sorry honey) drywalling experience prior, Jay was sold on one thing. He wanted to get the big joint knife. No 4″ tools here, he wanted 12″ and up. Since a larger joint knife will smooth out the entire line to that plane, Jay’s experience was that this was the best tool of the trade for the work he was doing. Since I wanted him to be equipped this time to knock this job out of the park, I relented and let him get all the goodies at the store. Before Jay had a chance to use all his new tools, we had to cut the drywall outside to fit.

How to cut drywall

Cutting the Drywall

For some reference, here is how the whole room was looking before we added in any of the drywall, or started the mudding process.

How to fill hole in wall

Wall Opening

Since we have an old house, and plaster walls, we found that the actual wall height between the dining room and living room walls – well – lets just say there was some variation. After popping the drywall in, there was still a considerable gap.

How to patch hole with drywall

Adding Drywall

Since adding two pieces of drywall stacked on top of each other would have been too high, we opted (per the pro’s¬†consultation) to put one piece in, and then use joint compound to fill the rest. Lots of joint compound, to turns out. This also helped a bit with the variation in wall height since we could gradually merge the two surfaces together. We thought a bag of joint compound mix would be enough – no dice. 2 bags it was. It was pretty chunkalicous at first, so we (Jay) really had to get in there and mix this for a bit before we had the right¬†consistency¬†to put up on the wall.

How to mud drywall

Mixing Joint Compound

Here he is applying the first coat. It was a pretty thick first coat, probably a solid inch around the entire wall opening.

How to mud drywall

Mudding the Wall

After the initial coat was on (we used the smaller, 4″ trowel for this part), we moved on to smoothing all of the joint compound out on the wall, to give it as finished as an¬†appearance¬†as possible. This is the point where the big old mudding knife came in handy. Look at that concentration.

How to fill hole in wall

Smoothing Out Joints

Now that we have the entire hole in the wall coated, it’s time for some sanding, second coats (and third coats), and then – paint!! Wishing we could just hop to the paint step, but, some things are worth the wait.

Wall Preppin’

3 Jun

Now that the wall is out, we’ve got a bit of a mess on our hands. Wires dangling, lathe hanging. It’s not a pretty sight. It’s also a rather messy sight. Here is the wall, sans (most studs) and plaster free. Progress – but not quite there yet. See our paint color testing starting to happen on the walls? ūüôā

How to remove a wall

Wall Removal

The main issue after taking this dude down was the fact that we had some electrical still chilling on a stud, and in need or rerouting and we had lots of lathe that we needed to trim off the sides in order to have a clean edge for applying drywall to and mudding. Here is the problematic electrical box. The switch controlled the dining room light on one side, and the kitchen on the other.

How to reroute electrical box

Electrical Box

Our first instinct was to cap off the wires that controlled this light switch, which would have just left the wires without voltage in the wall. Jay grabbed a multi-meter from work, which helped him to gauge which lines had current running through them. Our initial plan was to snip one of the wires in order to cut off the line that was situated in the middle of the room, which was the one we wanted to remove, since there wasn’t a wall there anymore. We also considered just rerouting the switch to the new wall, but it seemed kind of excessive to have a light just floating in the middle of the wall.

How to use a multi meter

Multi Meter

But, much to our joint dismay, the box we were hoping to terminate the wires from was actually not the origination point for the wires, so we couldn’t proceed with¬†capping¬†the wires at this location.¬†Par for the course with DIYing, we moved onto plan B. Turns out, there was another, quite simple fix, which was to put the wires up in a termination box in the attic, which is just a junction box, that allows the wires to be safely tied off and up to code. It’s really the same idea with a light switch (where the wires end there), but the junction box allowed us to safely terminate the wires in a still¬†accessible¬†location (the attic crawlspace).

Due to all the¬†sleuthing¬† this part of the project took longer than we both would have liked, but with another quick run to the hardware store, we had a safe solution we were both happy with for all of $5. I’ll go ahead and call that a win.

How to reroute electrical

Rerouting Electrical

After the wire situation was under control, we had to move on to removing all of the extra lathe from the wall. There was quite a bit of this stuff, so it took us the better part of 3 hours to trim it all up and make sure the wall cavity was nice and even on both sides.¬†Luckily, one of our purchases at our most recent Lowe’s run was a heavy duty wire snipper, which we found to be essential for getting all the loose wires trimmed and cut.

How to trim lathe

Trimming Lathe

Last, after we had removed the wall studs where the electrical was prior, we had to address the vent that had previously been routed under the cabinets. Since we will just install a flush floor vent at this location, we had to get in there with the trimmers and remove all the excess hvac that we no longer needed. I think the wire cutters are Jay’s new favorite tool ūüėČ They were really essential for both the lathe and the HVAC cutting, so I’m glad we picked them up!

How to trim HVAC

Removing HVAC

Now the room is looking much better, and totally ready for the next step – drywalling! Woo to the hoo.

How to remove wall

Wall Removed

Studor Saved the Day

28 May

So remember this guy, the vent pipe just jutting right through our kitchen causing all kinds of problems. Well after doing some sluething (aka google searching), our initial plan was jut to re-route the pipe, and have it bend into the adjacent exterior wall. But, then we were cordially introduced to Mr. Studor, and oh how he changed our plans. In a very good way ūüėČ

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

When we were spending (another) afternoon in Lowe’s asking away on questions – we had a super friendly dude listen as we blathered on about our vent pipe situation for like 20 mins and when we are done venting (pun intended, he he), he just calmly looks at us and says – have you ever thought about a studor valve. Why no, we hadn’t! By the way, what’s a studor valve (thinks my noggin’). He seemed pretty sure of himself, so he starts walking us over to plumbing and chatting with Jay in coded man talk about studor valves and blah blah blah. I’m just like – dude – does it solve my problemo, let’s just cut to the chase!? Speak my language here!

How to install a studor valve

Air Admittance Valve

Turns out, it does. Instead of routing the vent out into the wall, for $30 you can just by this handy little bopper of a dude and it vents right from under the sink basin. Pros – it allows us to remove the wall without having to worry about rerouting the vent pipe. Cons – (after asking the guy 25 times, he finally came up with) … sometimes studor valves fail after a few years. And I was like – hold the phone – what do you mean, fail? I immediately start to¬†conjure¬†up images of sewage all over my basement floor. But here is what happens – it just starts to stink. Kinda like studor made a tooter, ya know what a mean. And the fix, well, you buy a new one, for another $25-$30 bucks. No harm done. That I can live with, especially if it allows us to proceed full fledged with our little wall removal process, and especially if it’s 3-4 years down the line. Yep – call be shortsighted, but it was a full fledged – onward! – from there.

How to install air admittance valve

Installing Studor Pipe

To get this guy installed, all we had to do was remove the old sink plumbing that was there, and install this new one with the studor pipe attached. Out with the old, in with the new. We had to retrofit the pipe just a bit and cut some of the line off, but overall, it took about 5 minutes.

How to install studor valve

Cutting Pipe

We read online that the one thing that can be affected by installing the studor pipe is the water pressure and flow down in the basement (or in the affected bathroom, in our case this was the basement). So before we committed to actually cutting off the rest of the stack, we made sure to do a quick little water test to see if things were hunky doorey. Guess, what. It was even better than before. Probably since the old drain had tons of hair and gunk in it, but I’ll go ahead and call that a success. ūüėČ

How to install a studor valve

Testing Water

Back up in the kitchen, things were looking like this. Big vented pipe, not going to work with the new kitchen decor.

Studor Valve

Sewer Vent Pipe

Since this pipe goes all the way up into the attic, and is vented up through the roof, Jay popped up into the attic crawl space to saw off the pipe, so that we could remove the section we needed a bit easier. I had this (probably irrational) fear that if Jay joggled the pipe too much, that he would actually disconnect it and make sewer stink flood the house forever, since I was picturing him breaking the line somewhere in between the origination point, and the section we were capping it off at. Luckily, everything went along swimingly.

Capping off sewer vent

PVC Cement

After we had just a stub left to cap, we grabbed some PVC cement to get this guy all wrapped up. Cement, I like the sound of that. Last thing you want is an insufficient seal leading to sewer stink in yo house.

How to cap sewer vent

Sealing Vent

For good measure, we put some on the cap, and on the vent base to make sure we had a perfectly perfect seal. And the final step, capping this baby off on the roof, too. Otherwise we would have rain water falling into this guy up top, which would mean a leaking attic in no time. Here is Jay, conquering his fear of heights and slapping that cap up on the vent.

How to cap sewer vent on ceiling

Capping Sewer Vent

This post is part of the William Morris Project over at Pancakes and French Fries.

Something Has Got to Give

27 May

Sometimes you just get to a point with a renovation where you know you have to do something drastic to make the magic happen. When incremental little steps just won’t do. I hit that moment. At 4pm last Sunday, actually. I just looked at Jay and said – that wall has GOT to come down. Now, mind you, we had played around with the idea of removing the wall, but kind of got sidelined with it, and thought that maybe we would just widen the doorway, or just leave the room as is.

But then, at 4′ o clock on Sunday, I just knew that this wall was not going to live to see another day. Jay, Jay wasn’t so sure such drastic measures had to be taken. He thought we could try talking it out with the wall before we told him to pack his bags, maybe give him a second chance. But I knew it was over. It started with just a little exploration, we wanted to just see what was under the wall. Plus, after we removed the cabinets we noticed that there was a vent popping out that needed some attention any way. It always starts small…

How to remove floor vent

Removing Floor Vent

With the left side of the wall already looking kinda gappy, we decided a bit more exploratory tapping on the other side couldn’t hurt. Here is Jay giving it the initial ceremonial tap.

How to remove wall

Removing Wall

Then, this happened. Kind of one of those things that when you start to get momentum on it, you just keep moving forward. Once we had the first chunk of wall up and out – I started to get really excited. It was really happening! We didn’t let our fears of wall removal stop us. Nope, we conquered it and busted that sucker out! It felt good. It felt great! Liberation from the walls that had constrained us for so long!

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

If you notice in the picture above, there is a slight little wrinkle in our wall removal plans. See that little white vent pipe attached to the second beam. That is our sewer venting stack. The original owner of the house¬†gingerly¬†informed us when we closed that this wall could never be removed, since it had the sewer stack vent line in it. Turns out – with a little bit of research – this little guy could be removed, it was just a matter of¬†re-configuring¬†a few things. Anytime a wall comes down, I think you’re bound to have something in the way. More than anything, it’s just a matter of making sure whatever is in the wall can be¬†re-diverted, etc.

Duct Work In Wall

Duct Work In Wall

On the other side of the wall, we had a lovely stack of duct work, that lucky for us, actually did not connect to anything. Huzza!! It was just chilling there, completely¬†separate¬†from the HVAC system above and below, so that was a relatively easy work around. Just rip it out! ūüėČ

By the time we had moved onto the dining room side of the wall, the plaster was coming out in nice, neat pieces, which really limited the dust in the room, and helped with ease of removal. With a little bit of prying, Jay was able to just rip each piece off the wall. With plaster, there is usually metal lathe at the corners, too, so we had to pull a little harder to get those pieces to come down.

How to remove plaster wall

Removing Plaster From Wall

Also, just to provide a heads up to all reading, we were able to confirm that the wall was absolutely not a load bearing wall, which is obviously crucial to determine prior to grabbing yo sledgehammer. Basically, the information we got that guided us toward knowing this was not load bearing was that the floor joists above the wall ran¬†parallel¬†with the structure. If the joists ran perpendicular, than this would have been a load bearing wall, and we would have needed some type of supporting beam to help keep the house up ūüėČ

This is what we started with in the kitchen and dining room, and here is the¬†layout of the house, if helpful. Basically, it was a 34″‘ door opening that was sufficient, but felt pretty narrow when you passed in between each room.

Removing Non-Load Bearing Wall

Kitchen | Dining Room Before

The biggest difference I noticed right away was how much more light came in through the combined spaces – and – how much larger they felt. The ceilings, especially! Immediately I just looked at Jay with a crazy sauce grin on my face and proclaimed this was the best DIY decision we had ever made. By this point in the demolition process, he was drinking the kool-aid right along with me and smiled on back. ūüôā We were feeling it, man. Demo work at it’s best.

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

Now instead of two rinky dink 9×10 rooms, we have one big ole’ 18×10 room, that feels oh so spacious and oh so open. I can’t even put into words how profound the difference is, but it’s a big deal (at least to us!). Like epic. Plus, our handy little handy man is coming back this week to add a new doorway for a french door off the side of the house and to help re-route some of the electrical. Once we have the door installed, I think this room will be the ca’ts meow. Malcolm conquers.