How NOT to Open a Wall
When I purchased my new house, I was vaguely aware the kitchen had some issues: namely, the distinct lack of kitchen appliances.
Pro: This is pretty much a giant excuse for me to design my dream kitchen.
Con: I needed to design and implement that kitchen fast, else risk going hungry.
So, when I moved in, the kitchen abruptly became my number one priority. I was looking at kitchen layouts at all hours of the day, trying to figure out something that would be pretty and functional. But, there were all these doorways cluttering up the room, limiting the space available for cabinets/counters/appliances. I kept making plan after plan, and hating them all.
I thought about tearing down the wall behind the trash can and putting the laundry room somewhere else.. but the wall was load-bearing, and that was just not in the budget (and I'm not brave enough to try that myself...) But eventually, I realized that the entrance to the laundry room didn't have to be from the kitchen. There was a perfectly good hallway that could house a doorway to the laundry room AND that wall wasn't load-bearing. Win! So that became the new plan: Open a new doorway in the hallway, and close up the kitchen/laundry room doorway.
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I did all my prep work to contain the dust, but I was still super scared to actually open the wall? What if I hit an electrical line? Or a pipe? Or an air duct? After spending an inordinate amount of time in my basement staring at the ceiling, I was pretty confident none of those things were actually back there, but still! So my first cuts were scaredy-cuts.
I managed just enough of a cut to be able to stick my head in the wall. And was promptly confused. Where was the plaster? Why was there a wood under and over my head? Cutting more wall away got me this:
At this point, I was confident that there's nothing in the wall I'm going hit. Yay! There also apparently used to be an opening in the wall that some past owner drywalled over. Cool! More importantly, I realized that I was doing this job in the absolute dumbest way possible. I was using a combination of a jigsaw/angle grinder (which were not really the ideal tools, by the way. If you try this, don't be cheap like me and actually purchase an oscillating multi-tool. I've been eyeing this dremel, but haven't actually used it.) to hack away at the wall at basically random places. This would be going a lot faster if I actually traced my tape outline like I was suppose to. So, I started doing that, and actually got somewhere.
It's starting to look like a doorway. But you might also notice: this photo is super hazy. Breaking down walls is dusty. And in my case, probably dangerous: I feel confident there is lead paint in there somewhere. So I had this super fancy respirator on during the process, which actually made a pretty tight seal around my mouth and nose, and made me feel way safer than one of those flimsy paper things. It also had pink filters, and would've been almost pretty if it wasn't a giant respirator taking up half my face. Regardless, I managed to cut up half my wall without cutting into wires or giving myself a deadly disease, so I kept going.
I eventually finished half the wall. This took me pretty much an entire day of work; after taking this picture I took a shower and had dinner. A pro would probably have finished the whole thing by this point, but that is why they get paid and I don't.
Day 2, I took down the other half:
I cut the power (by shutting off the circuit the receptacle was on) and disconnected the outlet at the bottom before starting. Ultimately, I shoved the wires back into the basement and capped them with wire nuts before turning the power back on.
Day 3, I cut the studs down, added a "stud" to the side without one to support the wall, and added trim. Once I had the right trim (hello again, Home Depot) it went quickly.
Yes, I did secure my makeshift stud with kreg jig screws, as seen by the funny looking holes in the above photo. I believe professionals nail giant nails into the studs at an angle, but that seemed exceedingly difficult, especially since I would've been nailing up. My Kreg Jig, a super small little portable one, might just be the best Christmas gift my Dad has ever gotten me. It makes a bunch of projects that otherwise would've been impossible for me to do myself almost easy. I highly recommend one if you regularly DIY and don't already own one.
Also note the thickness of the wall in the above photo. Not only was there the plaster/stud combo that was normal, some past owner added drywall on top of the plaster in the laundry room side. My guess was the plaster was cracking, and they wanted to cover that up, but who really knows? As a result, my walls were super thick, and I couldn't just put a 1x6 over the space and call it a day. I don't have a table saw, and therefore was unable to cut down a larger sheet of something, so I had to make due with two pieces of 3 1/2" trim. I did the best I could to make them even, but honestly, even with an abundance of caulk and paint, it looks a little janky. One board certainly would have been more ideal.
All done!! It's not perfect, but closing up the other door allows me to have a much more functional kitchen. And in the future, if I ever have a table saw, it would be pretty simple to update the doorframe to a single piece!