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When you are remodeling your home, your new plans may require the removal of walls. Both interior and exterior walls may be removed in a renovation project to add to your home or create a more open floor plan inside. In some situations, you may need to remove or replace a wall that has become damaged due to an accident or from water or pests.
On average, a homeowner can expect to pay between $1,200 and $5,000, with most paying around $2,500 to remove a 120 square foot load-bearing wall made of plaster with little to no utility lines inside. Prices range as low as $300 to remove an 80 square foot, non-load-bearing partition wall made of drywall, with no utility lines to be moved, to as high as $10,000 to remove a 200 square foot exterior brick, load-bearing wall that contains windows, utility lines, and plumbing.
|Wall Demolition Cost|
|National average cost||$2,500|
The cost to demo a wall will depend on the wall type, with non-load-bearing walls running an average of $300 to $1,000 and load-bearing walls costing around $1,500 to $10,000. The wall demolition cost also factors in the area where the wall is being removed and the wall material. Below you will see the average cost for a wall removal based on the type of wall being removed.
|Type of Wall||Average Cost to Remove|
|Non-Load-Bearing||$300 - $1,000|
|Load-Bearing||$1,500 - $10,000|
Non-load-bearing walls are cheaper to remove than load-bearing walls, costing between $300 to $1,000. This process is cheaper because there is no need to provide reinforcement to protect the structural integrity of the home, making the process quicker and less labor-intensive.
Non-load-bearing walls are sometimes hollow because they do not have to support any weight. Partial walls are often non-load-bearing as well; however, you should never just assume they are. Look for an additional support beam, which will let you know whether the wall is load-bearing or not. Also, these walls normally do not have solid headers above windows and door frames. Instead, they may have only a piece of lumber with a single wall stud in the center.
In some homes, particularly one-story homes located in the south and one-story homes on a slab, you may have non-load-bearing walls because your home may have a truss system that supports the load on the roof. If you suspect this may be the case, your contractor can likely tell with a quick look in the attic.
Removing a load-bearing wall can be quite labor-intensive and expensive, running from as low as $1,500 to as high as $10,000 in a multi-story home. When a wall is termed to be load-bearing, it means it carries the weight of the structure. With a load-bearing wall, the home’s roofing, joists, framework, and other building materials literally rest on top of it. Because of this, the process can be more complicated as the structure needs to be supported in another way if the wall is removed.
Since your home’s framework rests on its structural walls, exterior walls are almost always load-bearing. Some interior walls can be load-bearing, as well, so it’s important to recognize the difference between the two.
Determining if a wall is load-bearing is critical if you plan any renovations that require the removal or replacement of a wall in your home. Before beginning a renovation project, you should always consult a professional to determine if a wall is load-bearing or not. Yet, if you are in the planning stages and determining which walls should or should not be removed, the simple tips below will help you identify a possible load-bearing wall.
One of the first ways to tell if a wall is load-bearing is by its thickness. Since these walls are there to support your home's structure, they need to be strong and solid. Load-bearing walls will be thicker and always more than six inches. Another way to determine if a wall is load-bearing is by seeing how it runs regarding the above floor joists. In most cases, a load-bearing wall runs perpendicular to these joists. Beneath a load-bearing wall, you will also find some kind of support structure, such as a steel beam.
The location of the wall can also be an indication as to whether or not its load-bearing. Internal load-bearing walls tend to be more centralized in your home. With exterior walls, you are likely to find that all are load-bearing, especially if they cover a long area.
Other possible indications of a load-bearing wall are the presence of spliced joists above the wall in the attic or a wall that runs parallel to the joint where the sides of the roof meet.
When it comes to tearing down walls in your home, you will pay different prices depending on the location of your wall. You can pay as little as $300 for an interior wall and up to $10,000 for an exterior wall. Below you will see an average cost for removing an interior or exterior wall and what makes the cost between the two so different.
|Type of Wall||Average Cost to Remove|
|Interior Wall||$300 - $5,000|
|Exterior Wall||$3,500 - $10,000|
Demolishing an interior wall will cost between $300 and $5,000, primarily depending on whether the wall is load-bearing or non-load-bearing, with load-bearing walls costing the most. Interior walls are one of the most common types of walls demolished during a renovation and are typically removed to create a more open floor plan. The cost to remove an interior wall depends on the wall material and its location in the home. If it is in a smaller space, it may take longer to remove since normal tools, such as sledgehammers, cannot be used in tight spaces as they may damage other walls.
Removing an exterior wall is much more expensive, running between $3,500 to $10,000. One of the reasons for the higher cost is that almost all exterior walls are loading-bearing. Another issue that increases the cost is that the wall’s exterior facade will have to be removed. This could be wood, siding, or even brick. Exterior walls tend to have windows or doors that must be removed before the wall can be demolished.
One factor that helps determine the cost to remove a load-bearing wall is whether the wall is in a one-story or two-story home. You can pay between $1,500 and $10,000 for wall removal, with removal in a multi-story home running significantly higher. Removing a load-bearing wall from a multi-story home presents significantly more challenges. You have to make sure that the roof is supported and the second story has enough support. Below you will see the average cost range to remove a load-bearing wall based on the number of stories in your home.
|Number of Stories||Average Cost|
|One Story||$1,500 - $3,000|
|Two Stories||$4,000 - $10,000|
Removing a load-bearing wall from a single-story home will run between $1,500 and $3,000. This cost includes removing the wall and putting in the new support to replace it. When any supporting structure is removed from your home, it must be replaced with a different type of support to keep the home’s structure sound. Homeowners can choose from the addition of horizontal beams to provide support or vertical beams.
The cost to remove a load-bearing wall in a two-story house is the same as the cost to remove a load-bearing wall in a 3-story house, which runs between $4,000 and $10,000. When you remove a load-bearing wall from a multi-story home, the process is more complicated as the contractor will need to put additional bracing in the floor below the wall and the floor above the wall. Extra support will be needed temporarily while the wall is being removed and permanently once the job is done because the area will be supporting more weight than a single-story wall would.
The main factor that affects the cost of removing a wall is the wall material. The cost per square foot ranges from $0.30 to $6.40 to have a wall removed, depending on the material. The easier the material is to break apart, the less costly the process is. Below you will see what you can expect to pay per square foot based on your wall’s material.
|Material||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Drywall||$0.30 - $0.45|
|Wood||$0.40 - $0.60|
|Plaster||$0.45 - $0.75|
|Stud||$0.65 - $1.30|
|Block||$2.20 - $4.70|
|Brick||$2.90 - $6.40|
Removing a wall covered in drywall is one of the least expensive wall removal costs, running around $0.30 to $0.45 per square foot. Drywall is easy to pull down and cut up. Another reason the cost for removing a wall with drywall is lower is that it creates less mess. Drywall can be cut apart in sheets and removed in large complete sections, making the cleanup process easier.
When removing wood paneling or a wood-covered wall, $0.40 to $0.60 per square foot is what you can expect to pay. Removing a wood wall requires cutting into the wood and removing sections or pulling off the individual planks. Cleanup is easy with this type of wall since it can be removed in large sections.
The complete removal of a plaster wall runs between $0.45 and $0.75 per square foot. This is a cheaper method than more solid wall materials because it is easy to break apart and remove. The fact that it can be messy slightly increases the cost. Plaster walls are typically removed by breaking the plaster with a sledgehammer or other heavy tool. Proper safety gear is necessary when removing plaster to ensure that the dust is not inhaled while the material is broken apart.
Removing a stud wall is a little more costly, running between $0.65 and $1.30 per square foot. Stud walls can be more challenging to remove. Once the outer portion of the wall is removed, your contractor needs to unscrew or cut out each of the studs. They will also need to remove wiring, piping, or any other types of lines in the wall if present.
Block concrete walls are significantly harder to remove, costing between $2.20 and $4.70 per square foot. The primary reason for the higher cost is the amount of labor it takes to break concrete apart. Removal of a block wall typically requires sledgehammers, hammers, crowbars, and chisels. Your contractor will break the blocks into smaller pieces and then properly dispose of them.
Brick walls are the most costly type of wall to remove. They cost between $2.90 and $6.40 for demolition. Some contractors may choose to completely break the wall using a sledgehammer. If the wall is in an area where that could cause damage, they may need to use a more delicate method. This method often involves breaking the mortar between the bricks and removing the bricks one at a time. This process takes many more labor hours and will put you at the high end of the price per square foot.
The labor cost to remove a wall varies widely, depending on the number of professionals involved in the process. Removing these types of walls can be easy or more complicated, depending on what is inside them, whether they are load-bearing, what they are made of, and their location in the house. The average labor cost for removing a wall is between $60 and $125 per hour. Smaller, non-load-bearing partition walls take as little as four hours of total labor to remove. Larger load-bearing walls requiring significant supports to be added take up to a week for the process to be complete.
If the wall is load-bearing, you may also want to consider bringing in a structural engineer to assist with the project. The cost of a structural engineer for assistance with load-bearing walls can run between $100 and $500 for their services. They can be hired to assist with the process or perform an initial assessment to ensure the process is done properly. You may want to consider hiring a structural engineer if you have a more complicated renovation than a simple wall removal. Adding or modifying doors and windows, underpinning foundations, or moving multiple walls can lead to structural concerns that an engineer can assess and address. They can also help ensure that your renovations meet all of the current building codes and pass inspections.
When you remove a wall, there is a chance that you will need to move utility lines that are contained inside of it. These lines can be in both load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls. Their presence adds to the cost of the removal process. The most commonly found utility lines in walls are electrical lines, plumbing pipes, and cable lines.
Electrical lines will need to be moved by an electrician, which will cost an hourly rate of $40 to $100. The time it will take for the electrician depends on the complexity of the lines in the wall and how easily they can be moved. Most projects take a few hours or less.
A plumber needs to be hired to move pipes contained in the wall. Most plumbers charge between $45 and $200, but the total cost of the project depends on where they can route the pipes. Projects can take from a couple of hours to several hours, which can significantly add to the total cost of the project.
If your home has cable, the lines may be located in the walls. This is typically the case when the wall has a cable outlet as the connecting cables are usually overhead. In most cases, the cable can be removed, which can be done by the contractor. If you want the line moved to another wall, you need to call your provider. They are likely to charge you between $50 and $200 for the service call and labor.
While most often walls are removed to change the home’s layout, sometimes you may want to replace a wall. There are many reasons that a homeowner may choose to replace a wall in their home. The wall may have structural damage that needs to be addressed. Water damage can lead to mold that requires extensive wall repairs. In this instance, replacement may be the better option. You also may consider replacement if the wall was damaged due to a storm or an accident.
Replacing a wall can run an average of $2,500 to $8.000, though costs can go as low as $1,300 to as high as $13,000. Replacing a wall involves demolishing the original wall, then reframing a new wall. Once the new wall has been framed, the wall will need to be added. The material chosen for the wall also has a major effect on the cost.
Replacing a non-load-bearing wall is cheaper than a load-bearing one, costing an average of $2,500 to $3,500. The costs of removing a non-loading-bearing wall are mainly affected by the size of the wall and if any utilities need to be moved. Once the old wall is demolished, the professional will immediately begin the reframing process without providing additional supports as they would with a load-bearing wall.
You can spend an average of $2,500 to $8,000 on replacing a load-bearing wall in your home. The costs can go higher, especially if the wall is on the exterior of your home. When a load-bearing wall is demolished, the contractor will often have to use a temporary solution to support the wall. They can provide the needed support by using temperate beams or posts, which will likely be made out of wood since the material costs less and is easier to install and uninstall. You can expect to pay between $15 and $45 per square foot to install these temporary solutions. These will need to be in place until the new wall goes up.
You can choose to replace the load-bearing wall with permanent beams or posts instead of erecting a new wall. Replacing the load-bearing wall with a beam costs $300 to $5,000, depending on the material chosen for the beam. You can choose to replace the load-bearing wall with posts, though this option is usually more expensive. The cost for adding posts runs an average of $1,200 to $5,000, depending on whether they are used in conjunction with beams.
Adding a wall beam when removing a load-bearing wall is necessary to maintain the structure of your home. Installing one will run between $3 and $100 depending on the material being used. While all beams are designed to provide the necessary support in place of a load-bearing wall, some options are better depending on the location and size of the wall being removed. Below you will see the materials commonly used for beams and what they cost per linear foot.
|Beam Material||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|LVL||$3 - $12|
|Wood||$5 - $30|
|Glulam||$6 - $34|
|Concrete||$7 - $16|
|Steel||$50 - $100|
A popular and inexpensive option for load-bearing beams is LVL beams which run between $3 to $12 per linear foot. They are strong enough to provide support and resist warping. It comes in longer sizes than other options making it popular for walls with more linear feet. This is one of the most popular options for temporary beams as it is a less costly option.
Wood beams are another common and less-costly option, with most types of wood ranging between $5 and $30 per linear foot. Exotic woods cost more but are often only used to achieve a specific type of aesthetic. The amount you pay depends on the type of wood chosen, with the least expensive being softwoods. These woods tend to be in greater supply.
The cost per linear foot for glulam beams to support your load-bearing wall is around $6 to $34. The term is used to describe glued laminated timber and is constructed by binding together several thin layers of wood with strong adhesives. It is an engineered type of wood that is highly versatile and is a popular option when a curved shape is needed, since it can be customized.
Moving into the more expensive options, you will find concrete beams, which cost between $7 and $16 per linear foot. These beams are precast and contain rebar inside to reinforce them and improve their strength. You can also choose insulated concrete forms for your beams, which provide a layer of insulation to improve the soundproofing quality of the beam.
The most expensive type of beam to use when removing a load-bearing wall is steel, which will cost between $50 and $100 per linear foot. The primary reason for the high cost is the material’s extreme durability, making it ideal for large walls supporting heavy loads. In some cases, posts will have to be used with steel if the length of the opening is particularly wide. Steel beams are also a popular option for tighter spaces as they can be made more compact, making them easier to install.
If you want to move a wall in your home, you need to demolish the original wall and then rebuild another where you wish the wall to be. Demolition can run anywhere between $300 and $10,000, while a rebuild will run between $1,000 and $3,500. Most often, homeowners choose to move a wall to make adjustments to their floor plan. This can be the case if you are looking to increase the size of one room and take space out of another to achieve this goal. Walls can be moved to turn two rooms into one by removing the separating wall and installing the new wall to close the extra entrance to the other room. Some homeowners choose to move an exterior wall if they are trying to add to the current square footage of their home.
The cost to remove a half wall or a pass-through runs between $2,200 and $5,500 when done through a load-bearing wall. The cost of cutting an opening in the wall depends on the size of the opening, what is contained in the wall, and what material is covering the wall.
A kitchen pass-through cost may be affected by water and gas lines in the wall, which are more common in this room. You may choose to cut through a load-bearing wall for many reasons. They are popular in the kitchen to create an opening to an eating area, install a breakfast bar, or extend a countertop. Some homeowners may also choose to cut through a wall to make a space seem larger or allow a visual line into another room.
Many homeowners choose to remove walls that create an awkward design or otherwise prohibit traffic flow throughout the home. You may also desire a more modern, open floor plan. This is often hard to accomplish unless you demolish one or more existing walls. Creating an open floor plan also makes your home feel bigger, which can be an attractive selling point for potential buyers. Your home could sell faster and for more money just because it no longer feels old or outdated.
You may not have enough space for bigger items if you have closed-in rooms. This is especially true if you have very large pieces, such as a piano or pool table. Moreover, moving around inside your home can also be awkward, particularly if one or more family members relies on a mobility device such as a walker or wheelchair. Finally, when adding an extension, you’ll need an avenue to access your new space. More likely than not, this means that you will have to tear down a wall.
After figuring out if your wall is load-bearing or not and deciding that you want to remove it, you’ll need to consider other factors. You must determine whether lines are hidden inside your wall. A structural engineer can make this determination, or you could check with an electrician or your utility company.
Pipes are often found inside interior walls, particularly those in a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen. If a wall has a plumbing fixture coming from it, it more likely than not contains water pipes. You’ll need to shut the water off at the main, which is the primary source leading into your home. If you no longer require those plumbing lines, you will need to remove the pipes or place a cap over the top of them before reinstalling your new wall.
Doors, baseboards, crown molding, and other wall trim will need to be removed before demolition. If cabinets or other fixtures are attached to the wall, they will need to be taken down as well. Next, workers will cut away any caulking between your wall and the ceiling to ensure a clean break. They’ll also remove electrical outlets and wall plates once they are sure that service has been temporarily shut off to your location.
Demolishing a wall is messy. It results in dust and debris that could penetrate electronics and other delicate equipment. Accordingly, you need to cover television sets, computers, and other sensitive items. Consider partitioning off the area with a sheet of heavy plastic if possible. This will prevent dust from getting into your carpet and upholstered furniture while the work is ongoing.
Contractors start by punching a small hole in the wall using a sledgehammer. When removing drywall, they will then cut sections of sheetrock away using a reciprocal saw. For plastered walls, they may need to continue poking holes and remove individual pieces by hand. The lath, or thin pieces of wood that hold the plaster in place, must be manually taken out. Naturally, this means it will take more time to remove a plastered wall. Budget around 50% more in labor if you are eliminating a plastered wall versus drywall.
With the wall down to the framework, the next step is to remove insulation. This is done by pulling rolls from between the studs and discarding them. Once all the insulation is out of the way, contractors can then cut individual studs in half to remove them.
Additional steps are needed if you have a load-bearing wall. First, contractors will use 2 x 4’s to create a temporary wall on either side of your current one. After removing the sheetrock or plaster, they will install a wooden or steel header beam over the top of the existing framework. This will provide enough support so that you can completely remove the studs.
In some instances, removing a wall involves removing hazardous materials, which should always be handled by a professional. If the wall was subjected to water damage, mold may be present, which should be properly remediated by a professional to prevent air contamination in the home. Mold remediation can cost an average of $1,500 to $3,500, depending on how extensive the contamination is.
Another possible concern with older homes is the presence of asbestos or lead paint on the wall. Both substances can be toxic and should be removed by a professional who knows the proper safety measures and handling the material required. Asbestos removal runs on average, anywhere between $400 and $500, depending on the type of asbestos present. If you discover the wall has been painted with lead paint, you should have the rest of the home checked and any other lead paint removed. Lead paint can result in lead poisoning, which can cause irreversible brain, kidney, and liver damage. Depending on the size of your home, you can pay anywhere between $8,000 and $15,000 for lead paint to be removed.
When you remove a wall, there may be parts of adjoining or perpendicular walls that have become exposed during the process. If this is the case, you will likely need to install new drywall over the section to finish the project. A professional drywaller can patch the area for around $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot, or it may be included by the company removing the wall.
The beams necessary to provide support after removing a load-bearing wall can be a hindrance to your decor. Unfortunately, they are a necessity, and removal of them is not an option. However, you have a few options to consider if you want to make its appearance less of a nuisance.
One option is to blend it into the decor by having it painted the same color as the ceiling or the wall. Paying a professional painter to do this runs between $25 and $100 per hour, but the project should not take long to complete. Another option is to make the beams appear as though they are part of the decor. This can be done by adding other decorative beams along the ceiling, either in a parallel pattern across the ceiling at set intervals or by putting a large one perpendicular. You can expect to pay between $6.50 and $8.25 per linear foot to have a decorative beam installed in your home.
Yes, it can be removed, but the area needs to be reinforced with beams and supports to ensure the home’s structure is maintained.
Load-bearing walls are the support structure that holds the weight of the roof or the floor that is directly above it.
In a two-story home, determining if it is a load-bearing wall depends on if it is on the first floor or a top floor. If on the first floor, you need to check in the basement or crawl space to see if the area beneath the wall is supported. If the wall is on the upper floor, you need to look at the floor joists above. If they are perpendicular, it is most likely load-bearing.
You can remove as many studs from a load-bearing wall as you like as long as each area where they are removed is properly supported with a header.
In a single-story house, most interior load-bearing walls will be more centralized in the home. They also will be supported underneath the wall in the basement or crawl space, usually with a steel beam.
Whether or not you need a permit to remove a load-bearing wall depends on the city. However, most require a permit since it affects and alters the structure and support of your home.
Yes, you can partially remove a load-bearing wall, but the section that is removed will need to be supported with id="th12" headers to bear the weight of the roof or the floor above.