Remove a Wall Cost

The average cost of removing a wall is $700.

In this guide

Why to remove a wall?
Cost factors
Load-bearing vs. non-load bearing
Prep-work
Removal process
Labor
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to remove a wall?

Achieving a more modern, up-to-date floor plan can require you to remove a wall or change its placement. You may also wish to remove walls that are bowed, sagging, or otherwise damaged.

The average consumer will pay around $700 to tear down an 8’ x 12’ non-load bearing wall, that contains both electrical wires and plumbing to reroute.

Why to remove a wall?

Many homeowners choose to remove walls that create 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 Your home could sell faster and for more money just because it no longer feels old or outdated.

Walls can sometimes get in the way of moving furniture in and out. Moreover, you may not have enough room to place bigger items if your rooms are closed in. This is especially true if you have very large pieces, such as a piano or pool table. 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. When adding an extension, you’ll need an avenue in which to access your new space. More likely than not, this means that you will have to tear down a wall.

Cost factors

The type of wall you are removing will affect its cost. Sheetrock 1 is by far the easiest material to eliminate, followed by plaster 2. A brick or concrete wall, on the other hand, could require the use of a demolition hammer and scaffolding, as well as more labor hours, resulting in a higher cost.

Walls are more difficult to remove in multi-story homes, since workers must use extra caution not to damage the floor or ceiling. They might also need to add temporary support beams on one or more floors if your wall is load-bearing. Additionally, two-story homes are more likely to contain interior load-bearing walls 3 because of the extra weight that must be supported.

If you plan to install a new wall in the same location, there’s a good chance you can reuse the same service lines. Otherwise, you will need to hire someone to reroute any plumbing, electrical, or other utility lines. Plumbers and steamfitters make on average $45-$65 an hour, while electricians earn around $65-$85 per hour. If you need someone to re-install telephone, cable, or internet lines, they’ll charge somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 per hour. So for two hours of re-routing work, you can expect to pay up to $300 . If this is a non-water wall, meaning there are no pipes running through it, the costs will be closer to $170 for rerouting of wires.

Load-bearing vs. non-load bearing

Some walls in your home are load-bearing, meaning they carry 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. A non-load-bearing wall is different in that it serves only to partition off different areas into individual rooms.

Since your home’s framework rests on its structural walls 3, 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. A load-bearing wall will run perpendicular to the joists, and are typically parallel to your roof’s ridgeline. In homes with a basement or crawl space, you may see a support beam running directly underneath a wall, indicating that it is load-bearing. In addition, walls located in the center of your home are more likely than not load-bearing. This is especially true if you have a multi-story home and the walls are in the same location on every floor. 

In some homes, particularly one-story homes located in the south, and one-story homes that are on a slab, you may have no 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.

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. In addition, non-load-bearing walls normally do not have solid headers above windows and door frames. Instead, they may have only a 2” x 4” piece of lumber with a single wall stud in the center.

Prep-work

It is sometimes difficult to tell whether a wall is structural or non-structural simply by looking at it. For example, your joists may be hidden, or your home may sit on a concrete slab 4. In those instances, you should hire a structural engineer or refer to your blueprints 5. Knocking down a load-bearing wall is extremely dangerous, and can result in a full or partial collapse of your structure. Added support is needed any time you demolish a load-bearing wall. Never attempt to remove a wall until you have determined its load-bearing status with absolute certainty.

Tearing down a wall with electrical or other service wires going through it requires caution. As such, you must determine whether lines are hidden inside your wall. Sometimes this is obvious, as is the case when your wall contains electrical sockets, telephone jacks, or cable outlets. But just because these signs are not visible does not mean lines are not inside. A structural engineer can also 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 top of them before reinstalling your new wall.

Doors, baseboards, crown molding 6, and other wall trim will need to be removed prior to 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 7 between your wall and the ceiling to ensure there is 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 will result in dust and debris that could penetrate electronics and other delicate equipment. Accordingly, you will 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.

Removal process

Contractors start by punching a small hole in the wall using a sledgehammer. When removing drywall 1, they will then cut sections of sheetrock away using a reciprocal saw. For plastered walls, they may need to continue poking holes and then removing individual pieces by hand. The lath, or thin pieces of wood that hold the plaster in place, must be manually taken out as well. 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 in order to remove them.

Additional steps are needed if you have a load-bearing wall. First, contractors will use 2x4’s to create a temporary wall on either side of your current one. Then after removing the sheetrock or plaster, they will install a wooden or steel header beam over top of the existing framework. This will provide enough support so that you are able to completely remove the studs.

Labor

Several things must be considered when installing a new wall. First, you must ensure it is solid and square with the other joists in your ceiling and floor. If drywall or plaster is not installed correctly, this could affect the aesthetics. Load-bearing walls must also be braced correctly to prevent further damage to your structure. For these reasons, tearing down a wall should not be considered a DIY project.

It requires between 6-8 man-hours of labor to remove a 12’ section of non-load-bearing wall that is 8 feet high. Carpenters earn $70 an hour per hour. Accordingly, you could expect to pay $210 just to demolish a wall. Expect it to take much longer to tear down a load-bearing wall, since you must account for adding temporary support walls and beams, which can make the total costs go as high as $1,500 to $3,000 including the fee for a structural engineer.

Professional contractors are licensed and insured. They must pass this cost onto the consumer in the way of labor charges. Demand also drives the price of labor. So if your area is experiencing a surge in building, carpenters may be in short supply and this in turn would increase the cost of labor. Regardless of area, construction workers often experience a downturn in work during the off-season. Since interior demolition is something that can be performed regardless of the weather, you can often save money by having someone perform this work during the winter. You could save anywhere from 10% to 50% in labor charges just by doing so.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Steel beam installation

Steel beams are required any time you remove a load-bearing wall. Weighing in at around 250 pounds, they are very heavy and will require at least two people to hoist them into place. Steel beams remain permanently and assume the task your load-bearing wall once performed. To ensure it looks as natural as possible, contractors will cover it with drywall or plaster. The total project can cost between $1,500 and $3,000.

Re-adding texture

When replacing your old wall with a new one, you may want to have texture readded. This requires the use of professional plasterers and stucco 8 masons, who makes an average of $22 per hour. If it takes between 8 and 10 hours to add texture, this part of your project would cost between $176 and $220.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Depending on the project, you could need a building permit. Permits are almost always required when adding an extension, but they could be needed if you are completing a major remodeling project. Always check with your local building inspector before knocking out any walls. Nationally, building permits run anywhere from $400 to $1,800, with the average consumer paying approximately $1,100. This may or may not be included in your estimate, so check with your contractor first.
  • Removing a wall is not recommended as a DIY project. You can compromise the structural integrity of your entire home by performing this job incorrectly. There is also some risk involved with coming into contact with electrical wiring. And your new wall may not hold up correctly unless it is installed properly. To be safe, choose an experienced contractor with the proper licensing and insurance for your area.
  • Wall damage is not always visible to the naked eye. For example, you could have missing or damaged studs; mold and mildew; or termite damage inside your walls. As such, you should always budget a little extra for this project “just in case.”
  • After removing debris, you’ll need some way of disposing of it. Many homeowners choose dumpster rental to eliminate construction waste. Small dumpsters hold between four and 20 cubic yards of waste and are more than adequate for debris from a single wall. You can expect to pay between $120 and $530 to rent a dumpster, which includes the cost of delivery and pickup.
  • You can remove an exterior wall provided you take the necessary precautions for a load-bearing wall. However, you should also consider the ramifications of leaving part of your home exposed during the process. This could require you to put some of your things into storage, or move into temporary housing while the work is ongoing.
  • Houses built before 1978 could contain asbestos 9 or lead 10 paint. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends those with older homes have their structures tested before undergoing any demolition. Lead paint testing can cost anywhere from $300 to $400, with the average consumer paying around $350. Asbestos testing can run anywhere from $250 to $750, for an average of around $500. For lead paint removal, you can expect to pay between $8 and $15 per square foot, or anywhere from $768 to $1,440 to get rid of lead paint along an 8’ x 12’ section of wall. Asbestos removal costs range from $400 to $500 nationally.

FAQ

  • Do I need permit to remove wall?

In some cases, yes. Always check with your local building inspector to determine if a permit is needed.

  • Can I remove a wall?

Never attempt to remove a wall yourself. Serious bodily injury, including death, can result if your building collapses or you become electrocuted.

  • Do I need a structural engineer to remove a wall?

You should consult with a structural engineer to determine whether your wall is load-bearing and determine what, if any, precautions are needed.

  • Can I remove a wall in my house?

Interior walls can be removed, but the work should always be performed by a professional. Performing this job incorrectly can result in additional damage that would then need to be repaired.

  • How much does it cost to demo an interior wall?

Tearing down a non-load-bearing wall will cost you from $400-$700 depending on what it contains.

  • Do I need an architect to remove a wall?

An architect will not remove a wall for you. Rather, he or she will advise you on the best placement for your new wall.

  • Can you remove a load-bearing wall?

It is possible to take down a load-bearing wall, provided you install adequate support first. Failing to install support beams can lead to a full or partial collapse of your home.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Drywall: (Also known as Sheetrock) Type of plasterboard, commonly used to build walls and ceilings, composed of gypsum that is layered between sheets of heavy paper
2 Plaster: A paste composed of sand, water, and either lime, gypsum, or cement, which forms a smooth hard surface on walls, ceilings, and other structures upon drying
3 Structural walls: (Also known as Load-bearing walls) A wall that supports the weight of the house, transferring it to the foundation
4 Concrete slab: A flat area of concrete that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a patio or a driveway
5 Blueprints: A technical drawing of an architectural design. Traditionally these were made using a printing process that produced a white line on a blue background. They can also be made with CAD software and a large-scale printer
6 Crown molding: A decorative finish that adds interest to the area where the top of a window meets the wall, or lines the area where the wall meets the ceiling
7 Caulking: A chemical sealant used to fill in and seal gaps where two materials join, for example, the tub and tile, to create a watertight and airtight seal. The term "caulking" is also used to refer to the process of applying this type of sealant
8 Stucco: A type of durable plaster finish made of aggregates, a binder, and water (traditionally Portland cement, sand, and water) used on masonry, walls, ceilings, and decorative moldings
9 Asbestos: A group of fire-resistant silicate minerals found in construction materials including paint, particularly in older homes. When the asbestos deteriorates, particles can become airborne and this is a serious health hazard.
10 Lead: A naturally occurring heavy metal that is highly toxic to humans, and has been used in paint, gasoline, piping, and other applications

Cost to remove a wall varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Ann Arbor, MI
+13%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Baldwin, NY
+31%
Belton, TX
-24%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boise, ID
-11%
Charleston, SC
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Durham, NC
-1%
Eau Claire, WI
-5%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Goleta, CA
+5%
Greenville, SC
-12%
Honolulu, HI
+35%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Keene, TX
-22%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Leicester, MA
+11%
Little Rock, AR
0%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Murfreesboro, TN
-7%
Nashville, TN
+21%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
New York, NY
+77%
Norfolk, VA
-6%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Oceanside, CA
+8%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Palm Bay, FL
-16%
Paramus, NJ
+31%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Picayune, MS
+39%
Port Saint Lucie, FL
-18%
Portland, OR
+11%
Quincy, FL
-14%

Labor cost in your zip code

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Methodology and sources