Destruction Zone – Open Blog Hop   6 comments

Do you like to read? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the MMB Open Book Blog Hop each Wednesday and they will tell all. Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

Topic of the Week? Are you crafty? Do you do DIY projects?

Thank You, Kelly Williams, for introducing me. I hope you all learned a great craft over on the Blue Honor Blog and spent some time checking out Kelly’s wonderful books.

Alaskans tend to be crafty because we have these long winters that keep us indoors for months at the dark months. And I thought about doing a quilting post, but then I decided to be a little different and do something with construction … well, actually destruction.

Is that wall between your kitchen and your dining room driving you crazy?

My husband is an electrician with cross training in other construction trades, so when he decided that it was time to move the furnace out of the center of what could be the largest room in the house, he enlisted the aid of our teenage son and myself. This is the first third of a home improvement project that pretty much anyone can do. The second and third parts takes more skills, but I’m not going to cover them here because it is site- and project-dependent.

STEP 1:

Determine if the offending wall is a weight-bearing wall. If you know nothing about home construction, STOP and ask someone who does to advise you. You can often still partially remove a weight-bearing wall, but it takes more skills than what I’m describing.

CHECK: The walls we were removing were non-bearing walls. How do I know? My husband has experience, but we also have the example of the house across the street, which is the same plan as ours. It has no wall in this area and there are no signs of structural sagging.

STEP 2:

Gather your tools. You really need minimal tools. A sledge hammer is fun, but if you’re a small woman like me, it quickly tires you out to swing it. I settled for a framing hammer. A cats claw is a small crowbar that helps you to pry sheet rock loose and pull nails while doing minimal damage to the sheet rock. A crowbar/prybar is a larger tool that gives you more leverage than a cats claw, but expect gouges in the sheet rock, which is fine if you’re planning to throw it all away. A utility knife with sharp blades. A step ladder. A kneeling pad. A waste barrel is a good idea so you can throw away the sheet rock as you remove it from the studs. A big broom and dust pan are also useful.

STEP 3

Gather your personal protective gear. If you’re working over your head, get a hard hat. They can be purchased at home improvement stores. Gloves are a must — heavy leather is best. Safety glasses are a must. Hearing protection is a good idea. Wear long pants and an old shirt. Cover your hair — I used an old t-shirt to create a doo-rag. Wear heavy shoes — I used my light-hikers, my son wore a pair of his dad’s steel-toed work boots (he was also removing flooring, so these were invaluable for that). Use a mask. A respirator would be better, but not absolutely necessary. You do need a dust mask, however — or a bandana, something to keep the gypsum out of your lungs.

STEP 4:

Prepare you subject area.

Seal off the rest of the house from the debris. Sheet rock is DUSTY.  Our project room is the second floor of a four-level California split, so we sealed off the door going upstairs to the living room using a sheet of heavy visqueen and closed the door to the basement and taped the threshhold to prevent dust infiltration. We then used the door to the garage and walked around the house to go upstairs when needed. Since it’s summer here, we merely turned off the forced air furnace and shoved a couple of pairs of old jeans in the ducts to prevent dust infiltration. If this is between your kitchen and dining room, you should probably cover furniture with sheets, duct tape cabinets shut, etc.

STEP 5:

Familiarize yourself with the construction of the wall you’re about to destroy. If you’ve never done construction, it’s best to remove the sheetrock first and then remove the studs. Why? Because the foreman (aka, my husband) said so. Once we did it, I could see his reasoning. If it turns out this is a weight-bearing wall, the stud wall will Usually stud walls are made up of 2×4 (occasionally 2×6) uprights attached to sills of similar material top and bottom, spaced about 16″ on center. Construction practices vary. Trust me, it’s painful when you hit a stud and you’re not expecting to, so it’s best to know they’re there before you start swinging. You can use your knuckles, the hammer or a stud-finder (electronic device available at most home improvement stores) to locate the studs. Because all three of us are familiar with construction practices, we “winged” it, but some people mark the position of studs on the sheetrock.

If you have electrical and/or plumbing in the wall you want to remove, you should shut the electricity off at the breaker box, Tape the breaker in the closed position, close the breaker box, tape or wire it shut and post a sign DO NOT TOUCH THIS! Do not take a risk of electrocution. If there’s plumbing in the wall, locate the shut-off valve, close it and then drain the water at the fixture. That way, if your hammer goes astray, you won’t flood your house.

Step 6.

Swing away! Locate the center of a bay (the space between two studs) and slam your hammer into it. You’re committed now, so just keep making the hole bigger. If you’re not having fun by the end of the bay, you don’t know how to have fun. This is extremely therapeutic creative destruction. My son and I had little contests going — how big of a piece could we remove, could we make a hole in one swing, how many times in a row could we break the sheetrock with one swing, etc.

When you have a large piece of sheetrock broken loose, you use the cats claw and crowbar to pry the rock from the studs. My son could actually grab the rock with his hands and wriggle the nails loose by using the rock as his prybar. I then followed with the cats claw removing the nails.

There are a couple of areas that are not so fun. Up by the ceiling, down by the floor and at the corners. Standing on the stepladder, use the utility knife to score the sheetrock up at the ceiling and in the corner where the wall you’re removing meets walls you want to keep. This gives a nice clean break between the two surfaces without damaging the adjacent ceiling or wall. Wait until you have the bays open. Using the prybar, get in behind the rock and either pry it loose so it breaks at the ceiling or (my favorite) try tapping it loose with your hammer. If you’ve scored properly, the break should be clean. If you are a finesse worker, use the kneeler pad and cats claw to remove the sheet rock from the floor sill or use the hammer from behind to batter it off. When you get to the corner, you will probably encounter a corner bead backed by a triple 2×4. This is where the cats claw and crowbar become invaluable tools often used in concert.

Step 7:

All the sheetrock is off the studs now and it’s time to clean up. My husband is a big believer in letting the building settle before he tackles the next phase. That caution has saved him a couple of times, so who am I to argue. Sweeping up gypsum is hard work. Keep your PPE on. If at all possible, get the debris out of the project area. After we were done sweeping, we went over the area with a shop vacuum. Now it is time to clean yourself up. If at all possible, do this in the project area rather than track gypsum through your house.

For us, there is a bathroom just beside the project room, so we went in there individually to chuck our work clothes, shower and dress in clean. We put our work clothes in plastic bags for the next phase of work rather than running gypsum-laden clothes through our washer more than once. My husband checked the electrical to assure the wiring was still intact and then he re-energized the wall. We carefully pulled back the vacuumed visqueen sheet for use later in the project. We had no plumbing to worry about.

Go outside, breath deeply, watch a nice movie, eat a good dinner and revel in your sense of (partial) accomplishment.

Wow, that dark back room that nobody ever wanted to be in is now lit by sun from the too small front room. When the studs come down, this will be a great room to host the Sunday School Christmas party or play ping pong and the library can finally come out the damp basement where the wood stove tends to make things smell of smoke.

So now you know how I spend my weekends when I’m not writing. Please visit PJ McLayne‘s Mountain Musings for some more great crafts and check out her books while you’re at it.

Posted July 7, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

6 responses to “Destruction Zone – Open Blog Hop

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  1. Wow! What a job. My husband would love to be in on this!

    Like

    christineardigo
    • Does he like to travel? My husband loves to start projects and eventually finishes them, but it can take him FOREVER. It’s his job as well as a hobby, so the clients come first and we wait. In this case, it is not a room we use daily, so he will be even less motivated to get to it. It will be lovely when its done, but patience is so very much required.

      Like

  2. Oh my goodness!! That’s a lot of work!! Good luck, and post finished pics when you manage to complete that project!

    Like

  3. Wow, that’s fabulous. I love stuff like this. You go girl!

    Like

  4. Pingback: Getting Crafty with Your Favorite Indie Authors - Open Book Blog Hop #12 - K. Williams

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