How To Remove an Intact Piece of Drywall
Occasionally I have to open a section of
wall to make a repair, for instance to replace a section of broken pipe.
It saves me a lot of repair and patching time if I can preserve the section
of drywall and then reinstall it when the repair work is done. Furthermore,
some texturing is fairly difficult to replicate. I find it much easier
to just patch the joints and fastener holes than to try to blend an entire
section with the rest of the wall.
There are two scenarios I typically encounter. The first is accessing
a section of wall between two studs. The second scenario is where the
area is wider than a single stud bay. In the first case, I locate the
position of the studs and then cut the drywall just inside the stud.
In other words, I cut through the drywall where it has no stud behind
it. I then look for the edge of the other stud, in most cases about 14
inches over, and cut there. In order to prevent the piece of drywall
from falling into the stud bay, I drive a screw part way into the center
of the section of drywall and use it as a handle. I then cut across the
top and bottom and remove the piece. Because there may be unexpected
wires or pipes in the stud bay, I make very shallow cuts, just deep enough
to get through the drywall, about 5/8 of an inch thick in most cases.
I use a drywall saw, but a razor knife will help ensure you don't go
Some people like to cut down the center of the stud so that they have
something to fasten the piece back to. That is fine except that it leaves
a very small area for fasteners, and you may also have to fasten the
section of wall you didn't remove in addition to the piece you did remove.
Instead, I nail a small section of 2x4 to the existing 2x4's and then
use that to refasten the drywall section.
In the case of drywall fastened over a section wider than a stud bay,
I make all my cuts and then gently flex the wallboard. The screws or
nails will often telegraph through the finish allowing me to locate and
remove them. In this way I preserve the section and only have to patch
the small holes for the fasteners. This does not always work, and when
it doesn't I carefully pull the drywall away from the wall to pull the
fastener through the back of the wallboard. If neither works, or the
piece is just too big, then I cut each section from each stud bay and
leave the narrow strips that are fastened to the studs. When I replace
the piece, I do it the same way as described above.