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Old 02-13-2007, 10:15 PM   #1
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


I have a stairwell going down into my finished basement room. What I don't like about it, is that the stairwell is completely enclose to the bottom. I would like to open up the area that looks into the finished room. Being that the wall is looking in is a load bearing wall, I thought that I could cut out open window frames between each 2x4, which are spaced 16" apart from each other. I could then frame out each section and it would help open up the room some.

Does this seem like it would look pretty good? Any other ideas before I start this project?

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Old 02-13-2007, 11:05 PM   #2
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


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Originally Posted by ragtopdave06 View Post
I have a stairwell going down into my finished basement room. What I don't like about it, is that the stairwell is completely enclose to the bottom. I would like to open up the area that looks into the finished room. Being that the wall is looking in is a load bearing wall, I thought that I could cut out open window frames between each 2x4, which are spaced 16" apart from each other. I could then frame out each section and it would help open up the room some.

Does this seem like it would look pretty good? Any other ideas before I start this project?
A.) Inspect that wall and see if there are OTHER supports that are installed under your main carrying beam....hidden in the wall.

The reason is because, a main carrying beam is rarely supported by just a 'wall'...The beam is usually supported by structural columns.....most often...these are ...'enclosed' ... in a wall. I do not know the actual age of your home (and thus the design of it...and wheter there are structural columns)...But you should inspect for this.
If you do find that there are actual columns or re-inforced supports.....
then, yes.....you can create "pass-thru's" of some kind...

But, the important point is to inspect that wall first.... (You obviosuly know that)

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Old 02-13-2007, 11:41 PM   #3
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


Yep, that is very important to me to make sure I don't do something that will cause problems with the support of the house. My house was built in 1997. There is no other support other than a solid wall of 2x4's every 16", which I know, because I finished the basement.

Is there a particular tool that would be best to cut out the drywall that would cut down on waste and possible mess ups? When I installed the drywall, we cut the edges around the doorways with a utility knife. It worked pretty well, but if I could use a small blade and get the same results, it could work. Like a jigsaw or reciprocating saw. I just want to follow the same way that professionals do it.

I'm no contractor, and not really much of a remodeler, but I have basic skills and enough sense to ask someone that knows more before taking on a task. I finished my basement on my own, and it turned out really great, but before doing it, I asked a lot of questions.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:51 AM   #4
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


I have cut out drywall with a jigsaw and it throws dust all over the place. Using a power tool is faster, but also allows miscuts to occur very quickly. A jabsaw (hand operated) is an effective tool for drywall.
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:58 PM   #5
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


for less than 10 years old house, it is hard to believe the the house is support by 2x4 wood stud ... "load baring wall"... consider the weight of a house.... I mean it makes sense in the first floor... but for basement.... this is kind of too weak a support..... normally basement is support by those thick steel I shape beam then the solid steel/concrete columns.... by 2x4 wood beams... are you really sure.... I suspect that what is not load bearing at all.. it just there to build the stairs to the first floor... if this is the case, you can cut it into half wall... I did exact same in my basement...
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Old 02-14-2007, 02:59 PM   #6
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


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Originally Posted by ragtopdave06 View Post
Yep, that is very important to me to make sure I don't do something that will cause problems with the support of the house. My house was built in 1997. There is no other support other than a solid wall of 2x4's every 16", which I know, because I finished the basement.

Is there a particular tool that would be best to cut out the drywall that would cut down on waste and possible mess ups? When I installed the drywall, we cut the edges around the doorways with a utility knife. It worked pretty well, but if I could use a small blade and get the same results, it could work. Like a jigsaw or reciprocating saw. I just want to follow the same way that professionals do it.

I'm no contractor, and not really much of a remodeler, but I have basic skills and enough sense to ask someone that knows more before taking on a task. I finished my basement on my own, and it turned out really great, but before doing it, I asked a lot of questions.

Yes: you simply draw out the area to be cut-out using a straight edge for nice straight lines.
Then use a utility knife to score the lines...again using a straight edge.
Then use a roto-zip or dremel with a drywall cutting bit....

To reduce dust, have a helper with a shop vac hold the wand of the vacuum next to the tool as you are cutting....it will suck up 95% of all the dust....
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:03 PM   #7
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


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Yes: you simply draw out the area to be cut-out using a straight edge for nice straight lines.
Then use a utility knife to score the lines...again using a straight edge.
Then use a roto-zip or dremel with a drywall cutting bit....

To reduce dust, have a helper with a shop vac hold the wand of the vacuum next to the tool as you are cutting....it will suck up 95% of all the dust....
Oh yeah, a dremel would be great! I never even thought about using that! I'll head out to Lowes and look for a tool that will cut drywall. Thanks for that advice. I'll do that exactly. I'll post some before and after pictures when I get it done.
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:07 PM   #8
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


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for less than 10 years old house, it is hard to believe the the house is support by 2x4 wood stud ... "load baring wall"... consider the weight of a house.... I mean it makes sense in the first floor... but for basement.... this is kind of too weak a support..... normally basement is support by those thick steel I shape beam then the solid steel/concrete columns.... by 2x4 wood beams... are you really sure.... I suspect that what is not load bearing at all.. it just there to build the stairs to the first floor... if this is the case, you can cut it into half wall... I did exact same in my basement...
Well, not being an engineer, or knowing anything about building a house, I just supposed it was a load bearing wall. My house is a cape cod, so you know what that style is. In the basement, it has a wall of 2x4's running from side to side, and another wall running front to back. That's all there is. No metal or concrete columns. The floor joists are pretty strong looking though, not what you would see on mid range homes built 30 years or so ago.
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Old 02-14-2007, 07:06 PM   #9
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


If you look at the floor joists the beam will be supporting them in the center of the home. You must have columns to support the beam unless your house is like 10' long. They very well might be buried in the wall you say runs the length of the house. But they are most assuredly there.
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:32 PM   #10
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Cutting drywall to put in windows down a stairwell


I think the point is that....this must not be a load bearing wall as Kui****g thought.

....As stated...There would be posts and supports in a wall that is under a main carrying beam.....and these would be very obvious....

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