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Old 08-11-2009, 10:37 AM   #1
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Punching door where window used to be.


We just bought a house that apparently had an addition built onto the back of it. What used to be the rear exterior wall is now an interior wall separating the master bedroom from where we want our office to be. I want to cut a doorway from the master bedroom directly to the office.

I can tell where there used to be a window in the exterior wall because there's a window-shaped bulge on both sides. My plan is to get in there with a saw or drywall router, and cut along the boundaries of the window, and then cut down and remove any wood below the window down to the floor. Then, I would line the gap with strips of drywall cut to the thickness of the wall (at this time, I just want an opening, I'm not trying to put in a swinging door, though I might want to put in a sliding door in the future).

But, I've never worked with drywall before, and I have no idea what to expect. For instance, there is an electrical outlet below the window. Is it usually a difficult project to re-route the electrical wiring to run over the door? Is there anything else in the walls I should watch out for? What is the recommended way to "scout out the territory" before I start cutting the wall in earnest?

In general, is there anything about cutting new doors in drywall that I should be careful about that isn't obvious just from thinking about the problem? Anything you wish somebody had told you before you did it for the first time?

I'm also interested in any further reading anybody might recommend. If my question is too vague, please tell me and I'll photograph whatever I need to in order to clarify it.

Thank you very much!
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:37 AM   #2
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Punching door where window used to be.


The window should have a header over it
As long as your doorway will be the same width you are OK using the existing header
If you need to widen the doorway you need to install a wider header
Electric can be fed from the top or the bottom. If you have an attic/basement then you may be able to check for wiring
I'd take the wall covering off 1st to see what is in there
Never know what was run where

So - just a drywalled opening?
I prefer to just use trim instead of any drywall


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Old 08-11-2009, 11:43 AM   #3
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Punching door where window used to be.


Thanks for the diagram! It really helps with the technical terms I saw people using when I searched this forum for "door" and "drywall".

There is no basement, but I might be able to get into the attic.

I'm thinking of cutting a modest hole to look around instead of taking off the whole panel.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:41 PM   #4
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Punching door where window used to be.


Turn off power to that receptacle (use a plugged in radio), remove the cover plate and two screws holding it in the box. Check with radio to make sure power is off - to both plug-ins. Pull the recep. plug out a ways.Look at the wires: if they are individually wrapped with insulation, there are probably knob and tube. If the wires have plastic insulation melt/formed on them, they are probably cable and newer. The sheathing around all wires may be seen entering the box inside. Knob and tube generally entered a box from the attic or crawl space, mostly going to that box only. The modern wires (cable), usually go to that box and 4 or more others, in a horizontal line about 18" above the floor, all around the room (every 12'). If that's the case, you will have to route around the opening, over or under, still keeping maximum 12' between boxes with new wire.

Be safe, G

Last edited by Gary in WA; 08-11-2009 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:23 AM   #5
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Punching door where window used to be.


I cut the exploratory hole and learned a few things. If the spot where I want to put a door really used to be a window, then whoever closed it up placed studs inside the former window frame. To tell whether studs are floor-to-ceiling or jack-studs, I'll need to remove the drywall covering where they join, won't I? Right now I've been cutting holes using a jig-saw, but I won't be able to cut drywall that's over the studs without damaging the studs, so what tool should I use for that?

Now that I'm not sure it really used to be a window (the window-shaped dent appears to be caused by lack of insulation in that area) I need to see if it even has a header. Do I have to remove the drywall all the way to the ceiling to find out, or is that something I'll be able to tell once I get into the attic?

What I do know from reaching upward into the hole I made and poking around is that whatever is at the top of that space, it is made of two horizontal beams with a small gap running between them, just like in the diagram Scuba_Dave posted.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:12 AM   #6
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Punching door where window used to be.


For cutting drywall in place I use a sawz-all with a blade shortened to 1/2" - this way you can cut right over the studs, wiring, etc. You can shorten the blade by just breaking it. I have not tried this with a jigsaw, but would think it could be done the same.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:39 AM   #7
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Punching door where window used to be.


[quote=f1r3br4nd;313360I'll need to remove the drywall covering where they join, won't I? Right now I've been cutting holes using a jig-saw, but I won't be able to cut drywall that's over the studs without damaging the studs, so what tool should I use for that?[/quote]

Jig saws make a lot of dust. Score the drywall with a knife and snap it, cut it with a hand saw or punch holes in it with a hammer. Cut the drywall on each side of the stud, and use your hands to pull it off. Remove enough drywall for your proposed door opening and get a good look to see what you have. Don't be afraid to make too large of a hole. It's often easier to fix one large hole than several smaller ones.
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