How to Cut a Pass-Through in a Load Bearing Wall
Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a couple frame an opening between their kitchen and living room in a load bearing wall
- Before doing any work, determine if the wall is load bearing or non-load bearing. If in doubt, consult a structural engineer.
- If the wall is load bearing, a temporary wall will need to built using 2x8 plates on the floor and ceiling and 2x4 studs at an angle to support any weight from the floors above.
- Hammer the studs into the temporary wall until they’re snug.
- Use a drill/driver to secure a brace across the studs.
- Use a level to draw the outline for the opening. Cut the opening using a reciprocating saw.
- Remove the wall board and studs in the area of the new opening.
- If needed, fill any extra space with studs.
- Install the first jack studs on either side of the opening, with a small stud attached to hold the bottom plate of the new opening.
- Install two sill plates into the bottom of the opening. Secure them with screws.
- Create a header for the new opening using two 2x12 boards with a piece of ½” plywood sandwiched in between with construction adhesive and screws.
- Install the header in the opening. Install the additional jack studs inside the opening for the header to rest on.
- Attach the jack studs and header using screws.
- With the header in place, the temporary wall can be removed.
- Use the reciprocating saw to cut the drywall on the other side of the opening.
- Touch up the drywall or plaster around the opening.
Tom uses kiln-dried lumber and plywood to frame the pass through, which is available to buy at from lumber yards and home centers.
Tom also shares some tips for identifying a load-bearing wall, but ultimately cautions that a structural engineer is the best person to consult.