Removing the Walls

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Remodeling    by: ITC

If the walls running across the ends of the beam are load bearing, it may be possible to cut directly into them to form bearings. In thi situationa longer than normal padstone should be used to spread the load sideways, or it may be necessary to add some extra strengthening by toothing in a shallow pier.

You must make the complete opening while the load above is still supported by the temporary props. It is essential to have all the necessary tools, equipment and materials to hand so that you can proceed quickly with the job.

At floor level, either trim the masonry off flush with a solid floor, or just below a wooden one. In the latter case, take care not to break through any water proofing membrane.

If there is a difference of level between the floors of the two rooms, either build a wooden step or cast a concrete one in situ.

With the masonry removed, you can make the bearings. Lifting the beam into place will be heavy work so it is as well to do a little preparation beforehand. To avoid the need for lifting the beam from floor level to the ceiling in one go, support it on trestles or pairs of stepladders, setting it so that you can get hold of it easily.

Set the coarse adjustment of the jack posts that will support the beam so that they can be set in place quickly and the fine adjustment made without fuss.

Lift the beam into place on the capstones and check that it is square across the room by taking measurements from nearby fixed points. Set the jack posts in place and tighten them until the beam comes up tight against the joists or masonry above. Check that the beam is completely level and make any fine adjustments with the posts.

At this stage you can remove the posts holding the joists, but leave any needles in place.

Trowel a layer of mortar between the top of the capstone and the underside of the beam and then tap pieces of slate into place to wedge the beam tightly upwards. You may need to insert two or even three pieces. Do the same at the other bearing, making sure it forms as tight a wedge as possible.

Finish off by pointing more mortar round the ends of the beam and capstone. If it is set on bearings cut into the end walls, fill the cavities around the ends of the beam with whole bricks or offcuts and more mortar, pointing it neatly.

With the bearings finished, check along the top of the beam to make sure it is fully supporting the joists or masonry above. If there are any gaps they must be wedged out too. In the case of masonry, use mortar and more slate wedges. If it is a wood floor, drive slates between the beam and any joists that are not otherwise supported.

Allow the mortar to harden for at least two days before removing the jack posts from below the beam together with any needles and their posts. Fill the needle holes with brick offcuts and mortar, then make good the ceiling, adjacent walls and floor.

If you have used a steel beam, clad this in a material that will protect it from fire: do not leave it exposed. The usual method is to clad the beam with gypsum board on a wooden framework nailed to wedges hammered into the sides of the beam.

The corners of the gypsum board should be taped or fitted with metal corner beads and finish it.

Concrete beams can be directly plastered over, their surfaces being rough enough to provide a key for the floating and finish coats.

When the beam has been plastered, finish the piers as well, using battens or special beads to form the corners. (Beading is probably best since the piers project into the room slightly and are, therefore, more likely to be knocked.)

Finally, cut the baseboards to fit around the base of each pier.

If the wall is of the non-load-bearing variety, the job will be much simpler since there is no need to fit a beam.

With a masonry wall, simply hack off the plaster and remove it brick by brick or block by block from the ceiling down. Cut out any metal ties holding the partition to the end walls, or cut through any bricks or blocks that have been toothed into them. At floor level, trim the masonry off flush — it may just sit on top of the floor anyway.

Replace the ceiling, if necessary, by cutting back to the nearby joists and nailing on a fresh strip of gypsum board. Finish it off with a skim coat of plaster and repair any damage to the walls.

If the wall is a wood-framed stud partition, simply lever off the cladding and prise apart or unscrew the frame. Fill any holes in the adjoining walls and redecorate.

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