Opening up a wall to create a doorway can put a whole new spin on the way traffic moves through your home, sometimes making rooms more accessible and therefore usable. cutting doorway into a wallBut before you cut a hole in a wall to add a doorway, be clear about what you might encounter.

Walls conceal a host of surprises, including wiring, pipes, and ducts that almost inevitably end up being just where you want the door to be. Investigate where these or similar obstructions are located before determining where your new opening should go. (See How to Open Up a Wall.)

If you find pipes, ducts, or extensive wiring in the way, the easiest and least expensive option is to modify your plan for the door’s location, unless you are comfortable with a variety of DIY tasks. Rerouting utilities can be quite involved, usually requires a permit, and is regulated by local building codes.

Basic Framing of An Interior Wall ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Understanding the basic structure of a wall is important. This illustration shows how an interior wall is framed. Wall studs are typically spaced 16 or 24 inches from center to center. A bottom plate runs along the base and a top plate is located at the top.

Where there is a door or window, the wall studs are removed and the opening is bridged by a header that is supported by extra studs at each end.

In some cases, fire blocks midway up the wall add support and a nailing backer for wall-covering materials.

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About Don Vandervort
An avid builder and remodeler, Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort