How to Cut a Pass-Through in a Load Bearing Wall | Ask This Old House

Build It
Ask This Old House general contractor helps a couple frame an opening between their kitchen and living room in a load bearing wall.
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Time: 4-6 hours

Cost: $150-200

Skill Level: Moderate

Shopping List:
2×4 lumber [https://amzn.to/2zwt6PF] for the temporary wall and the framing of the opening
2×8 lumber [https://amzn.to/34cOcks] for the temporary wall
2×12 lumber [https://amzn.to/2ZCm1YB] for the header
1/2 inch plywood [https://amzn.to/2MLIsbA] for the header
3 inch construction screws [https://amzn.to/2MIC6tT]

Tools List for Cutting a Pass-Through in a Load Bearing Wall:
Drill driver [https://amzn.to/2ZB9WCN]
Power saw [https://amzn.to/2zAba6V]
6 foot level [https://amzn.to/2NFNuGw]
Reciprocating saw [https://amzn.to/2zvPqsX]

Steps:
1. Before doing any work, determine if the wall is load bearing or non-load bearing. If in doubt, consult a structural engineer.
2. If the wall is load bearing, a temporary wall will need to built using 2×8 plates on the floor and ceiling and 2×4 studs at an angle to support any weight from the floors above.
3. Hammer the studs into the temporary wall until they’re snug.
4. Use a drill/driver to secure a brace across the studs.
5. Use a level to draw the outline for the opening. Cut the opening using a reciprocating saw.
6. Remove the wall board and studs in the area of the new opening.
7. If needed, fill any extra space with studs.
8. 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.
9. Install two sill plates into the bottom of the opening. Secure them with screws.
10. Create a header for the new opening using two 2×12 boards with a piece of _” plywood sandwiched in between with construction adhesive and screws.
11. Install the header in the opening. Install the additional jack studs inside the opening for the header to rest on.
12. Attach the jack studs and header using screws.
13. With the header in place, the temporary wall can be removed.
14. Use the reciprocating saw to cut the drywall on the other side of the opening.
15. Touch up the drywall or plaster around the opening.

Resources:
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.

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Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Cut a Pass-Through in a Load Bearing Wall | Ask This Old House
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