How to Enlarge a Load-Bearing Doorway

By Jared Lewis , last updated March 13, 2012
A load-bearing doorway is a door located in a load-bearing wall, which is a wall that supports the weight of the home. Because of the support it provides, you must take great care and plan carefully before trying to enlarge a load-bearing door or alter a load-bearing wall in any way.
  1. Consult a structural engineer to determine the limits of what you can do with your load-bearing door. You need to determine how far your doorway can be opened, if at all.
  2. Turn off your electricity once you have determined the extent you will enlarge your doorway. Even if you don't have any electrical outlets near the door, it's a good idea to turn it off in case there is a wire running somewhere near your work area.
  3. Remove the trim from around your doorway. Use a small pry bar to pull it back away from the wall. Remove the baseboard trim away from the wall with the pry bar, since you will be enlarging the doorway and taking out a portion of the wall.
  4. Place two 4-by-4 beams under both edges of the doorway to provide additional support. Cut these beams so you can wedge them up under the doorway and won't need to nail or secure the beams in place.
  5. Mark your wall around the doorway where you intend to create your new space. Use a pencil and a 2-by-4 or a yardstick to mark the opening.
  6. Drill a starter hole in the corner of the new opening. Cut out the drywall and any studs using a sawzall tool, beginning at the starter hole. Cut all the way to the old door opening and also vertically to the floor. Repeat the process on the other side of the door if you are opening up the wall in both directions.
  7. Tear away the drywall and the studs using your hands or the pry bar. Knock out any stubborn pieces with a hammer.
  8. Measure and cut a new door post. Use 2-by-4 boards for this purpose. Nail these to the outer edge of your new doorway. Create additional support by gluing and nailing a second post right next to the other posts.
  9. Measure and cut lintel pieces for the top of the doorway. Use a 4-by-4 support beam for this purpose. Nail this into place using a metal joist hanger. The hangers are metal braces used to hang roofing beams.
  10. Remove the safety support beams. Replace the trim, do any paint touchups and turn back on your electricity.
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