How to Remove Drywall Without Making a Mess

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Removing drywall (Photo: @AZ.BLT via Twenty20)
Depending on your point of view, removing drywall might feel like an arduous task or it might look like a whole lot of fun. On the one hand, do-it-yourself demolition tasks can be really enjoyable, and drywall is easy to take out and not physically strenuous. On the other hand, it sure can be messy.
Breaking down drywall can often feel like making bread. Even if it’s going smoothly, it leaves a cloud of white dust in its wake. That can be intimidating for a lot of do-it-yourself people interested in home improvement projects who want to remove their drywall themselves to save some money.
But fear not. Removing drywall doesn’t have to be a messy task. If you take the right precautions, it can be straightforward and clear of messy disasters. Read on to find out how to remove drywall without making a mess.

Removing Drywall

Step 1: Lay a drop cloth or sheet. Before you actually tackle the drywall itself, make sure that you have an area to catch the drywall powder. You won’t be making a big mess, but it’s inevitable that some drywall will crumble as you go. Lay a drop cloth or sheet on the floor underneath the surfaces you’re working on, so that all of the drywall mess is easily contained.
Take this time to clean anything out of the room that’s valuable, too, or that you don’t want dust to get on. The fewer options you leave for a mess to be made, the better off you’ll be.
Step 2: Remove the moldings and electrical outlets. Now that your workspace is ready, it’s time to examine the walls. Before you get to removing the drywall, you want to remove anything that’s on the drywall. That doesn’t just mean paintings and other things hanging from the walls, but also the moldings at the base of the drywall, and the covers to electrical outlets or switches.
Step 3: Look for screws and nails. Drywall is usually held in place with screws and nails. Sometimes those screws and nails won’t be visible, but often you’ll be able to see them. If you find any screws, use a phillips head screwdriver to remove them. If you see any nails, try to use the back of a hammer or a nail remover to pull them out. If you can’t get them out without digging and making a mess, then save them for later, work around them, and return to them when the rest of the work is done.
Step 4: Locate any obstacles. Use a stud finder to run over the wall and see where the studs are, and where any other obstacles like pipes might be. Use a pencil to mark on the wall where these obstacles are, so that you can be careful when working near them.
Step 5: Use a utility knife. A lot of people like to dive into drywall with heavy-duty tools, but the bigger and more powerful the tool, the larger the mess. If possible, use a utility knife to do simple and tidy work. It will make for a much cleaner drywall removal.
Step 6: Start from the bottom. Now that you’ve started removing the drywall, you want to begin at the bottom of the walls. Start at the bottom and work your way up. It will not only be easier for you, but will result in the dust pooling on the drop cloths rather than accumulating on the drywall as you work.
Step 7: Work in small batches. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you try and remove too big of a piece of drywall, you run the risk of making a big mess. Remove small pieces at a time, to keep the project and the mess manageable.
Step 8: Stop to vacuum. As you notice dust accumulating, take a moment to vacuum or sweep it up. This will keep you from tracking the drywall dust as you work. Maintain a clean workspace, and the work will in turn be clean.