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How to Build a Bar Pass-through

Cabinet, Countertops, Kitchen June 25, 2009 Matt Weber

Break on Through to the Other Side: Knock through a wall to build an awesome bar pass-through.





My wife and I bought our home because we saw its potential, not because we were in love with the existing design. In fact, we felt the upper level was a little claustrophobic and we wanted a more open floor plan so family members in the kitchen could easily chat with friends in the family room. When we bought the house, the kitchen and family room were completely separated by a partition wall. Well, we made short work of that wall and now enjoy a new bar pass-through that brings a more spacious feel to the house and provides two additional seats for those big family dinners. Here’s how we knocked down a wall and built up a pass-through.

Tear it Down

I began the pass-through by carefully removing the baseboard along the wall. First, cut the caulk bead with a utility knife. Then, starting at the end of a baseboard run, work a pry bar behind the baseboard, pressing downward so the tongue is against the sill plate, and pry the baseboard away from the wall. Be sure to pry against the 2-by-4 sill plate and not against the unsupported drywall, or your pry bar will likely break through the drywall rather than achieve any leverage. Drywall damage won’t matter in the areas that you’re tearing down, but will require an extra repair everywhere else. I removed the baseboard in whole pieces, and then pulled the nails and filled the holes with putty so they could be painted and reinstalled.

The first rule of thumb for wall demolition is to approach the job safely. At the breaker box, disconnect any power supply to nearby wall outlets, and use a volt detector to verify that no electricity is actively running through the wall.

Make sure all power is disconnected from the wall you’re about to demolish.

I then used an electric stud finder to locate and mark the framing studs. We chose to remove only a 5-foot wide section in the middle of the wall, so we made careful note of which areas of the wall to leave undamaged.

There was nothing scientific about the first few strikes to the wall. After verifying there were no water pipes or live wires behind the drywall, I sunk a 22-ounce framing hammer into the “soft spots” between the studs and began removing the crumbling, pathetic chunks of drywall that dared to challenge the brute force of my mighty blows. (Tearing down walls makes me feel like a Spartan.)

After opening the wall, a drywall saw allows you to remove the wallboard in large sections.

At the two studs that bordered our tear-out area, we set aside the hammer in favor of a drywall saw, which provided a smooth, controlled cut along the studs so we’d have a reasonably straight drywall joint for our rebuilding phase. Because drywall demolition generates a lot of dust and debris, we only employed the hammer tactic on one side of the wall. To minimize the mess, we used the drywall saw to penetrate the wallboard from the rear on the opposite wall, which allowed us to disassemble the drywall panel in larger, more orderly sections. Be sure to razor-cut the joints at the top, where the drywall meets the ceiling, to avoid ceiling damage.

Cut the drywall joint so it separates from the ceiling without damage.

In fact, I should stress this point further … tearing down walls is extremely messy. Dust covers everything and spreads throughout the house into seemingly impossible nooks and crannies. I highly advise wrapping plastic over everything you want to keep clean, and use some strategically placed box fans to create an outdoor draft near the work area. We did take a more laissez-faire approach in our case because we were undergoing a full-house remodel and the place was a train wreck anyway, but be advised that wall demo calls for major cleanup.