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. But 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.
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.