mark all drywall screws before remove drywall

How to remove drywall

Easy method: find and remove drywall screws..

Yes, yes, yes; I know you can remove drywall by punching a hole in it and pulling it to pieces with a hammer, but what if you need to be a bit more careful?

This week I’m working in an occupied home and I need to remove part of a wall and then fill in an existing doorway. I obviously don’t want to make a lot of unnecessary dust right? Plus I’ve got a million small jobs to do in around a dozen rooms in this place, so I don’t want to seal everything off with polythene and give myself access problems. I want to avoid making the dust in the first place, but how?

Easy; there’s a way to remove drywall gently; by removing the drywall screws and simply lifting it out, (incidentally, I’m going to re-use part of the drywall to fill in the aforementioned unwanted doorway, efficient huh?).

Finding drywall screws

But first you’ve got to find the drywall screws right? I’ve seen bad drywall jobs where you can literally see the screws by looking at the surface of the board at an angle with the light falling across the board. On a good job though, you’re going to need a secret weapon. A magnet, the smaller and stronger the better. I use these little , a little stack of them. These magnets are more than strong enough to find drywall screws, no matter how deep.

Arm yourself with the aforementioned magnets, an old screwdriver or a small wood chisel and of course a screwdriver. Holding your magnet loosely,  sweep it across the surface of the drywall. If it’s powerful enough, the magnet will jump on to the head of the screw as you pass over it.

Wait, lets remove this drywall step by step…

  1. Using the magnet and a pencil, find each screw and accurately mark the center with a cross.
    marking drywall screw positions before remove drywall

    (made up picture, I forgot to take a pic of this step lol!)…

  2. Use your tool to dig out the little bit of ‘mud’ or drywall filler covering each screw. Don’t worry too much about the mud in the ‘cross’; it’s usually so soft the screwdriver bit pushes it out on its own.remove drywall screw dig out mud covering
  3. Using your drill driver with a drywall bit (or a Philips No.2 bit in a pinch) simply back out and remove each screw.remove drywall screw
  4. Look at the base of the wall to find and mark the drywall board joints (hopefully) or go in-between where you found double screws close together, (this marks a join between two drywall boards over a stud).find and mark drywall joints prior to removing drywall
  5. Using a spirit level held vertically, use a sturdy craft knife to cut through the drywall joint tape where you found drywall board joints (or occasionally, you might find them horizontally), follow any double rows of screws basically.
  6. Cut the drywall tape in between the ceiling and wall too if applicable.
  7. Cut the drywall tape in any vertical corners too if applicable.
  8. Lever out one corner of the drywall board using a stiff scraper or flat wrecking bar and wiggle, pull and otherwise persuade the drywall board to come out.
  9. The first one is the most difficult, after that it’s all gravy.

There, you did it. An easy way to remove drywall, without bashing the place apart like a mad person.

Remove drywall following the “one, two and three” steps…

Following the first three steps, mentioned above to remove drywall, is for a reason. It saves having to swap tools for each and every screw and is therefore much faster than finding, digging out and removing each screw one by one. It’s all about ‘batching’, lumping together any aspects of a job which are the same to be more efficient.

BTW: Drywall, plasterboard, wallboard, gypsum panel, sheet rock, and gypsum board = all the same thing, or as near as dammit is to swearing. It’s all calcium sulfate dihydrate and paper…

And of course, if all the above seems like too much hassle, or you’re working on a job where making a monstrous mess doesn’t matter, there are of course, easier ways to remove drywall. Got big boots? Have at it… 😉

That’s all for today, hope it helped.

Stay well


p.s. often when you need to remove drywall, you need to put some back to tidy up the edges etc. Don’t forget my tips on putting in drywall screws properly… find them here: Drywall screws

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