My bedroom has only one closet, which admittedly is rather normal, but I want to turn that closet into a sound booth so I can do voice talent. Turning the closet into a sound booth means that I need to find another place to put my clothes and stuff. Fortunately for me the room adjacent to mine has a very deep closet, something about nine feet, and it runs along the side of my room. There is no reason, that I can think of why I would every need that big of a closet for a single room, so I had the brilliant idea of adding a second entry into the closet space, making it accessible from either room. Being single as I am now it doesn't pose any problems, and in the future when I hopefully get married and have some kids, well that's what doors are for. Enough jabbering about the why, lets talk about the how.
For starters I moved most everything out of my room, cutting through lathe and plaster makes a dusty mess. Drywall is probably just as bad, but I don't have drywall walls so I can't speak on that point. I also had to pull the trim off the floor along that wall, as the doorway will reach down to the floor. To find where to put the opening I measure sixteen inches out from the edge of the wall, made a small mark and then using a small drill bit drilled a series of holes to find th edge of the stud. You could also use a stud finder, but I'm cheap and don't currently own one of those. Studs are usually sixteen inches on center, so I just measured thirty-two inches over to find out where the third stud should be located. I'll be taking out the second/center stud to make a doorway something around thirty inches wide. Once I had the studs both located I made a series of measurements and then drew connecting lines with a yardstick to show where I should be cutting. I drilled holes in the corners so I would just be cutting straight lines with my jigsaw. Using a special blade designed for cutting lathe and plaster I cut along the top of the door and the sides. To determine the proper height I just measured how high my other doors in the house were and cut around that height.
I had previously cut the wall out from the closet side, but due to the configuration of the closet there was no way to really take any pictures of that process, but it was the exact same as cutting the wall on the room side, so basically this process was just done twice. In the picture you can see that I've broken a part of the wall out, and have a hole that goes into the closet. The white lines are cut marks. At this point it was time to start breaking the lathe and plaster down. I was able to take if off mostly in large chunks which really helped with keeping down the dust and reducing the amount of time needed to clean the mess up. When it was all said and done I had a wonderful hole, with a stud running through the middle of it.
As you can see in the picture there is not just a stud running through the middle of the hole, but there are also two two by fours stacked on the subfloor for the studs to sit on. My understanding is that those boards are to make sure the weight from the wall is evenly spread over the boards below it. In my case the wall was not load bearing, and the floor joists ran nearly exactly under the studs, which means that the weight transfers directly through those two by fours and I can cut out all I need to without any problems.
As I mentioned before this wall isn't load bearing, but I wanted to do the job right, so I put a header in to span the opening and to support the portion of the stud that will be above what I'm taking out. A header requires a couple things to really accomplish it's purpose, which is to give the weight of the wall above it someway of transferring down. First and most important it needs to be made of something that can support the weight without flexing too much or even breaking, and secondly there needs to be something for the header to sit on, just screwing the header into the studs on the side won't cut it.
I cut two, two by fours to height and put them along side the existing studs, at this point they are not yet affixed in any fashion, they are just there for show. :P At this point I cut out the stud from the center and then cut that board into two boards that will fit between the existing studs. The stud was easily cut out with a reciprocating saw, and cut to length with a chop-saw, though a circular saw would have worked as well. I screwed the two boards together and then placed them into the opening. Somehow I managed to get all the sizes nearly perfect so once I pushed the header up, and got the new studs in place everything fit perfectly.
At this point the only thing left to do was to removed the two by fours from the bottom so I could have an even floor. I marked where the extra studs came to, then pulled them out and cut the board with my reciprocating saw. Once they were out I put the header and studs back in place and screwed it all in place. Now I had a problem, the subfloor looked ugly, and was obviously lower than the floor of the room and closet, but I didn't have any flooring. Fortunately though, the closet had had a dresser in it, that I removed before starting this project and I was able to use some of the boards from that to create a floor, and while it's not a perfect match, and is obviously something that was put in after the fact it looks pretty good.
The floors all need to be refinished, and when I do that they'll probably match a little better. I have not yet put any trim around the doorway as I'm not sure what I'm doing for a door. I might do a swing door, or possibly a sliding door. Depending on what I go with the finishing out of the door will be different. I did cut the trim so it matches fairly close to the opening so I can walk in and out of the space without kicking into the trim or having to step over it, as that was be really annoying.
All in all this project probably took about six hour, including cleaning up, and excluding the tools only cost about five dollars for the two two by fours that I needed and a handful of screws. Cleaning up probably took more time that actually cutting the wall out. The fine dust from the plaster just got everywhere, I was very glad that I had decided to wear a dust mask, even though I question how good of a job it did, I know it was better than not using one.
In closing, go, go out, cut a hole through your wall and add extra entrances into your closets. Before starting though make sure you don't have any plumbing or electric running through the wall, as that could get messy. I knew there was none in my wall because I had just done all the electric, and there would be no reason for plumbing to run through as it ends at the front of the house.