We Put An Opening In A Block Wall
Why did we decide to put an opening in a block wall? Well, it all began when my wife decided she needed a shorter distance from one room to another (figures). Though I am familiar with frame construction I have done little to none block work. My first thoughts were to call the pros; however, I really thought I could do the job myself. If I followed all the safety precautions, building codes, and did not get hurt, then, if I messed things up I could always call in professional help later.
For now, I decided to let myself put an opening in the 6in. block , non load bearing partition wall.I read all that I could on block construction supporting an opening, and watched as many YouTube and how-to videos that I could find, related to cutting an opening. After watching a few professionals using a wet saw I was almost ready to give up my idea and let someone else do the job. However, there was one video or so, of some person cutting a block wall with a skill saw fitted with a diamond blade. I am familiar with the skill saw, and Home Depot had the diamond blades. I was off to the races now.
I bought two blades at Home Depot. One was a 7 in. and the other was a 4 in. Both were for wet or dry use. I used the 4 in. on my Black and Decker hand held grinder. The skill saw I used was a Porter Cable with the blade visible on the left side so I was able the see the line I was cutting. I later found that this was not that critical, as the dust made when sawing more than blocked the view of the line. However the saw has a fitting for channeling the sawdust away (dust and block chips in this case) which made a perfect attachment for my ShopVac. I was able to capture a good portion of the dust right at the saw. Still, the ShopVac required emptying often to keep the dust down.
There still was a good amount of dust and I chose to use a respirator and a face shield as added precautions. The respirator is a must if you want to save your lungs and be able to breathe while sawing. I now know why the Pros use a wet saw. So I now had the proper tools assembled, or at least the ones I felt would get the job done and still allow me to keep my health. At this point I decided if these tools did not do the job then, I would be having someone else do it for me.
I used a Ryobi rechargeable drill that has a built in level on its top along with an 8 in. masonry drill bit. I drilled the top holes (at each top corner the framing size for an opening of a 36 in. wide door) completely through the block to its other side. Drill bits come in different lengths and the 8 in. one was perfect for the 6 in. block. I used the level on the drill to keep the holes straight, and I just eyeballed the perpendicular right, left. I then snapped chalk lines, on both sides of the wall. I would be adding the framing support for the door using 2 x 6 in. lumber.
The chalk lines were cut on both sides as the saw blade is shallow, but deep enough to reach through the block to its hollow center. I originally adjusted the blade for an even shallower cut. As I became more familiar with its use I reset it for the deepest setting. I might add that cutting through the mortar joints was much easier than cutting the solid block.
After I finished cutting the opening I made another cut above the doorway on each side. The cut extended 6 in. on each side at the top. This was to allow a metal support to be added for strength above the doorway and to allow me to re-rout an electrical outlet. Code calls for 6 in. metal or a pressure treated concrete piece. I believe Home Depot has the concrete piece.
The doorway was now cut and it was time to remove the block. I found that by using a hammer and a chisel that I, oops,( me and my wife), were able to chip out enough mortar to loosen the block. Then I used a block of wood and the hammer to finish loosening the blocks to the point where I could remove them. When all of the blocks had been removed, I found I was left with some solid and some hollow blocks on the side and top. I placed 2×4 lengths in the hollow openings, and anchored them with foam and a concrete patching material, and Tapcon screws where possible.
Finally I placed in my metal supports and attached the 2×6 wood frame to the block using Tapcon concrete screws. In addition, I attached the door frame to the wood using 2 1/2 galvanized wood screws. I finished up with mortar around the sides and silicone caulking in the wood seams.