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How to Open a Doorway for an Arch

Follow these instructions to prepare a door opening to install an arched doorway.

More in Windows Walls and Doors

set arch in place

Step 1: Remove the Trim

Lay down some drop cloths to protect the flooring before you begin. Then, start by carefully prying off the existing trim. Use a pair of pliers to pull the nails out from the back side of the trim in case you want to reuse it later.

Step 2: Remove the Door Jambs

To remove the door jambs, use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails holding them in place.

removing the existing doorway frame

Step 3: Remove the Furring Strips

Remove the furring strips and then use a pry bar and hammer to begin opening up the wall. Once it's open you can see what kind of framing you have and determine if there are any hidden problems. Check for electrical outlets, switches, heating vents, etc.

chip away drywall in order to remove door frame

Step 4: Break Through the Wall

Break open the wall until you can see the stud. Then cut the plaster with a reciprocating saw using the stud as a guide. Tear the big pieces off as you go along. To lengthen the opening, reveal the existing header to ascertain what kind of framing you have. You may opt to remove studs later in the project, but you're better off using the existing framework.

pull away drywall from door frame

Step 5: Make a Temporary Brace

Make a temporary support using 2 x 6 boards. Cut them just a bit long and wedge them against the ceiling to support the load. Use screws to temporarily secure the brace.

creating new headers

Step 6: Measure and Mark the Cut Line

Measure up 5-1/2" from the doorframe (the true width of the 2 x 6 boards) and make a mark for the cut. Use a level to carry the mark straight across to the other studs.

Step 7: Cut the Short Studs

Use a reciprocating saw to cut the short studs above the door. Be sure to cut them off square, not at an angle.

removing old doorway frame

Step 8: Install the Header

To make the header, nail together a sandwich -- two pieces of 2 x 6 with a piece of plywood in between. Add contruction adhesive between the pieces for extra reinforcement.

Set the header in place as shown in the image. It should just slide into place if it's cut correctly -- you may need to do some minor adjusting with a hammer. If there is a gap between the header, you may need to insert some shims before you nail the header into place.

creating the new doorway header

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