Bulkheads are the large cabinets often found hanging above your kitchen or bathroom. Sometimes they appear suspended from the ceiling, other times they are mounted against a wall and may or may not have a gap between the bulkhead top and ceiling. While bulkheads make great storage space in kitchens and bathrooms you may want to consider removing the bulkheads. Doing so frees up space and gives the bathroom or kitchen a more airy and open appearance. It also makes the room seem a bit larger and is a worthwhile consideration when a bath and kitchen remodeling project is being planned.
If you have decided a bath or kitchen remodeling will involve removing bulkheads you’ll need to do a few things first. The first step, and a very important safety step, is to ensure there are no electrical wires or duct work running through the bulkheads or directly on, next to, or inside the bulkheads. Only a professional electrician or contractor should remove bulkheads with electrical wiring, electrical outlets, or ductwork in or through the bulkheads.
However, if you have confirmed the bulkheads contain none of the above you can proceed removing the kitchen or bath bulkhead as planned.
First remove all breakable items or things easily dirtied or damaged in the room and directly under the bulkhead. Next you will need to empty the bulkhead completely. Finally you will need to cover the area under and around the bulkhead with drop cloths (old sheets work too) to keep dust, drywall, and debris from getting all over everything. Put on some protective eyewear and a
Open the doors of the bulkhead cabinets. Look around the back of the bulkhead inside for screws or nails. If the bulkhead is not connected to a wall, you’ll want to focus your attention on the top inside of the bulkhead. Those connected to both a wall and the ceiling may have screws and nails in both locations.
Take out the screws or nails. A safety note to consider: It is strongly recommended you have someone assist you. This person should be able to hold and support the bulkhead as you remove the screws or nails in case the bulkhead suddenly drops or comes loose.
Pull downwards on the bulkhead after removing the screws and nails. If the bulkhead does not budge make sure there are no brackets mounted on the back, sides, top, or bottom of the cabinets. If there are remove them as they are holding the bulkhead in place.
Try to pull downwards again. Don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it, you will bring down some wall plaster or ceiling drywall/plaster doing this. If the cabinets still don’t budge get a utility knife blade and slide it between the spots where the bulkhead meets the ceiling or wall. Slide it around back and forth to free the bulkhead as dried paint or plaster may be stuck to it holding it. If it still does not come loose, use a pry bar to pry the bulkhead off the wall or ceiling although this will surely do some damage to the wall.
Repeat these steps for any other bath and kitchen remodeling projects where you need to remove bulkheads. It is advised that you take down bulkhead cabinets before plastering or painting as the removal will damage the walls and paint jobs.