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How to Tell if a Wall Is Load Bearing



Have you ever looked at your home and thought how much better it would look without that wall? Of course, your next thought was probably, “Is this a load-bearing wall?”

Accidentally knocking down the wrong wall can have major consequences, such as the ceiling caving in. This is one task that you don’t want to DIY!

Find out if the wall you want to remove or alter is a load-bearing wall and what you need to do next.

What Is a Load-Bearing Wall?

Homeowners that love the idea of an open-concept home often imagine the look of their home without a particular wall in the way. However, a load-bearing wall plays a vital role in your home’s structure. When a wall is load-bearing, it distributes and supports the weight of a floor or roof above.

Non-load-bearing walls are also called partition walls. It’s vital that you can spot the difference between a load-bearing wall and a partition wall.

Checking for Load-Bearing Walls

There are a few steps you can take as a homeowner to determine if it’s a bearing wall or not. You’ll need to head to the attic or basement to look at the joists. Then ask yourself the following questions about the wall:

  • Is it perpendicular to the joists?
  • Is it parallel to the joists?
  • Does it stop short of an adjacent wall?
  • Is there a support structure below it?

Walls that run parallel to the joists are generally not load-bearing walls. However, if the wall runs perpendicular to the joists, it’s likely a load-bearing wall.

Keep in mind there are some cases in which a bearing wall will run parallel to the joists. Before you start knocking down walls, you should consult with a professional to get their opinion.

If you have a basement or crawlspace beneath the wall, check to see if there is a supporting structure below it. Supporting structures can be posts, beams, columns, piers, or another wall. This can indicate a load-bearing wall.

Partial Walls

A partial wall stops short of an adjacent wall. You can’t assume that all partial walls are safe to knock down, as some may be load-bearing. Builders can sometimes install a special bearing beam, called microllam beams, to carry loads.

Load-Bearing Wall Removal

So you’ve identified a load-bearing wall, but you want to open up your house. First, don’t try to do this on your own. Removing a wall comes with much more risk than TV shows can let on.

The best solution is to consult with a professional and hire load bearing wall removal services. Construction experts can determine whether removing a wall will come with any risks and what can be done to support your home’s structure.

Renovating Safely

Before you start expanding rooms and knocking down walls, make sure you’re not dealing with a load-bearing wall. Follow these tips to determine if it’s load-bearing or not. To avoid costly mistakes, it’s always best to consult with a professional and get their opinion.

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