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Want to give your home a complete makeover? Have some open floor plans while restructuring the bedroom? Well, you are not alone! Almost 90% of American homeowners are looking to remodel their houses in 2019. Checking modern home structures and dreaming about the new bedroom design may seem exciting, there is a very important step that you cannot afford to miss. 

You need to identify the load-bearing walls correctly before any reconstruction to avoid large-scale damages to the house. So, how to tell if a wall is load bearing? Here’s our guide on the topic.

What is a load bearing wall?

Load bearing walls balance the entire weight of the house and help to keep the structure together. While most exterior walls are load bearing, identifying the inner load bearing ones can be tricky. Removing a load bearing wall without substitute support can bring the entire house down. 

How to identify load bearing walls?

Taking help from a professional is always a wise thing to do in this regard. However, there are some simple clues that can help you better understand the characteristics of the wall in question.

1. Start from the outside

Most exterior walls are load bearing. The walls with the windows can also be marked as load bearing.

load bearing wallPhoto by judemac on Pixabay [CC0]

2. Look for clues in the basement

The basement or the lowest level of your house is a great place to identify the load bearing walls. Any wall or structure that ends up into the foundation of the house is load bearing and shouldn’t be removed without proper precautions. 

3. Mark the beams

Beams are the thick pieces of concrete, wood or steel that often run through different floors. These beams will also be directly connected to the foundation. In case the beams are hidden, you will need to get in touch with the original builder.

4. Floor joists have a lot to tell

The walls that run parallel to floor joists are mostly not load bearing. However, the ones that run perpendicular to the joists are load bearing and should be handled carefully. 

5. The center carries the maximum load

The center of your house will have the maximum number of load bearing walls. You need to be extra cautious while dealing with even inner walls that are near the center of the building. There is a good chance that the wall is helping the house to support the weight.

6. Size matters

Internal walls that have large ends are most likely load bearing. The large end indicates that it is hiding a beam and should be handled carefully while trying to renovate the house.

how to know if a wall is load bearingPhoto by Cal David on Pexels [CC0]

7. Know the history of the house

If this is a house that you haven’t built, it is crucial that you get in touch with the original owners and the builder. If it has already been modified, it will be very difficult for you to understand the structure of the house just by looking at it. 

8. Look up

Most load bearing walls will support the floor or walls above it. As you scan the house from the basement to the attic, you will get a good idea of the blueprint. Be extra careful with the walls that have other walls above it. 

Things to remember while removing a load bearing wall

Once you have identified the load bearing walls, you can go ahead with your renovation plan. However, if you are planning to remove any of the load bearing walls, you need to remember the following pointers.

  • You need to get permission from the local municipality before you can remove load-bearing walls. 
  • You need to construct temporary support on both sides of the load-bearing wall before removing it. 
  • A horizontal beam will need to placed for structural support.
  • You may need to add multiple vertical pillars to give the beam more strength.
  • You will need to determine the correct size of the support beam. Factors like deflection, shear, roof load and dead against live weight need to be considered in this regard. 

Now that you know how to tell if a wall is load bearing, it is time for you to kick start your renovation plans. However, you may want to hire a professional for knocking down those walls. A licensed structural engineer will be able to help you identify the right walls and get the job done without causing any severe damage to the house. So, why wait? Get in touch with the experts today!

Read more: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Wall

How to Tell If a Wall Is Load Bearing was last modified: September 13th, 2019 by Kukun staff
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