How can you tell if a wall is load bearing?

I want to remove a wall but I need to know if the wall is load bearing but I don't know how to tell.
  9 answers
  • Dina Swaney Dina Swaney on Nov 13, 2016
    In order to determine if a wall is load bearing you first need to look at the direction that your roof spans. Any wall that is under the peak of your roof or close to it could be load bearing. The load bearing capacity will be passed from floor to floor. All outside wall are also load bearing. Good luck!!
  • William William on Nov 13, 2016
    Understand the Structure ***** A structural wall actually carries the weight of your house, from the roof and upper floors, all the way to the foundation. (The weight that is being transferred down at any given point in the house is called the "load", hence "load-bearing walls.") Because this weight is transferred from one level of the house to the next, load-bearing walls are typically directly over one another on each floor. Exterior walls are always load-bearing, and if there is a previous addition involved, some exterior walls may now look like interior walls, but they are almost certainly still load-bearing. ***** Start at the Foundation ***** In a house that has an unfinished basement or easily accessible wall, finding the beams— typically a metal I-beam or a multi-board wood beam—is a good indication of where the weight of the house is resting. A wall directly above those beams (and any walls directly above those walls) are probably load-bearing. ***** Look at the Floor Joists ***** If you can see the floor joists, either from the basement looking up to the first floor, or from the attic looking down to the floor below, note their direction. A load-bearing wall will often be perpendicular to floor joists. If you see a wall that appears to be holding up an intersection of joists at any point, that wall is likely load-bearing as well. (Not all walls that are perpendicular to floor joists are load-bearing, and a load-bearing wall may occur at a place where there is not an intersection of joists as well, this is why it's important to look at the overall structure of the house.) ***** Look Above ***** If a wall doesn't have any walls, posts, or other supports directly above it, it's far less likely that it's load-bearing. This is also true when looking in the attic. If you have an unfinished attic, but see knee walls (walls under 3' in height that support the roof rafters) those are likely directly above a load-bearing wall as well. ***** *****
  • Susan E Susan E on Nov 14, 2016
    If it were me, I would ask an engineer. Making a mistake would be EXTREMELY expense to fix.
  • Regina Tackett Regina Tackett on Nov 15, 2016
    It's best to have a contractor come in and look over the house. It's worth the couple hundred dollars it would cost to get that structure looked over.
  • Jenny Embrey Jenny Embrey on Nov 18, 2016
    once you take the drywall off ,check the header boards- if is or has 2 2+4 or 2+6's at the Top of your wall well then you have a load bearing wall. You can put a beam all the ways across. jenny
  • RichandTammy Whiteside RichandTammy Whiteside on Dec 01, 2016

    This looks like one of the easiest ways to determine if a wall is load bearing. If you have attic access, you should be able take a look up there to make this determination.

  • UpState UpState on Jan 09, 2017

    Susan E of Pollock Pines, CA has it right.

    "...If it were me, I would ask an engineer. Making a mistake would be EXTREMELY expense to fix..."

    or ... knock it down and see if the house falls down (not)

  • Wal13132785 Wal13132785 on Jan 09, 2017

    Usually a load bearing wall is on the outside of the house, but I agree with a lot of the answers, I would either hire a reliable contractor or an engineer to really determine if you are not comfortable doing it your self. Just don't do anything until you do one of those two things or you may wake some morning with your house down all around you.