How do you know if you are dealing with a load bearing wall?


We want to remove a wall between out kitchen and living room and make a wide doorway on a another (same room) wall going into a different room. Im worried about a load bearing wall.

  4 answers
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jul 13, 2018
    You will have to either go up in the attic or under the house to find out.

    "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."

    Meaning they are running in the opposite direction as the joists.

    If it is load bearing, you will have to put up a beam. Do not do this until you have gone on line and watched several videos on how to shore up the ceiling before you remove the wall.

    Beams can cost thousands of dollars and you will have to have some help putting it up...several strong men.

    You can look to "opening up" a wide space and put in a "header" instead of a beam...much, much less expensive...but you will still want to shore up the ceiling until you get a header in.

    A wide opening can be made even more open in several ways...leave some support posts and dress them out. Or put in a pony wall and put in a framed area (support posts) and fill the area with windows...or put up glass doors.

  • Melodi Whitaker Melodi Whitaker on Jul 13, 2018
    We did the same thing and the way we found out was by opening a 1’x1’ hole at the top of the wall to see which way the joists ran. If the wall runs the same direction as the joists, it us not load bearing. If it runs across the joists, it probably is load bearing. If it is, you can insert a header above the doorway to carry the load, but you will need a permit. We had a small pocket door and wanted to make it a 48” pocket door, with 2 doors in the walls, but trying to get the permit proved to be a huge ordeal in our I decided to hang a set of french doors on a barn door rail instead. By hanging the doors outside the walls, we only needed the existing opening.

  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Jul 13, 2018
    Hello Kat, It depends which way your beam, joint and trusses are going. My husband is a carpenter, I could ask him and let you know

  • Mindshift Mindshift on Jul 14, 2018

    Its best to consider all exterior walls load-bearing. If your house has gable ends, then I suppose you could consider those ends as less load-bearing but they are not load-free. If your house has a hip roof then all exterior walls are load-bearing because parts of the roof load bear on every exterior wall.

    An addition does not change a load-bearing wall. The same stresses are still there after the addition, and the addition itself could have added new stresses. Many extra large open-plan homes may have interior walls that are load-bearing.