Home Renovation 101: Load Bearing walls

Removing a wall or two in your home is a great way to create an open concept floor plan or to simply create more space. While the idea sounds easy enough, the reality of the project may not be. Some walls in a home are load-bearing, meaning they support the roof. Removing them can impact a home’s safety and stability. 

If you’re planning a remodeling project that involves knocking out one or more walls, it’s important that you make sure they aren’t load-bearing walls. If you aren’t sure how to tell, keep reading as we will discuss how to identify load-bearing walls, how to remove them if necessary, and what the alternatives are to removal. 

How to Identify Load Bearing Walls

Load-bearing walls aren’t always easily identifiable, especially if you aren’t an expert builder. However, you can figure out for yourself which walls are load-bearing and which ones aren’t by following the tips below.

Blueprints

Look at the original blueprints for your home. Load-bearing walls are usually marked with an “S” for structural, meaning they carry the weight of the structure.

The Ceiling

Look for load-bearing beams that run across the house. Walls beneath these beams are usually load-bearing. Having said that, just because you don’t see beams doesn’t mean a wall isn’t load-bearing.

The Basement

Look in the basement for steel joists or beams. Any walls running perpendicular to these beams are probably load-bearing. Any walls running parallel to these beams will likely be non-load bearing. 

The Foundation

Check the foundation of your home. Any walls directly connected to it are definitely load bearing. Even if additions have been made to your home, the original exterior walls that are now interior ones are still load-bearing. 

Pass-Through Openings – An Alternative to Load Bearing Wall Removal

Removing a load-bearing wall can be very dangerous and expensive. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t attempt to do it yourself. You can, however, opt for a pass-through opening as an alternative to load bearing wall removal. 

A pass-through opening allows the load-bearing wall to remain where it’s at, but it opens up the space to allow a more open concept floor plan. This option is much less expensive than removing a load-bearing wall completely. 

Load Bearing Wall Removal

It is possible to remove a load-bearing wall, but you should never attempt it yourself without consulting an experienced contractor first. Remember, removing a load-bearing wall can be dangerous, and if done poorly, can lead to structural instability of your home. 

If you’re planning a major home renovation to create an open concept floor plan, it’s important you identify the load-bearing walls in your home. By following the tips above and contacting an experienced contractor, you can safely remove the necessary walls to make your renovation dreams a reality.