People prefer open floor plans nowadays; however, it’s not that easy to attain that look if a house is already old. Of course, some walls are used to keep the house standing. So, it is necessary for you to know how load-bearing walls work.
Most of the people around me always ask if they can tear up a particular wall in their homes. Believe me, it’s not easy to explain to them. Houses that have gone through many renovations are hard to analyze.
In this case, it is always recommended to consult a professional before you decide to overhaul. Here are a few things on how to tell if a wall is load-bearing.
1. Understanding the Structure
Your house’s structural wall is the one responsible for carrying the entire weight of your house. Factors include your roof and the floors. The weight I’m talking about is the load. This is where we get the term ‘load-bearing walls’.
This load is transferred as you increase the level of your house. On each floor of the house, the load-bearing walls are directly above one another. I guess you know that your exterior walls are always considered as load-bearing walls.
Due to the changes applied by people in their homes, some exterior walls nearly look like the interior walls, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still load-bearing walls.
2. Start by Studying the Foundation
If your house has an unfinished basement, the first thing that you should find are the beams. Either the metal beams or wood beams are clear indicators where the weight of the house is resting.
If there is a wall placed directly above those beams, then you have found a load-bearing wall. Aside from this, all the walls that are above it are also considered as load-bearing.
3. Check the Floor Joists
This process is a convenient way to identify a load-bearing wall. You can start by looking up from your basement. If you see the floor joist is perpendicular to a wall, then that wall is load-bearing. You can also start from the attic, looking down.
However, you should note that not all load-bearing walls are perpendicular to the floor joists. A load-bearing wall can be located to place without the intersection of joists; this is the reason why it is helpful to study the entire structure of the house.
4. Simply Look Above You
It is easy to identify a load-bearing wall, simply by checking if there any other walls or supports directly placed above it. If there is none, then probably, the wall is load-bearing. Take for an example an unfinished attic.
If you see the knee walls that support the roof rafters, they are usually located directly above a load-bearing wall. This factor is a clue that is easy to identify.
5. Check the Blueprints
If the blueprint of your house is in your hands, then it will be easier for you to distinguish if an entire wall is load-bearing or not. Check the structure section. It is usually labeled ‘’S”. The clever thing to do is to check the framing plan.
This technique will show you the interior plan of your house. Now, find the beams as well as the floor joists. If you are planning to remove a wall and it’s not connected to a certain beam, then probably it isn’t a load-bearing wall.
The same goes for floor joists. If it is not connected or perpendicular to a floor joist, then it’s an indicator that it’s not a load-bearing wall.
6. Check the Center of Your House
Start by examining the 1st and 2nd floor of your home. This time, try to find a wall that is sitting comparatively in the center of your home. Check if it is also parallel directly above the center basement’s beam. If so, then you have located a load-bearing wall.
7. Professional Consultation
If you have questions, hesitations, or doubts about your home’s load-bearing walls, then it is the right time to consult a professional. They have the right knowledge to modify your home’s structure. Remember that moving a load-bearing wall needs proper bracing.
Now, I hope the question of how to tell if a wall is load-bearing is already answered by these tips and guidelines. It’ll be even better if you practice right in your home.
Apply the steps by checking beams, posts, and your house’s floor joists. From there, you can start identifying which walls are load-bearing and which ones aren’t.
These pointers are important especially if you have plans to renovate or remodel your home. When in doubt, remember that the safest option is to consult a professional. It may cost you some bucks, but it’s all worth it because you don’t want to risk your home to damage.