How to Tell if a Wall is Load-Bearing?

removing wall

If you are considering a major renovation and want to tear down a wall or, two for an open concept kitchen or living space, determining whether a wall is load-bearing or not is crucial when considering any renovations or modifications to your home. All exterior walls of the house are load bearing. Load bearing walls tend to run perpendicular to floor joists, and if you see any beams or columns on that wall, your wall is load bearing.

If you don’t have access to your home’s original blueprints and you don’t want to call in an engineer, you will need to observe your home’s layout to figure out whether your walls are load-bearing or not.

exterior house wall

Location of Walls

Load-bearing walls are often located near the center of a house or along the exterior walls. They may also run perpendicular to floor joists. Non-load-bearing walls, most times, will be parallel to floor joists.

Thick Walls May Indicate Load Bearing

Load-bearing walls are generally thicker than non-load-bearing walls because they need to support the weight above them. Thicker walls often indicate a load-bearing function, but not always! If you have an older home, you don’t know if the walls were previously altered. Proceed with caution!

Unfinished new build interior construction basement renovation ground floor Inside

Beams and Columns Indicate Weight Transfer

Load-bearing walls often have support beams or columns that distribute the weight of the structure.

column in living room indicates load bearing

Examine the Attic and Basement/Crawlspace

Inspect the attic and the basement or crawlspace beneath the wall. If the wall’s framing continues through these areas and connects to the foundation or roof structure, it’s more likely to be load-bearing.

roof trusses

Observe Roof Trusses

If your home has roof trusses, they may help indicate load-bearing walls. Load-bearing walls often align with the trusses’ support points.

intersecting wall framing

Look for Wall Intersections

Where walls intersect, there’s a higher likelihood of load-bearing walls.

engineers can draw up plans of your house

If You Are Unsure, Conduct a Professional Inspection

If you’re still unsure after these initial assessments, hire a qualified structural engineer or contractor to inspect the wall in question. They can perform a thorough assessment and provide you with accurate information.

Remember, making assumptions about load-bearing walls can have serious consequences for your home’s structural integrity. If you’re planning any renovations that involve removing or modifying walls, it’s crucial to seek professional advice before proceeding if you are ever in doubt. Safety should always be the top priority.

Traditional styled luxury modern kitchen with fireplace and dining area in the background. kitchen has support post in center

Happy Remodeling!

Leave a Comment