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Load Bearing Walls: Everything you Need to Know about Them

Last modified: 2022-05-03 | Approximate reading time 3 mins

Every house has load-bearing walls that support the building's entire structure. Since working on them can be very dangerous for both your house and your personal safety, here are a few important things you should know about load bearing walls before you start renovating your house.

The role of load bearing walls in a home

Load bearing walls make up the most important part of a house's structure. They support the roof, the floor and the other walls. Therefore, only professionals can safely work to remove or to modify them. 

For instance, if you want to demolish a load bearing wall, they will have to add extra support beams to complete the project without affecting the building's integrity.

Afterwards, to avoid future problems, they will find a way to solidify the structure of the house. In some cases, this will be done by building another load bearing wall in another part of the house. 

When building a new room or a house extension, they will add at least one steel or wood beam to support the house's different components. Creating an opening in these types of walls is also possible, but it must be done with a lot of precaution.

Check out the article How to create an opening in a load bearing wall for more information.

Apartement mur porteur_apartment load bearing wall

What to do with a load bearing wall during large-scaled renovations

If the load bearing wall is inside the house, it is possible that workers will be forced to rebuild a new one, depending on what of renovation is planned. 

On the other hand, if a room is being expanded, it will be necessary to install one (or more, according to the size of the room) steel beam (of type IPN) or a wood beam. These beams will support the components of the house and ensure that the floor or roof above does not collapse.

Important: do not complete this work yourself. This requires the skills and knowledge of a qualified general contractor.

Indeed, this type of project is one of 7 renovation projects that should always be left to professionals

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How to identify a load bearing wall in your home

Although at times it can be hard to identify a load-bearing wall, there are a few signs that could help you recognize them. First, these types of walls are usually very thick when compared to other walls. Another trick is to knock on the wall. If the sound is hollow, chances are it's not a load bearing wall. It's also good to know that in general, floor joists near load-bearing walls tend to be perpendicular.  

Last but not least, all the outside walls of a house are usually bearing walls. If a wall contains all the characteristics that were mentioned in this paragraph, it is probably a load bearing wall. However, you should always get a second opinion from a professional.

  • Here are a few other characteristics that help determine whether or not a wall is load bearing:
  • How thick the wall is: load bearing walls are generally thicker than normal walls (minimum 15 mm);
  • Going up to the attic, study the direction of the beams and joists. Load bearing walls tend to cross beams in a perpendicular manner;
  • The wall contains large columns;
  • Walls that are located in the middle of the house are more likely to be load bearing walls;
  • For walls that are located on the ground floor, head to the basement to observe the direction of the ceiling beams.

How to remove a load bearing wall

If you decide to take the risk to remove a load bearing wall by yourself, your house could fall down after only a few knocks using a hammer or another strong tool. Since vibrations are so detrimental to load bearing walls, you should never underestimate renovations involving these types of structural elements.

That's why if you're planning to remove a load bearing wall,  it's so important to hire a structural engineer or an architect to properly plan out the wall removal proceedings. Once you have the plans in hand, a general contractor will usually be able to complete the job.

The cost to destroy and remove a load bearing wall

Since this is a project that may lead to certain complications, the destruction of a load-bearing wall must be completed by certified contractors. Expect to spend at least $ 2,000 for good quality work (Source: AmeriSpec).

Here are a few relevant articles about interior walls that could be useful to you:

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