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How to Create An Opening in a Load Bearing Wall

How to Create An Opening in a Load Bearing Wall

Interior renovationsHow to Create An Opening in a Load Bearing Wall

Of course, the steps described above are very basic and do not describe the process in detail. Some techniques are also very different from what is described. In the end, you must absolutely call in a specialist. 

Load-bearing walls are essential parts of the structure in a house and should not be removed or modified without taking proper precautions. has a few pieces of essential advice before you undertake this type of renovation project.

How to recognize a load-bearing wall:

Before you start doing any structural alterations, you must already be sure that your wall is indeed a load-bearing wall. Working on a load-bearing wall vs a simple partition does not imply the same risks and needs. There are several elements that can help you identify a load-bearing wall: 

  • Wall thickness: A load-bearing wall will be at least 15cm thick. If the size of your wall is less thick, there is a good chance it will be a simple partition;

  • Wall sound: Take the time to study the sound of your wall. Tap on it with your hand and if you hear a thud and a deep sound, know that there is a good chance that this is a load-bearing wall;

  • In the attic: if you go up to the attic, you can observe the position of the beams and joists. In general, the load-bearing walls cross the roof beams perpendicularly. This technique will give you a better idea of the location of the load-bearing walls;

  • In the basement: If the wall is on the ground floor, you can go down to the basement to observe the position of the ceiling beams. If you notice that a wall is directly above a beam, the wall may not be strong.

Are you looking for more hints that the wall is load-bearing? Check out: How to identify a load-bearing wall

However, know that there is no exact science to know if a wall is load-bearing or not, without having access to the plans of the house. When in doubt, call an engineer or a professional contractor who will be able to give you a clear answer.

Poutre d'appui mur porteur_load bearing wall beam

Photo: Wikimedia commons Simon Mer

Creating an opening in a load-bearing wall: the main steps

The load-bearing wall supports weight and if it is no longer able to fulfil this function, you will have to find another way for this weight to be supported. Very often, this involves installing columns or a support beam.

Here are the 9 main steps to create an opening in a load bearing wall:

  1. First, be aware that this type of task must be completed by at least two people, especially if you install a support beam. Once you have determined where the wall is, you can move on to the next step;

  2. Determine where the opening will be located and make the necessary calculations;

  3. Build a temporary wall to support the weight;

  4. Remove the section of the wall that you want to get rid of;

  5. Remove the studs;

  6. Install the columns or the support beam;

  7. Reinstall the studs on the sides of the opening;

  8. Destroy the temporary wall;

  9. Complete the finishing touches around the opening in the load-bearing wall.

Of course, the steps described above are very basic and do not describe the process in detail. Some techniques are also very different from what is presented. In the end, you must absolutely call in a specialist.

Hire a professional contractor

Contrary to what many people believe, load-bearing walls can be modified and even removed. If you're looking to alter the setup of your house, it can be a great option. However, since load-bearing walls help carry the weight of the house, creating an opening or removing such walls should only be done by professionals or by people who truly know what they are doing.  They know the proper work techniques and will find the best solutions according to the house's layout.

To this end, destroying walls is one of the 7 renovation projects that should always be left to professionals (click on the title to access the article). 

How much does it cost to create an opening in a load-bearing wall?

First of all, know that if you are a co-owner and not a full owner of the building where you will be completing the renovation project, you will need prior authorization. Also, make sure to contact your municipality to learn about any permits and moralities concerning this type of renovation. If you wish to make an opening in a load-bearing wall (e.g. for a door), it will cost you between $800 and $1800, without including costs for finishes (paint). Complete removal of a load-bearing wall will run you approximately $2000.

Here are a few more articles about load-bearing walls and non-load bearing walls published on our home renovation blog: 

Get 3 renovation quotes for your load-bearing wall can help you get quotes for a load-bearing wall renovation project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with the most suitable contractors for you. Fill in the form on our homepage (only a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from trusted renovation professionals. 

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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