When it comes to living spaces, most homeowners would prefer to live in a house with a sprawling, open-floor plan rather than one that’s divided into smaller rooms.
Changing the layout of a compact living area, however, requires meticulous planning – as well as an understanding of load bearing walls and crucial support beams. If you want to maintain the structure of your home, you can’t rush into a load-bearing wall removal project.
In this post, we’re sharing a few pointers about the importance of load bearing walls and load bearing wall removal. Let’s start by understanding what load bearing walls are.
1) What Are Load Bearing Walls?
Generally speaking, all homes have two types of walls:
- Load bearing walls: These are structural walls that support the weight of the roof, the upper floors, and even the ceiling above them. The cost to remove a load bearing wall is generally higher than that of tearing down less important walls.
- Non-load bearing walls: These walls do not support any structural weight of the house.
With the help of load bearing walls, the weight of the roof and everything under it is shifted down to the footings. The path or the route that the load uses to transfer down to the home’s foundation (in a balanced, sustainable manner) is referred to as the “load path.”
The walls in the exterior of a home are usually load bearing. Depending on the construction of the house, the interior walls may or may not be load bearing.
Homes that have a hallway down the center may have two walls, both of which might be load bearing. Furthermore, one-story establishments built with trusses might not have any interior load bearing walls. The load is transferred to the exterior walls via the trusses.
A load bearing wall typically has the following characteristics:
- It’s perpendicular to the floor, ceiling, or the roof joists.
- It stands directly underneath another wall or is only a little offset.
- It’s situated atop a support beam or concrete foundation.
- It’s usually centrally located in the house.
Not all load bearing walls, however, have the above-listed features. For safe removal, it is best to have load bearing wall removal specialists inspect your home. They will survey its original structural drawings to correctly identify load bearing walls.
2) Why Are Load Bearing Walls Important?
As mentioned, a load bearing wall offers the much-needed support that helps in the even distribution of weight across the structure of your house.
Load bearing walls do the work of providing optimal load path balance to fortify your home’s structure. This, in turn, ensures that your house remains strong for years to come. Simply put, load bearing walls keep your home standing safely.
Load bearing wall removal specialists figure out the accurate load pathways that keep the structure balanced and stable. This prevents the deterioration of your home’s interior and exterior walls by holding the roof firm in place.
These structural, weight-supporting walls in your home are critical to maintaining the integrity of your property. If you’re wondering how to remove a load bearing wall, know that it should not be dismantled without first installing a replacement support beam in its place.
3) How Can I Tell If a Wall Is Structural?
All external walls of your house are structural, and therefore, load bearing.
If you live in a two-story home, your interior walls will be placed on top of each other, making each one crucial to the strength of your house’s structure. Typically, stacked-up load bearing walls can be identified by taking a closer look at the floor plan of the home.
A great way to check if the first-floor wall is load bearing is to access your unfinished basement or crawl space, then look for continuous footing underneath the particular wall. A load bearing wall will have perpendicular joists above it. If it doesn’t have joists, it will have struts situated at an angle to support the roof and ceiling.
This may get a bit too technical for most people, and they may end up identifying the wrong wall as load bearing. Fortunately, you can count on load bearing wall removal specialists to know how to remove a load bearing wall in a foolproof and safe manner.
4) Is It Possible to Remove a Load Bearing Wall?
The simple answer is, yes. However, it is best not to attempt a DIY job when taking down a load bearing wall. You don’t want to tear down the wrong wall and weaken the structural integrity of your home.
Taking down a load bearing wall without implementing the necessary precautions can lead to several costly mistakes. For efficient, cost-effective, and timely results, you should hire licensed professionals. You can then rest easy knowing that your home is in good hands.
Taking down a load bearing wall needs more planning than tearing down an ordinary partition wall. Apart from the structural considerations, you need to weigh in other essential elements, such as electrical wires and plumbing pipes, that may be running through the wall. These can add to the complications.
Additionally, if you’re removing a load bearing wall on an upper floor, the structure of the lower floor will also need to undergo certain necessary modifications. This is crucial to continue an effective load path to the foundation.
While getting the job done by professionals will cost you more money compared to a DIY job, it will prove to be money well spent. With experienced professionals in your corner, you will feel assured that the work has been done competently, and you and your home are safe. Project timelines will also be duly met.
Furthermore, load bearing wall removal specialists will assist you with the required permits, which brings us to our next point.
5) What Permits Are Required for Removing a Load Bearing Wall?
In most cities, you need to get a building permit for taking down a load bearing wall. If the wall contains any electrical wires or plumbing pipes, you will need additional permits for those.
If you’re not sure about the permits your city requires, consult experienced load bearing wall removal professionals in the area. They will know exactly what the requirements are and how to fulfil them.
6) What Does Taking Down a Load Bearing Wall Involve?
Before taking down a load bearing wall, you need to ensure it is supported with temporary provisions. These can include support walls or beams or anything that will prevent your home from collapsing once the wall is removed.
Even after the wall is removed, you need to provide continued support to your house. This can be done with a single or multiple beams or a combination of posts and beams.
Ideally, posts can be used as they take up less space in a room compared to walls. They are also more visually-appealing. They can be created to sustain the same weight as the load bearing wall you plan to remove (when used with a beam).
Beams are effective in maintaining the structural integrity of your house and useful in transferring the load from the roof, floor, and ceiling to the posts. The material of the beams can vary from project to project, based on the specific requirements.
Keep in mind that older houses, particularly those built before 1990, may have asbestos in their walls. When you take the walls down, you may be exposed to the material, which can be dangerous to your health.
If your home’s walls might contain asbestos, you should definitely work with a professional. They will know how to remove a load bearing wall safely, while indicating asbestos removal in your building permit application.
Modern homeowners are increasingly embracing open-floor designs and concepts when renovating their home. This usually involves tearing down a wall or two.
There are, however, several factors that need to be considered in the decision to remove any wall -, particularly load bearing walls. Proper planning is key to determining how to remove a load bearing wall while redistributing the weight.
Load bearing walls are integral to the structural integrity of any establishment. If the weight of your home is unsupported or insufficiently supported, it can result in the complete collapse of your property.
This kind of complex job is best left to seasoned load bearing wall removal specialists. They can accurately study your floor plans, calculate the weight load affected, and take the steps necessary to keep your home standing strong.
Hopefully, the above-mentioned points will guide you in the right direction.