Everything You Need to Know About Your Load Bearing Walls

UtahlbwLoad Bearing Wall

how to tell if a wall is load bearing

In the last couple of years, homeowners have spent more time and money on renovation projects than ever before. Due to the pandemic, social life was virtually non-existent, offering homeowners the time to spend on renovations. According to Statista, having time was the number one reason behind home improvement projects during the coronavirus outbreak in the United States in 2020

Many homeowners also went for major upgrades like removing a load-bearing wall. This was in part due to increasing property prices. The average sales price of a new home in 2020 was $391,900, and in 2021, it reached $453,700. It’s no wonder homeowners choose to renovate instead of move. 

But load-bearing wall removal is often a daunting task. You will need to know as much about the load-bearing wall as possible.

Let’s get started.

What Is Load Bearing Wall?

A load-bearing wall is a wall that supports the weight of the roof and/or the floor above. It also supports imposed loads such as beams, slabs, and the walls on the floors above. It is capable of carrying its weight too.

Usually, it is constructed perpendicular to the floor ridge or the joists. This wall rests on the foundation below, which ultimately bears the weight of your entire house. Typically, a house will have more than one load-bearing wall.

As you can imagine, a load-bearing wall needs to be sturdy and strong. It is also thick and wide. The thickness and width will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Type of the building
  • The number of floors that require support
  • The number of imposed loads
  • The type of material used to construct the wall

Types of Load Bearing Wall

Load-bearing wall has been used since ancient times. It is considered one of the earliest pioneering marvels of civil engineering. As the civil construction industry evolved, different types of load-bearing walls were introduced.

They can be listed as follows:

1. Common 2×4 wall

With a stud every 16 inches on center, these are most common in Utah. They are often hollow if an interior wall, but most likely will have electrical and plumbing running through them.

2. Precast Concrete Wall

This is perhaps the aesthetically most pleasing load-bearing wall. It is made by casting concrete in reusable wall mold or form. It then gets cured in a controlled environment. Once ready, it gets transported to the construction site. This increases the construction speed considerably.

precast concrete wall is:

  • Easy to install
  • Extremely durable
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Considerably resistant to thermal changes
  • Moisture resistant, which reduces the risk of mold infestation
  • highly fire-resistant 
  • requires no maintenance
  • best suited for acoustics (offers good insulation to sound)

3. Retaining Wall

This load-bearing wall is designed to hold back the soil. Its primary purpose is to resist the lateral pressure exerted by the overburdened soil. It is also called revetment or breast wall.

This load-bearing wall primarily serves as an erosion control structure. It prevents the soil from washing away during heavy rainfall. Sometimes, this wall is also gets used in landscaping.

Depending on the construction purpose and materials used, there are six main types of retaining walls.

  • Gravity retaining wall
  • Cantilever retaining wall
  • Counter-fort retaining wall
  • Anchored retaining wall
  • Piled retaining wall
  • Mechanically stabilized earth retaining wall

4. Masonry Wall

This is one of the oldest and most widespread load-bearing wall construction techniques. It is also the most effortless and durable construction choice. It involves placing masonry units in layers held together by mortar. However, you will see this wall in mostly small-sized houses and buildings.

Usually, you will see masonry walls made using stones, bricks, or concrete blocks. But you can also see these walls made using composite material. Reinforced and cavity masonry construction is equally prevalent. To see which supporting masonry wall you have, consult a load-bearing wall removal contractor.

5. Pre Panelized Load Bearing Metal Stud Walls

This load-bearing wall is often used for building exterior wall cladding. The wall panels are pre-fabricated off-site using materials like stainless steel, copper, or aluminum. These walls support gravity, wind, and seismic loading.

6. Engineered Brick Wall

It is made with engineering bricks. These bricks offer better technical and structural performance. As a result, this wall has better strength and durability. It can also help improve the aesthetic appeal of the supporting wall.

7. Stone Wall

A stone wall is a type of masonry construction. However, it is often used to enclose a particular area. In other words, removing a load-bearing wall like this can free up more space. However, you do need load-bearing wall removal experts to remove these walls.

Can You Remove Load Bearing Wall?

Absolutely! But you have to take a few precautions when removing a load-bearing wall. Before removing the wall, you must provide it with temporary support to avoid structural damage. If you remove a load-bearing wall without knowing what it was, it can lead to the following structural issues.

1. Sagging Ceiling

The ceiling will sag if you remove a load-bearing wall without proper precaution. That said, ceilings tend to sag naturally over time, usually around a quarter or half an inch. However, if it drops half an inch right after removing a load-bearing wall, that’s a sign of concern. To avoid this, consult with load-bearing wall removal experts before hammering down your wall.

2. Sagging Floor

Remove the load-bearing wall without proper support, and you will have this problem on your hands. Especially two and three-story buildings are prone to this structural damage. If you don’t want to see your floor sag, call a load-bearing wall removal contractor for the job.

3. Sticky Doors and Windows

Without proper support, the floor and ceiling will start to sag. As a result, it puts pressure on the door and window framing. This causes the doors and windows to rub and stick. However, there could be other reasons behind sticky doors and windows. Still, it’s better to hire a professional when removing a load-bearing wall.

4. Cracked Drywalls or Plaster

One of the less obvious structural damages includes cracks in drywall and plaster. This also happens because the ceiling and floor start to sag. Drywalls are often too delicate to handle excessive pressure.

Always Work with Load Bearing Wall Removal Experts

As you can see, this is not a DIY. Even if you know how to replace a load-bearing wall with a beam, you may encounter unexpected problems. Plus, you will need to invest in special tools and safety gear. You will need a helping hand as well. It’s going to be a two-person job at the least. Why go through all this trouble when you can hire load bearing wall removal experts, often at a fraction of the cost and with no hassle.

Here’re a few reasons this is the right move.

1. Identify The Right Wall

This is the main reason you should hire a load-bearing wall removal contractor. Identifying a load-bearing wall is not an easy task. They don’t look any different than the ordinary walls.

Plus, in most houses, the support wall gets camouflaged behind drywall. That makes it challenging to identify the right wall. Getting the wrong wall removed is costly and time-consuming. So, let the professional decide which wall needs to be removed and proceed accordingly.

2. Get The Right Insights

Before you hammer down the load-bearing wall, you must plan everything to the tee. That’s where hiring an expert can help. They know where, when, and how to proceed. Having done dozens of load-bearing wall removals, they can handle the planning part better than a novice like you.

Moreover, they will provide you with a detailed analysis. This helps you weigh the pros and cons of removing a load-bearing wall. Being a significant structural improvement, you must understand if it truly serves the desired purpose.  

3. Efficient Demolition

A temporary support system is at the heart of load-bearing wall removal. This support will make sure the structural integrity of your house remains intact throughout the process. A professional would always know how much temporary support is needed. In other words, you don’t have to worry about cracked drywalls, sagging floors, and sticky doors or windows.

4. Safe Wall Removal

Safety is the topmost concern for a load-bearing wall removal contractor. They will take all the required safety precautions, protecting you and your loved ones, not to mention your house. There is no risk of injuries or property damage. Moreover, all the work remains compliant with the local building regulations.

5. Get The Right Tools

They also have the right tools. That’s why a professional can finish the job as quickly and efficiently as possible. They can tear down the walls quickly – say only a few hours. They can also cut the beam, get it in place, and complete the finishing touches in just a few days, if not weeks.

6. Save Money and Time  

Hiring an expert often results in a faster turnaround. The faster the job gets finished, the less money it will cost. Besides, it will be a job well done, which also helps save you money and time. On the other hand, a job half-done will most likely cost you double the money in the long run.

Load Bearing Wall Removal Facts You Can’t Ignore

Apart from hiring a professional, there are a few load-bearing wall removal facts you can’t ignore. Here’s what you will always need to remember.

1. Restoration Is Must

When you remove the load-bearing wall, you have to replace it one way or the other. Usually, it’s a supporting beam made from steel or wood like LVL or glulam.

2. The Supporting Beam Will Be Below the Ceiling, Or Can Be Recessed

The third fact is – the supporting beam can remain below the ceiling, or be recessed. The floor structure must rest on the beam. So, the beam will not be as high as your ceiling – unless you’d like the beam recessed into the ceiling. Load Bearing Pros can do it both ways. Keep this in mind while making the structural changes.

You will need to consider finishing touches accordingly. Drywall is usually the best option to conceal the beam. However, you can consult your contractor for better options, if any. The point is to make your open floor plan as stunning as possible.

3. Your House Won’t Fall Right Away

More often than not, houses are built with redundancy in mind. You house won’t collapse as soon as you remove the load-bearing wall. But, over time, gravity will work its magic, resulting in sagging roofs and floors.

Does this mean you can work without temporary support? NO! You must always use a temporary support system. Consult load-bearing wall removal experts to know how much support is needed.

In Conclusion

As the name suggests, a load-bearing wall supports the weight of the roof and/or the floor above. It also supports imposing loads, transferring their weight to the foundation. Still, you can remove it to create an open floor plan for your kitchen or living room. But you will need to take several precautions and know as much about load-bearing walls as possible. Hopefully, this quick guide will prove helpful in this regard.

Load Bearing Pros is a licensed load-bearing wall removal contractor that offers safe, cost-effective, and professional services. Whatever load-bearing wall removal services you need, we are here to help. Give us a call to talk to our experts today!