How to Safely Remove Load-Bearing Walls

  • 28 May, 2021
  • Commercial

How to Safely Remove Load-Bearing Walls

It’s important to understand how your home is constructed when planning a home improvement project or any kind of renovations on existing rooms. If part of your plan includes removing walls or modifying windows and doors, knowing which walls are load-bearing could mean the difference between a beautiful remodel or a collapse. Here’s what you need to know before any demolition takes place:

What is a load-bearing wall?

In simple terms, a load-bearing wall is one that supports the weight of the structure above it. The load-bearing wall then takes the load from things like floors, furniture, and people, and transfers it down to the foundation. This creates a stable environment in your home. 

While most multistory buildings stack load-bearing walls from floor to floor, that’s not always the case in homes with an open floor plan. In cases like this where there is a load-bearing wall on an upper floor and an open space on the floor below, transfer beams or floor joists are installed to transfer the load to the adjacent walls. 

How to tell which wall is load-bearing

If you’re able to see your house’s framework, take a look at the floor joists. If you notice that the wall is parallel to the joists, it’s probably not a load-bearing wall. However, if you see that the wall is perpendicular to the joist, it is load-bearing.

If you can’t see the framework, try to map out the interior walls. If you see that some walls stack from floor to floor, there’s a good chance they are load-bearing. 

How to remove a load-bearing wall

If you want to remove a load-bearing wall, you will need to install a transfer beam to keep the area stable. You can either have the transfer beam dropped below the floor joists or have it flush and in line with them. A flush beam is the more expensive option as it requires more construction. 

The structure, walls, and foundation will all need to be evaluated by a professional, however. They would assess the loads and determine whether the area and foundation could handle the increased stress or if anything needs to be reinforced. If you remove a load-bearing wall without shoring the surrounding area, it could threaten a collapse.

Most residential areas require permits for this kind of work, so it’s important to speak with a professional before undertaking the project. With decades of experience, our team at JT Engineering can help you with these kinds of renovations and much more. Contact us and find out more about the services we offer.