Load Bearing Walls – Do You Know How to Identify Them?

You may need to remove walls from your house during major remodels. It is a big and expensive project to undergo. However, the rewards are big as well. Removing walls allow you to expand your bedrooms and enlarge the kitchen. You can also turn your living room into a larger sitting space that you’ll love. 


If you have plans to remodel your home, you may remove or alter a wall. In this case, you must know if the wall is load-bearing or not. Even if you’re a structural engineer, understanding load-bearing walls will help you perform your job better. The same applies to builders and other contractors.


Looking for how to understand load-bearing walls? This is an extensive article that gives you all the answers. Read on.

Load Bearing Wall

A load-bearing wall (or bearing wall) is a type of wall that serves as the active structural element of a building. It holds the weight of the elements above it. Then it transfers its weight to a foundation structure.


Load-bearing walls are one of the oldest forms of building construction. For instance, there is a flying buttress in Gothic architecture. The structures maintain open space and transfer weight to the buttresses instead of central bearing walls. When it comes to housing, load-bearing walls are infamous in the method of light construction. Builders also refer to light construction as platform framing. 


In the early stages of the skyscraper era, William Le Baron Jenney designed a better framing system. It includes steel as a more suitable frame. These see the importance and use of load-bearing construction in large buildings.


Most materials that builders use for load-bearing walls in large buildings are concrete. They can also use brick or block. In contrast, a cotton wall does not provide any actual support. It only does what is necessary to bear down its materials. At times, it transfers such loads to the load-bearing wall. 

Application of Load Bearing Walls

Builders gauge load-bearing walls to the level of thickness that can carry the load above them. It depends on the number of floors in the building. Without this, an outer wall can become unstable. Instability will occur in situations where the load exceeds the strength of the material that the builders use. Potentially, the structure can collapse which means more cost. 


Another function of load-bearing walls is to divide and enclose space in a building. Structures such as offices find this very useful because the building becomes more functional. It also offers privacy, security, and protection from weather elements.

Housing Application

When it comes to housing, load-bearing walls are common in light construction methods. Builders also call this method platform framing, and each load-bearing wall rests on a wall sill plate. The builders mate the wall sill plate to the lowest base plate. Then they bolt the sills to the masonry or concrete foundation.


The top plate (or ceiling plate) is the top of the wall. It sits just below the platform of the next floor. The base plate or floor plate is the attachment point for wall studs. When builders use a top plate and bottom plate, they can construct a side-lying wall. It allows for end nailing of the studs between two plates. The builders can then tip up the complete wall vertically into place. The benefit is that it improves accuracy, and time, and produces a stronger wall.


With suburban home architecture, a wall becomes load bearing when;


  • Its load-bearing capacity reaches the maximum ability of a structural member.


  • It becomes the material to bear loading before the occurrence of failure

Commercial Buildings

The base and lower walls must be very strong in commercial buildings. It is because of the heavy weight of the structure. In commercial buildings with several floors, builders use pilings to anchor the building to the bedrock. For instance, when building a skyscraper, builders use a special treatment of mixed and reinforced concrete. 


They also use several cubic meters of concrete to construct the steel and concrete foundation. Structures like this feature piles that constructors bury deep down into the underground.

How to Tell If a Wall Is Load Bearing

Several clues can help you know if a wall is load-bearing. It is best to have a professional check it, but you can also do a preliminary check. You do not have to remove the drywall or perform other invasive measures to decide. However, you may need to check the attic to know the direction of the joists.

 Is the Wall Perpendicular or Parallel to Joists

Generally, you can decide on the load-bearing status of a wall by checking the direction. It is not a load-bearing wall if it runs parallel to the floor joists above. But it may be load-bearing if it runs at an angle of ninety degrees to the joists. 


However, there are some cases where a load-bearing wall is parallel to the joists. In cases like this, the builder may align the wall directly under a single joist. They may also bear on blocking between two close joists.

Partial Wall

A partial wall is a wall that stops short of an adjacent wall. It can be load bearing or not load bearing.


For instance, the builder may install a microlam beam to span across the opening and bear the load above. As a result, it is difficult for you to simply assume that a partial wall is only a partition wall.

Exterior Wall

An exterior wall is a wall that forms the perimeter, or outer footprint, of a house. Most exterior walls are load-bearing. If it includes windows and doors, the walls will have beams. It may also have headers that span across the top of the openings. Posts on one or both sides of the openings support the beams. 


It is rare for a house to have an entire stretch of an exterior wall that is not load-bearing. Builders can construct a house this way but it will incur huge financial costs. It is because they will use I-beams or large laminated structural beams.


Sometimes, a home can appear to not have any supporting exterior walls. They, however, do have support in the form of steel. A builder can also incorporate wooden columns between the windows. Window glass and exterior view usually take visual precedence. As a result, it is easy to miss the huge columns in place.

Masonry Wall

A masonry wall can look like a load-bearing wall. It is because masonry is substantial, solid, and strong for construction. However, this is not always the case. Even though the masonry wall looks strong, it can be or not be load-bearing.


The position of the masonry can help you decide its load-bearing capacity. For instance, check if it’s exterior. A certain type of masonry (manufactured stone veneer) cannot bear loads. It is because it is decorative, lightweight, and can crumble under stress.


Foundation walls, which builders typically construct with structural masonry materials, are load-bearing in nature. Their main role is to support the weight of the house.

Check If There Is a Support Structure

A wall may have a supporting member if it is on the first floor and has a basement below. You can check the lower level to see if it has piers or beams. Also check for columns, jack posts, or other supporting entities. Look directly under and follow the same path as the wall above.


If the wall does not have any support structure below, it may not be load-bearing. It is dangerous if the wall is load-bearing and does not have a support structure. That part of the house or structure is in danger of collapse.

Procedure for Identifying Bearing Walls

When a builder constructs a house, they create load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls. The difference is that some carry the structural weight while others serve as partitions. 


Before you modify any walls in your house, you need to know these. Check if the walls are load-bearing or not. You can affect the structure of your home if you tamper with a load-bearing wall. Your house can even collapse. 


These are procedures for identifying bearing walls in your home:


Begin with the Lowest Point In Your House

It is best to start at the most basic area of any house which is the foundation. It will help you better determine the load-bearing walls. If your house has a basement, you might want to begin at that point. If not, try to begin on the first floor where you can locate the house’s lower slab.


Once you can locate the lowest point in your house, you’re good to go.


Look for the walls with beams that go directly into the concrete foundation. The load-bearing walls of your house conduct their strain on any sturdy concrete foundation. So, look for any walls that form an interface with the foundation. There’s a high chance those are load-bearing walls. 


Additionally, most exterior walls are load-bearing and extend right into the concrete.

Look for the Beams

Start to look out for the thick, sturdy pieces of metal or wood. These are responsible for the majority of the load-bearing in your house. They also conduct straight into the foundation. Beams often stretch through multiple floors. So they can be part of multiple walls. 


If the beam of your house spans from the foundation to any wall above it, the wall is a load-bearing wall. 


Builders will place most beams behind dry walls except on unfinished walls. You need to consult construction builders if you’re unable to find them. It is easier to find beams in an unfinished attic or basement. There, some parts of the structure are open.

Check for Floor Joists

Check the point where a beam meets the ceiling. In the basement, this will likely be the underside of the first floor of your house. It will be on the second floor if you’re on the first floor. 


You should find long supports that span the length of the ceiling. They are floor joists because they support the floor of the room above. If any of these joists meet a wall or beam at ninety degrees, they transfer the weight of the floor to the wall. It means that the wall is load-bearing. 


The support of most walls is behind drywall. As a result, it’s difficult to see them. You might need to remove some floorboards to determine if some floor joists run at ninety degrees to a given wall. Removing the floorboards will give you a good view of the supports.

Follow the Internal Walls Up

Begin in the basement again. If you don’t have a basement, start with the first floor and locate your internal walls. These walls are the walls inside the four external walls. Follow the trail of each internal wall up through the floors of your home. You can do this by locating the position of a wall on a lower floor. Then move to the floor above that area and check if the wall stretches through the two floors. Check what is directly above the wall.


It is a load-bearing wall if there is another wall. It can also run with joists at ninety degrees or support heavy construction above. But if you have an unfinished space it may not be bearing a load. For instance, an empty basement without a full floor.

Locate Internal Walls Near the Center of the House

Check if there are any internal walls near the center of the house. The size of a house determines how wide apart load-bearing exterior walls will be. As a result, you will need more load-bearing internal walls and support for the floor. 


Most times, these load-bearing walls are roughly near the center of the house. It is because that is the farthest point from any of the exterior walls. Search for an internal wall beside the center of your house. There’s a high chance that the wall is load-bearing. Especially in cases where it runs parallel to a central support beam.

Search for Large Walls with Internal Ends

Internal load-bearing walls can assist the main support beam of the house. These support beams have huge sizes in comparison to nonbearing studs. As a result, the builders will design the wall to accommodate the extra size of the beam. 


If an internal wall has a huge section or large column at its end, it may be covering a main structural support beam. It is a sign that the wall is load-bearing. Some of these structural features may look like decorations. You need to be careful. Sometimes, decorative columns or narrow wooden structures may conceal Important structural beams.

Check for Steel Girders

Builders do not always rely on load-bearing interior walls. Sometimes, they use special structures like steel support girders to conduct weight from the building to the exterior walls. They can also use structures like post and beam constructions. While this is not a guarantee, there is a high chance of interior load-bearing walls.


Search for big, sturdy wooden or metal structures. Check if these structures cross the ceiling of a and intersect a load-bearing wall. If you see these, the close internal walls may not be load-bearing.


With this method, you can get a clue about the position of non-load-bearing walls. But you should check the walls themselves to be sure. If you are not sure, check with the builder and ensure the type of structural construction of your house.

Check If There Is any Structural Modification

You need to check if your house has any modifications to its structure. Many houses, especially old ones, have undergone remodeling several times. If this is the case with your house, the builders may make a former external wall an internal wall. It means the internal wall can be load-bearing for the original structure. 


If your house has undergone any structural modifications, it is best to consult the original builder or a better professional. You need to be sure that your external walls are your real external walls.

Check Your Building Plan

Here is one of the reasons you need to keep your original building plan safe. It can be difficult to guess load-bearing walls depending on the construction of your house. In this case, your house blueprint will prove valuable. 


The blueprint of your house can give you an idea of the position of support beams. You’ll also know the original exterior walls and other important information. You can use this information to check your decisions when deciding on load-bearing walls. 


You must have a copy of your home’s blueprint. If you don’t have a blueprint of your home, you can check:


  • The county clerk’s office
  • The possession of the original owners if it is not a custom home
  • In the possession of the building or contracting company.


You can also hire an architect to redraw your home’s blueprint. It can, however, be costly.

Hire a Building Consultant

If you’re unable to figure out the load-bearing walls in your house, you may need to hire a professional building inspector. 


It may be important for you to find the load-bearing walls in your house. For instance, you may want to remodel or reconstruct a space. In cases like this, it is best to hire professional building inspectors. 


Hiring professionals is worth it if you want to remodel safely. The rate of a home inspection varies according to the size of the house. The builder and the market are also deciding factors. Estimates can cost between a few hundred dollars and as high as one thousand dollars.

How Do Structural Engineers Design Bearing Walls?

There are several types of load-bearing walls. Structural engineers design them according to the type. Let’s take a look at them.

Precast Concrete Wall

The precast concrete wall is aesthetically pleasing. It has superior strength and is long-lasting. The precast concrete wall provides excellent protection and it is easy to install.


How structural engineers design precast concrete walls.


Constructors manufacture the members of precast concrete under certain conditions. It helps to keep tolerances and standard dimensions. The structural elements that constructors use when constructing precast concrete include:


  • Precast concrete wall
  • Precast slabs
  • Precast beam and girders
  • Precast columns
  • Precast stairs. 


Sequence of Erection

Builders erect the precast concrete members according to the preplanned sequence. Generally, structural engineers ensure that the erection plan is in the drawings. It is because of the impact of load-bearing walls on structural stability. The sequence of erection should avoid multiple handling of elements to reduce risks. 


Also, the builders may consider a trial operation. It will help them identify any unforeseen difficulties.


Safety of Structural Erection

The safety of precast concrete while erecting is vital. As a result, all the machines should undergo a high standard of maintenance. The engineers should test the load and ensure it suits utilization.


Structural Tolerance

Generally, the builders should erect precast buildings according to applicable codes. Unless there is the provision of other tolerances in the design and specifications.


Temporary Bracing

A rigging system needs careful and thorough preplanning. It is because builders use it to handle erect precast elements. It may be necessary to equalize load lifting points on certain element beams. It includes beams and first slabs. 


Lifting accessories can be in the form of cables, hooks, or shackles. The selection of these components should consider the forces. It is a result of all the operations that the handling and structuring of the precast unit involve.


The availability and maneuverability of headroom during structuring may also affect the type of rigging system.


Temporary Bracing

The builders must brace and support the precast concrete elements during all phases of erection. It will ensure alignment until the builder completes the structural connections.


Leveling Shims

The builders should form the leveling shims from a suitable and durable material. It should also have adequate strength to carry the full imposed loads. Leveling shims bear a load of full construction from precast elements. It means that they must provide adequate support to prevent movement until the builders incorporate the elements in the main structure.



The structural engineer will ensure that all temporary propping requirements appear in the erection drawings. The design of these systems should be according to applicable codes. Temporary propping should provide adequate support for all construction loads.


Process of Construction


  • After completing the preparation for construction, the builders set the layout of the structure.


  • Then, they construct the foundation of the columns.


  • After that, the builders place the columns using suitable machines. 


  • They continuously check it by a surveyor for alignment. As an alternative, builders can install a large panel system.


  • The builders place the beams for precast frames and precast floors in the case of large panel systems. They also lace the column slab systems.


  • After installing precast concrete beams, the builders erect the precast concrete floors.


  • They follow the above steps until they fulfill the construction.

Retaining Wall

Retaining the wall helps to provide lateral support. Installing a retaining wall offers several benefits to the environment. For instance, it reduces erosion and protects the areas from saturation. You can also call a retaining wall a revetment or breast wall.


Design Process of Retaining Walls


Step 1

The structural engineer develops the project scope of the work. They check the type of retaining wall, length, height, and any surcharge loads. 


Step 2

The engineer checks the condition of the soil. It helps them to understand the soil material they are retaining. They also know the soil material which the structure is bearing.


Step 3

The structural engineer checks for sliding. Here, they design the wall and carry out several checks. It helps them know what works and see that the door does not slide. 


Step 4

The engineer looks out for overturning. Here, they are checking to ensure that the wall does not topple over.


Step 5

Check bearing capacity is the next ideal step. The structural engineer checks the ground bearing capacity to ensure that it can take the loads from the structure.


Step 6

Overall stability check becomes paramount at this stage. The structural engineer will check if the structure is stable. They’ll also consider safety according to the design code. 


Step 7

Structural design becomes complete at this stage. Once the structural engineer does all the checks, they start to complete the structural design according to all the necessary codes and rules.

Masonry Wall

Masonry is the most durable part of any building structure. It allows the architect to carve unlimited expressions. They also offer strength and longevity. Masonry walls will help in controlling the indoor and outdoor temperature of a building. Their fire resistance is high and lateral stiffness is low. 


A structural engineer designs load-bearing masonry walls according to the toe of masonry.


Stone, Brick, or Block Masonry Construction

The structural engineer uses stones, bricks, or concrete blocks to construct the load-bearing wall. They can apply this type of masonry to both interior and exterior wall construction. 


Cavity Masonry Construction

The cavity masonry load-bearing structure involves two walls. These walls have a hollow space or cavity in them. The exterior and interior parts of the walls are a reflection of the brick’s beauty. Builders like cavity masonry construction because it needs little maintenance.


Reinforced Masonry Construction

Constructing reinforced masonry walls as load-bearing walls helps to withstand compressive forces and heavy tension. Builders can construct a load-bearing masonry wall without steel reinforcement. However, they hardly ever employ this type of masonry. It is because it results in obvious cracks and maintenance issues.


Single or Composite Masonry Construction

The builders can build the load-bearing structure with a single material. It can also be a composite structure. Composite load-bearing masonry construction incorporates two or more units. These include stones, bricks, or hollow bricks. The result is better structural appearance and economization.

Pre Panelized Load Bearing Metal Stud Walls

Structural engineers use this for the exterior wall cladding. The metal can either be copper or aluminum. Sometimes, structural engineers use stainless steel. Metal stud walls support gravity, wind loading, and seismic activity. 


Design Considerations


Podium construction

The builders should design the podium level to heightened deflection criteria. It will help to account for the sensitivity of the gypsum wallboard (GWB). If the podium level is not sufficiently stiff, accumulation of displacement can result in cracking. The structural engineer should consider the depth of the structure bearing the walls.


Fire ratings

The metal stud wall must achieve a high-level fire rating. It is because builders consider it the primary carrying member of structural load. This is additional weight and the builders should consider it when designing the studs. 


An additional consideration is the continuity of the ratings. It must continue around other important areas of the building. For instance door jams, electrical boxes, and other similar items. 


The design team should coordinate all necessary penetrations into the metal stud wall whenever possible.


Future Flexibility

Metal studs may allow a partition wall to serve as a primary structural element. However, future flexibility can be difficult. Although this is acceptable for commercial purposes, it is not too good in apartments. Especially in situations where the owners may want to modify the structure in the future. 


One way builders work around this problem is by using a long-span floor system. Here, either the exterior or corridor walls are the primary bearing. The structural engineer can also use only unit partly walls as the primary bearing wall, or a combination.


Non-stacked walls

Metal studs are an efficient system in cases of repetitive usage. However, inefficiencies can affect the system. Usually, this can decrease the wall design and fabrication. Another downside is the complexity of construction trade sequencing.


One way structural engineers can avoid this is to prevent the intrusion of atypical programs. 


Top track details

Top tracks present in a metal stud load-bearing wall can function as an element for load distribution. Usually, this is in situations where the floor system does not align with a vertical stud. 


Structural engineers typically install wall panels on top of each level. So, they should design the top track to transfer the load of the floor system.


Sequence of Construction


Proper coordination of trades during vertical erection will improve the efficiency of construction. The structural engineer will need to stage traditional trades as they construct each floor. For instance, masons, ironworkers, carpenters, and concrete placement workers.


Exterior cladding and slab edges

The exterior edge of a metal stud load-bearing wall can sometimes be the thin edge of a concrete slab on a steel deck. It helps to create structural efficiency depending on the material system. 


It is vital to determine the attachment systems early when considering a metal stud for load bearing wall. The structural engineer must establish the intricate details of the design for the load-bearing wall.


Engineering brick wall

This type of load-bearing wall uses double open-ended bond beam blocks. Builders make it with a mold and they place the wall horizontally. 




In brickwork, the builders lay the bricks lengthwise in the wall. They call these the stretchers and the process, the stretching course. The bricks the builders lay across the wall thickness are headers. The course is the heading course. 


Builders can arrange the brick in several ways to produce a satisfactory bond. They identify each arrangement by the pattern of headers and stretchers on the face of the wall. These patterns often vary in appearance and they result in characteristic textures on the wall surfaces. 


They may use a particular bond for its surface pattern instead of strength properties. To maintain the bond, the builders should cut the brick in various ways. Each cut should have a technical name according to how they cut it.


The simplest arrangements may sometimes be only suitable for partitions and cavity walls. The thicker walls that the builders build with stretchers may likely buckle. They mainly use the heading bond in only curved walls.


The English bond and Flemish bond are the two bonds that structural engineers most commonly use for walls.  These bonds work for both headers and stretchers in the wall. The structural engineer arranges them by placing a header centrally over each stretcher. In both bonds, the structural engineer should use 120 bricks of standard size per m² of 23cm wall. 


Structural engineers can sometimes use bricks when constructing cavity walls. It is because the airspace improves the thermal resistance. It also improves resistance to rain penetration in comparison to solid walls of the same thickness. 


The structural engineer usually builds such with an inner and outer leaf in a stretching bond. They leave a space or cavity of 50 to 90mm between the leaves. The connection of the two leaves is by metal wall ties with a spacing of 450mm vertically and 900mm horizontally.


Structural engineers treat stone walls as stone structures just like masonry construction. The wall offers a building structure and encloses an area. 



The structural engineers lay quarried stone blocks in the same way as concrete blocks. They can either be rough or dressed to a smooth surface. The builder builds random walls using stones of rand sizes and shapes as they come from the quarry. Some walls use laminated varieties of stones that split easily. It is so that they can become straight and easy to use. Constructors call these walls squared rubble wailing. 


In these walls, the structural engineer achieves longitudinal bonds by overlapping stones in adjacent courses. However, the amount of overlap varies because the stones vary in size. They build the rubble walls as two skins by filling the irregular space with rubble material. The structural engineer then ensures a transverse bond or tie by the use of long header stones (bonders). 


These extend not more than three-quarters through the thickness of the wall to prevent the passage of moisture. The structural engineer also uses large stones, usually square in shape for corners and jams of windows and door openings. It helps them obtain higher strength and stability at this point. 


Structural engineers may build random rubble walls as walling without course. Here, they do not make any attempt to line the stones into horizontal courses. 


Rough squaring of the stones can increase load-bearing wall stability. It can also improve its weather resistance since the stones bed together more closely. The joints are thinner and so, there is less shrinkage in the mortar. External load-bearing stone walls should be at least 300mm thick for a one-story building.

How do I Know Which Walls to Remove or Relocate?

It is always best to remove or relocate partition walls. Tampering with load-bearing walls can affect the structural integrity of your house. 


We have already had an extensive discussion on how to understand and discover load-bearing walls. 


While there are some ways to know the best walls to remove or relocate, it is always best to consult with an architect. You can also ask a professional architectural technologist to confirm before you start any remodeling.


Most architects of expert architectural technologists will charge you a fee to come to your house. They will then confirm if the wall is a load-bearing wall or not. If it turns out that it is structural, you will need to hire their services immediately. It will help you achieve a complete set of architectural drawings so that the authorities can approve your permit. 


It is important to prepare to consult experts because of professionalism and experience. You may think the wall is only a partition wall when it is load-bearing. 


Taking down a load-bearing wall can cause your house to collapse. It means you will incur more costs, several times the fee you should have paid the architectural technologist.

Can You Safely Remove and Relocate a Load Bearing Wall?

You can safely relocate a load-bearing wall and build a new one in its place. 


The first major step is to remove the drywall and strip it down the wall to its barest form. Load-bearing walls carry almost the whole weight of the house. As a result, structural engineers employ the use of sturdier materials than other types of walls. 


They may frame nonbearing walls with wood. But they will reinforce load-bearing walls with materials like concrete and steel bars. 


Next, you should tear down the insides. Remove all of the beams, concrete, and bricks. Ensure that you have some sturdy two-by-fours handy. You can also use steel braces to provide support while you construct a new permanent solution point. 


You don’t have to use a wall to bear the load. There are plenty of other structures that can support the weight of a building. For instance, you can use pillars. Pillars are a common option. Although they are not physically substantial, they can support the same load as a wall if you do the correct construction. 


You can tuck a sturdy beam into a beam cradle. You can also use a pocket in the ceiling of the room along the length of the walls instead of a full wall.


You should know that removing one of the walls of your house can be tasking and risky. So you need more planning and expertise than repainting the house. 


A professional will ensure that the key steps are correctly in place. For instance, determining if the wall is load bearing and designing an effective pillar in place. 


If you hire a pro, you’ll have to pay for their services. But this is nothing in comparison to the risk you will be taking if you choose the DIY route.

Common Mistakes People Make When Identifying Load Bearing Walls

Below are some of the common mistakes people make when identifying load-bearing walls. 

Not checking the foundation

It is risky to not check the foundations when looking for load-bearing walls. It is important to look at the foundation. 


Not looking at the foundation is putting your house in a situation of potential collapse. It is because any walls that rest on the foundation are load-bearing walls. Even if they are not, it is necessary to consider them so. 


Your housing foundation may be pad or concrete. You may have a basement or you may not. Whichever way, the first mistake to make is to not look at your foundation first. 

Not looking at the floor joists

It’s easy to overlook this especially if you’re DIYing your house. Joints offer floor support. You can find them between foundations, beams, and walls.


Do not consider the wall parallel to the joists’ load bearing. Walls at an angle of ninety degrees to the joists are usually load-bearing.

Not Inspecting the Blueprint

You may not always be able to determine all the load-bearing walls. Especially because you’re not a professional architect or a structural engineer. The next best thing to do is to go to your local county records office. You should request the original blueprints of your house.


People often ignore this and it can be very costly. You should easily identify a load-bearing wall on the blueprints. 


You’ll also want to consider any remodeling that may have occurred since the builders originally built the house. 


Even when you have the blueprint, you may need the help of an architect to help decode the meanings. You will then know the walls that are safe to remove.

Not hiring an expert

If you feel stuck, your next best bet is to hire an expert. Trying to do the DIY anyway will affect the structure of your house. It is important to call a professional even if you’re sure!

Why Home Renovation That Requires Wall Demolition Is Not a DIY Project

Demolition work is extremely dangerous. If you attempt to perform the work on your own instead of hiring an expert, you can injure yourself. You can also expose your family to health hazards and cause more damage to your house. 


Here are the details of why DIY is not the best in this case.

Premature Collapse

Premature collapse can occur when an older home has a defect or if a professional doesn’t perform the demolition. Most interior walls in a building are partition walls and are not vital for structural house support.  Some are however load bearing walls that carry the weight of the roof or story. If you remove a load-bearing wall improperly, the house can become weak. It means sudden collapse because the structure can no longer bear the weight. 


A structural engineer will help you avoid this by assessing the building. They will examine the component strength and other factors that ensure safe demolition.

Damage to Plumbing and Electrical System

A typical house has both electrical fixtures and plumbing systems. As an average homeowner, it can be hard for you to determine which of the walls contain these fixtures. Even if you know, telling their exact location is a hard task. 


It means if you try to demolish your home yourself, you can damage the plumbing and electrical fixtures. It is because you don’t know exactly where they are and so you may destroy them in the process. It will cost you more than the whole renovation project to repair these components. You can also increase the risk of water leakage and flooding in your house. 


A professional will help you avoid all these. They will check if your walls contain any hidden water pipes or electrical fixtures. That way, you won’t have to worry about damage.

Health Risks

Tiny particles of dust can get into the air when you try to break through construction materials. Some of this dust can be irritating when you inhale them. They can also affect your eyes. Some particles are however toxic and may cause you to develop severe medical conditions. These include silicosis or lung cancer. 


A professional will prevent this by taking the right safety measures to reduce or get rid of the risks.

Damage to Your Furnishing

You may think it is cumbersome to move all your furnishing out before you DIY. However, you would put your items at risk if you leave them in the house. It is even worse if you decide to perform the work yourself.


Renovation jobs can be messy and you’ll have first and dust all around you. Professionals know the best way to protect the items when taking down a wall. They ensure that your items are safe from dangerous materials and damage.


Apart from a structural engineer, other people that can identify load-bearing walls are an architect or professional architectural technologists.

How to Build a Partition

This construction method works for load-bearing walls above the sub-level. It also works on partitions that are non load bearing. It is one of the DIY parts of construction that beginners can find easy. 

Measuring Space

The first step you should take is measuring the space where you’ll put the wall. Decide if there will be a door in the wall. If so, keep the top board solid while accommodating the door with partial studs. 


Measure across the ceiling and floor and ensure they have the same length. In older homes, the measurement can be different. It will make things difficult. Next, measure the vertical space on the left and right. 

Horizontal Boards

You will need two horizontal boards. They should run the length of space measured. Ensure you measure the space and mark the boards properly before cutting. Then cut both boards.

Cutting Studs

You will need to place the studs every 16 inches. So mark the horizontal board every 16  inches. Don’t panic if it’s less than 16 inches. It’s better to be less than more. If it’s less, add extra. Then start the cutting process.


Each board will need to be the same length. You should take out 3 inches for the 2x4s on top and bottom. For instance, if your ceiling is 60″, then cut the studs to 67″ for easy accommodation.

Screwing Studs In

After cutting all the boards, screw the two end boards on. It will ensure that you don’t leave an overhang. You can place the boards in the right place, then leave them and screw the others in.


Use two screws for each end of each board. It means you will use four screws per board. Everything should be flush or else it will be difficult to screw anything in. Even the drywall. Take your time and get it right. 

Placing Support Walls

Build the wall while it is where it should go when you’re done. It should be laying on the floor as you do this. You can then put the wall up. It will be when you finish screwing all the boards in. 


Once it is in place, use a rubber mallet to level it. Hold the level on each side and hammer the wall with a mallet. Keep doing this until it is in place.


You’re done already. Remember to mark it either way. It is so that no one else will have issues trying to identify load-bearing walls in your house again.

Kitchen Island with Load Bearing Wall

To make a kitchen island with a load-bearing wall, you should take time and figure out your budget. Kitchen islands with load-bearing walls are not cheap projects.


Replacing a load-bearing wall with a support beam will cost between $4,000 and $10,000. A kitchen island beam will cost more than that. 


You will also need a professional engineer, it is not a DIY project. Your biggest issue will be to find out what’s below the floor. You will need to ensure that the load path follows the same path as the footings in the ground.


A structural engineer will determine beam size, distance, and total expenses. So if the cost of renovation does not exceed the value of the home.

Important Note

Opening size

Any opening less than 6 feet can have just one 2×4 under the beam. It creates a wide bearing point of 1.5 inches wide. If it’s wider than 6 feet, it should have a minimum opening of two 2x4s under each beam. It will prevent damage to the second floor. 


You can also fix doors in load-bearing walls. But don’t remove a stud that bears the end of the load so it can redistribute weight. Ensure the right-sized headers are on jack studs to take the weight.

Pocket doors

You can install a pocket door in a load-bearing wall. But you should replace the old header with a longer one. It may require temporary ceiling support too. A wall with pipes isn’t a good idea for pocket doors. 


How do you hide a load-bearing wall?

You can extend the steel beam’s length or cover it with drywall. 


You can also install a bookcase over it to cover it with a big TV. You can also cover it with a big mirror. It will make the room appear bigger. 

Can you put french doors in a load-bearing wall?

Yes, but you will seek expert help. The wall in your house may be load-bearing. If you cut out a chunk of it, you must find a way to support the weight the wall was holding.


Not knowing how to identify load-bearing walls will cause problems. Typically, interior walls have floor joists. They also have a high load-bearing capacity. An interior wall is a load bearing if it runs in one direction parallel to the joists or in the same direction.


A load-bearing wall carries the load that the structure imposes on it. These loads come from beams and slabs above including their weight. The load-bearing wall then transfers all this weight to the foundation.  


Load-bearing wall supports structural members. These include beams, slabs, and walls on the floors above. A load-bearing wall can either be an interior wall or an exterior wall. It braces from the roof to the floor. 


There are several types of load-bearing walls. They include precast concrete, retaining, and masonry wall. Pre-panelized load-bearing metal stud walls, engineering brick walls, and stone walls are also a part of them. 


When the height of a building increases, the thickness that the wall requires will also increase. Often, the resulting stress on the foundation will also increase. 


Non-bearing walls or partition walls do not support any structure. They simply carry their weight. They are not load-bearing like slabs and beams. Builders simply use these walls to separate rooms from each other. Some refer to it as an interior wall.


We have extensively discussed other important things about all you need to know concerning load-bearing walls in this article. Load-bearing walls are also important for the structural integrity and longevity of the house.