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How do you know if it's a Weight-Bearing Wall

A house of cards succinctly illustrates the concept of load-bearing walls; every horizontal card must be supported by vertical cards; and as cards build upward, their weight bears down on the lower walls. A real house works the same way, except that the load-bearing walls aren’t so easy to locate. Identify these important walls using a few rules that apply broadly to buildings before starting your project. Always remember, though, that even if it doesn’t fit one of these categories, it might still be a load-bearing wall.

Note exterior walls -- and original exterior walls concealed by later additions. These walls directly support roof trusses or rafters. Side walls are primary load-bearing walls in simple gable-end framing, but hip roofs and complex roof lines depend on more than just the side walls.

Locate the floor joists that run across the house between outside walls. Look in the basement or up under the house in the crawl space; joists may be from 2 to 4 inches across and 6 to 10 inches deep and run parallel to each other across the building, terminating on opposing sills or foundation walls around the perimeter of the building. Any wall that runs perpendicular across these joists qualifies as a load-bearing wall. If your house is more than 14 or 15 feet wide, assume that every wall parallel to the central wall running across joists is a load-bearing wall.

Climb up to the attic and chart the pattern of truss joists. Compound post-20th century roof lines and complex Victorian and Revival roofs may require additional walls to support turrets, dormers and hips.

Examine walls carefully when you pull the wallboard off. Plumbers and electricians favor load-bearing walls for utilities. A heavy post concealed in a wall provides a clue to previous remodeling of a bearing wall. A wall directly under a wall on an upper floor may be a bearing wall.

Check doors, windows and other openings that contain extra timber, called headers, above these openings; double 2-by-4-inch jambs along the sides and 2-by-6 or larger headers compensate for missing studs in bearing walls.

Consult with a Das Haus Design professional at 818 280 99292 for a FREE Consultation or to inspect for load-bearing elements. Your local building code may require this step and, unless your house is brand new and the builder has marked every load-bearing element, it’s the only way to surely identify weight-bearing walls.

For more information, do not hesitate to Contact Us.

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