QUESTION TO MR. HANDYMAN

I own a cape style home w/ 1250 sq ft.  I would like to take down a portion of a wall between the kitchen and the dining room which will make it a more open room. How do I know if it is a load bearing wall?

Thanks,

Amy Lynn

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The best way to determine a load bearing wall is to see if the wall in question is running perpendicular to the joists. If the wall is, and it is running in the center of the house, then it is a load-bearing wall. The joists are often hidden in the ceiling and/or floor. So how do you tell which way the joists are running?

A cape, if broken down to it’s basic shape, forms a rectangle. The front and rear of the house would be the longer lines of the shape. The floor and ceiling joists will be running from front to back of the house. The joist is a 2 x10 board, spaced 16” apart along the width of the house. Another thing to look at is in the basement if you have one. The basement will have lolly columns supporting the main beam running perpendicular to the first floor, floor joists. On The first floor, just above the columns a wall running in the same direction as the lollys, would be a load bearing wall.

Now if you wish to remove a portion of a load-bearing wall or widen a doorway or walk-through on such a wall, you will need to do a bit more work. Much would depend on the height from floor to ceiling and the size of the opening you want. The more head-room you have the better. When the section is removed, a header will be put in it’s place. A header is the ceiling support that the wall used to handle. All doors and windows and walk-through have a header. The wider the opening, the larger the support beam will need to be to make the header. Most often a header is made from a double 2 x 6, 2 x 8, or 2 x 10 with ½” plywood sandwiched between, a double LVL (laminated veneer lumber), or a steel I-beam.

Mr. Handyman technicians hold years of experience dealing with projects like this. If you feel unsure about being a do-it-yourself person, just give us a call and say “Help,” and help will be there just when you need it, “ON TIME.” You can also take comfort knowing that the work will be, “DONE RIGHT,” with 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.