Determining a Load Bearing Wall
QUESTION TO MR. HANDYMAN
I have been looking for some help with a project I would like to do in my house. I have been recommended to you by my co-worker that has used your services several times. 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 concept. All I see from researching the web/hgtv and other sites is: “It could be a simple project - unless it is a load-bearing wall”. How do I know if it is a load-bearing wall? Does your company take down such walls? Thanks for your time. Amy Lynn
Thank you for your question, Amy Lynn.
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 its 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 the front to the back of the house. The joists are usually 2 x10 boards, 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, and floor joists. If the wall in question runs in the same direction as the columns and beam, it will be load-bearing.
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. Why is this? The more head-room you have the better. When the section is removed a header will be put in its place. A header is the ceiling support that the wall used to handle. All doors and windows and walk-throughs have a title. The wider the opening, the larger the board need to be to make the header. Most often a header is made from a double 2x6, 2x8, or 2x10. Steel I-beams can also be used. The specific beam to use will need to be calculated based on the beam span, load capacities, and length of the span.
This is a job that is best left to professional people since it is very important that it is done right.
Our technicians at Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County 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.
If you decide to have Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County visit you, our experienced and top-rated techs would be able to help you with this and any other jobs you wish to have done. No job is too small.
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