How can you tell if a wall is load-bearing?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by newowner, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. newowner

    newowner New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Central Maryland
    We might remodel our kitchen and there is a wall 30" long by 4 3/4" wide that is in our kitchen that gives the effect of separation between the part of the kitchen that has the cabinets and appliances and the part that a lot of people who own the same style home as us use as a family room. The whole room is a long rectangle except for that wall jutting out. We use the "family room" part as part of our kitchen, too, so we have a kitchen table, etc, in there so we don't need to feel separated. We wanted to make a penisula where that wall is. How does one tell if it is a load-bearing wall?
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Since you are not well versed this, I would get a contractor to look at it.

    Basically, the first thing he will look to see is if the ceiling joists are perpendicular to the wall ( very possibly load bearing wall) or parallel to the wall ( probably not load bearing wall.)

    However, this is an over-simplified explanation, and sight unseen I would not hazard a conclusive guess. There are other possibilities. A knowledgeable person needs to SEE this.
  3. newowner

    newowner New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Central Maryland
    Jimbo-my husband had a contractor who does remodel/additions come out to give an estimate on the kitchen and he said the wall "was probably not load-bearing." The joists in our basement (which would make up the floor of our kitchen) run parallel to this wall. I guess I was wondering why the contractor didn't give a definite yes/no about the wall and was wondering what kind of tests or examination needed to be done to tell for sure.

    P.S. Sorry for the fact I am so unknowledgable about all this-I'm sure for all you highly experienced people my questions are boring.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  4. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,660
    Location:
    .
    Regarding the load bearing walls, get a few opinions before knocking a questionable wall down. My brother knocked down a wall, against the advice of my husband, who was knowledeable in this, and he ended up having to put jacks up in the basement. Also, having to add a beam upstairs. I think things are structured for a reason, and unless, it is really necessary to remove the wall, I would leave it alone.
  5. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Is your basement finished, or can you actually see your floor joists? If that 30" divider in your kitchen is a load-bearing wall, there would almost certainly be some extra framing between your floor joists below to distribute the load across those joists whether that "wall" happens to be between two of them or sits directly over just one.

    The real question here, however, is that of asking what load that bit of wall might actually be bearing. So then, do you know anything about the framing directly above it? If your floor above is essentially the same as in the area of your kitchen and there is no bathtub, fireplace or anything else of significant weight directly above that 30" divider, I cannot imagine what load it would even possibly be bearing.

    If that project you have mentioned was mine, I would first take the "x-ray look" we are presently talking about, and unless I could find any evidence to the contrary, I would proceed to confirm the structural insignificance of that particular bit of wall by opening the ceiling around it to see how it is fastened at the top. My educated guess as an old man who used to work as a framer before being licensed as a residential contractor at about age 24 is that you will find little or even nothing more above that "wall" than a couple of pieces of 2x4 scabbed in to hold it steady until the sheetrock had been hung.
  6. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    What I'd Need To Know

    What is the detail[ framing] above the wall.IF ceiling or 2nd floor joists are spliced on this partition,It's surley load bearing. You very well may not know what you are looking at. Also the drywall may need to be removed to see this detail. This is a job for a pro. good luck
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    This short room divider runs parallel to the joists of the floor on which it sits, and it would be unlikely the upper joists run perpendicular. A little tapping around and near the wall in question could confirm whether it holds up 30" of one end of the upper floor.
  8. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    I just reread the posts. I believe You're right. wall running parallel shouldn't.be carrying any weight.
  9. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,660
    Location:
    .
    A structural engineer is what I would call if I wanted to do this kind of remodeling. I would want to be certain. Just my suggestion to the homeowner here. :)
  10. compare with other homeowners

    newowner,

    Compare notes with other people who have this same floor plan house. You mentioned this in your first post.

    When a house is built stick by stick, made of wood, each wall can actually be both load bearing and not necessarily essential. After you have checked with other people, you will know whether anyone ever removed that wall you are looking at. Also, you will know a lot better how to describe the situation to us and to others. Then you will get answers very very close to the final answer.

    Ultimately you may have to accept having a 4"x4" wood pillar going from the ceiling down into somewherr in the middle or the edge of your new peninsula. Insurance.

    David
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2007
  11. In this case it depends on whether the builder was deliberately following the other floor plan that doesn't have this wall in it. Then, the wall is optional. On the other hand, a builder might have used shorter joists since the wall was there to be used as a load support.

    A friend of mine called the original builder up and asked which of two walls was load bearing. The builder said either one could be removed but not both. Interesting thing is that the builder remembered that after 25 years.

    david
  12. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    The needed examination has been detailed to you, and I am quite confident you would have absolutely no structural problem(s) as a result of removing that 30" of wall. When I first read your initial post a few days ago, I mis-read it to be saying 30' ... and now that would have almost definitely been considered a problem, sight unseen!

    The reason the contractor did not give you a definitive answer there was likely because he might not have yet been absolutely certain himself, and because he had not yet thought through and discussed with you all the other possible non-load-bearing issues. For example, it can be difficult and expensive to alter the surface of a textured ceiling without leaving some kind of tell-tale sign or signs, and the same could quite possibly be true concerning your floor. In other words, maybe he hesitated a bit because he was not yet sure everyone, including himself, was ready to fully commit to doing whatever would/could be required in order to make the desired alteration. However, be assured that nearly anything can be done to any kind of structure as long as there are no restrictive limits on time and money.
  13. Refinisher

    Refinisher New Member

    Messages:
    20
    I will tell you but I will say this first:

    If you have to ask hire a professional!

    I will tell you that is very hard to make sure that a wall is load bearing even by some pros. So take great caution!

    Mentioned below is definatly a load bearing wall:

    If you can view the joists in the attic, is the wall parallel or perpendicular to them? Generally, load bearing walls are perpendicular to the joists they support. If two separate floor joists or ceiling joists intersect over a wall, that wall should be considered load bearing

    At minimum get a building inspector to your home, the cost is normally around $250 however he is a trained professional. Next get it in writing!
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,292
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    wall

    The wall is only 30" long, which means it would be almost useless as a bearing wall, unless it was supporting a main beam which was supporting an upper wall, except the next point makes that an invalid assumption. It runs parallel to the floor joists so there is no support for it, which also indicates it is not a bearing wall.
Similar Threads: tell wall
Forum Title Date
Remodel Forum & Blog Best way to frame concrete half wall in daylight partial exposure basement? Mar 12, 2014
Remodel Forum & Blog Bathroom remodel with wall hung toilet. Need advice on plumbing and venting. Mar 10, 2014
Remodel Forum & Blog Mounting heavy wall hung sink Feb 20, 2014
Remodel Forum & Blog DUROCK Cement Board for Exterior Walls Dec 25, 2013
Remodel Forum & Blog Exterior Wall Set directly on joists - is it ok? Nov 19, 2013

Share This Page