A lot of shows on television about renovating homes include removing walls to make a space bigger and to help your home feel more open. However, if you want to do that in your own home, you can’t just remove or move whatever wall you like to meed the layout of your dreams. If you’re building an addition onto your home, the last thing you want to do is accidentally knock down your load-bearing wall! Unfortunately, many homeowners aren’t sure whether or not their walls are load-bearing. If you’re trying to determine if your wall might be load-bearing, take a look at these signs that it probably is.
The Wall is a Perfect Square
Many homeowners have a difficult time determining if a wall is a load-bearing one or not. In order to get an accurate answer, you’ll need to measure your wall from top to bottom and side to side using a measuring tape to see if it’s a perfect square. Next, you’ll need to make a note of these dimensions, which should be about eight inches in length and four inches in width. Subtracting these two numbers from each other will provide you with a number that represents your wall’s area in square inches. The easiest way for you to determine if your wall is load-bearing or not is by plugging your values into either of these equations.
If the wall isn’t weight-bearing, then it is unlikely that the wall is perfectly square. The biggest reason for this is because weight-bearing walls have additional support beams to keep the wall in place and the walls are typically made square. However, this is only one of the tests you can do to test if it’s a weight-bearing wall. With that being the case, you need to use additional tests to make sure.
The Studs Have Drywall on Both Sides
If a wall doesn’t have drywall on both sides, it is a load-bearing wall. These walls aren’t necessarily a problem if they are being used for structural purposes. The drywall on one side just needs to be held up by wood or another material that can bear the weight of whatever is attached to it. In most cases, though, you want to know how much load your wall will be supporting before making any alterations or considering wall repositioning. Wall repositioning is a great example because it’s when you move a wall a few feet or even just a few inches. Oftentimes, this is done to make a hallway bigger or to give more space around a window. However, there are additional steps for repositioning a load baring wall compared to a basic wall with studs in it.
There Are Framing Nails on Both Sides
When figuring out if a wall is a load-bearing wall, ask yourself what kind of doors are in front of it. Many people often use interior doors to seal off parts of their home (think: closets, storage rooms). If you have an interior door leading into your basement or storage room, that’s probably not your load-bearing wall—even if that’s where it looks like one.
When in doubt, always seek professional help when making decisions about structural integrity. However, basic questions can usually give you clues as to whether or not you should be doing DIY work in any given area—though it’s best to err on the side of caution when dealing with foundations and roofing.
It’s Joining Two Rooms Together
If you’re trying to determine whether a wall is a load-bearing, ask yourself: does it look like it’s joining two rooms together? If you answered yes, then there’s a good chance that it is. If you answered no, then it can still potentially be a load-bearing wall. The best way to determine what your wall is doing for your home (and what you can do with it) is to get in touch with a professional.
Is the Wall Visible on the Original Building Plans
If you have an older home, it is possible that a previous homeowner added a wall to create a separate space. To see if that may be the case, you can compare your current building plan to the original one, which can typically be found in the archives of your local city. When you compare the original plans with the current plans, any walls that have changed, are likely non-weight bearing.
Talk to a Professional
If you aren’t an experienced builder or contractor, the risk of demolishing a weight-bearing wall and thus causing serious damage that may not be repairable isn’t worth the cost of talking to a professional. Oftentimes, pros will provide a free consultation, at which point, they can share their expertise about whether or not the wall is weight-bearing. Additionally, they can provide alternative recommendations if the wall is weight-bearing. There are ways to move and reposition weight-bearing walls, however, the cost to do so isn’t typically worth the extra space you hope to achieve by doing so, so keep that in mind.
When you’re building or renovating your home, it’s important to know the difference between load-bearing walls and non-load-bearing walls. If you’re not careful about which walls you support, you could end up with major structural issues that are difficult and expensive to fix down the line. Luckily, there are several telltale signs that will let you know if your wall should be left untouched during construction, so keep this guide handy before your renovation begins.