How can I identify a supporting wall on my house?

Written by amanda c. kooser
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How can I identify a supporting wall on my house?
Identify the supporting walls of your house. (young woman painting a wall green on a ledder image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com)

Remodelling projects can inspire a lot of changes in a house. Knocking down walls to make a more open floor plan is one project that many remodelers tackle. Before you grab the sledgehammer, you need to know which walls you can safely remove and which walls need to be left alone. Identify supporting walls in your house by learning what to look for. You want to insure the structural integrity of your home before, during and after your remodelling project.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Walk around the inside and outside of the house. Most external walls are supporting walls. Take extra care if your plans involve knocking a hole in or removing part of an external wall. The walls that support the roof of your house are always load-bearing walls.

  2. 2

    Locate the floor joists in your house. These can be found by going into your basement, crawlspace or attic. The joists are long pieces of wood that run parallel to each other. Walls that run perpendicular to the floor joists are usually supporting walls. Walls that run parallel are usually not supporting walls.

  3. 3

    Find any intersections of floor or ceiling joists. If this intersection occurs over a wall, consider that wall to be supporting.

  4. 4

    Review any additions that have already been made to the house. Check the architectural plans for where the additions were placed if they are available. Load-bearing walls that were formerly outside walls may now be interior walls.

  5. 5

    Hire a professional building inspector or structural engineer to make a determination about any walls you are in doubt about.

Tips and warnings

  • Posts in the basement or crawlspace can indicate supporting walls up above.
  • When in doubt about whether a wall is supporting, treat it as if it is.
  • Not all external walls are always load-bearing. Some houses are designed so that only some of the outside walls support the roof weight. An engineer, architect or building inspector can help determine if your house is one of these.

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