Can I Remove This Wall? Removing a Load Bearing Beam - Making an Open Floor Plan
Many modern-style houses are built with an open floor plan. Although this provides plenty of space and makes your home feel more open, achieving this style in traditional houses will require some work. If you are looking to remodel your home to add more space, you will need to remove a wall.
Things to Consider Before Removing a Wall
Removing a wall isn’t always a straightforward process, and often involves more remodeling work than just the wall removal. Many factors determine whether or not a wall can be removed. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before removing a wall.
- Is the wall load-bearing? Load-bearing walls and beams, as their name suggests, bear a significant amount of structural weight. Does the wall you want to remove provide structure for your house? If so, you’ll need to think carefully about removing it.
- Will I need to do any work to the floor? Once you remove a wall, you will have to fill in the gaps in the floor. Chances are you will also make a mess during the remodeling process, so the floors will need to be refinished so the new section of floor doesn’t stick out. Carpet, laminate, and tile flooring will usually need to be replaced altogether.
- What about the ceiling? With the wall gone, that section of ceiling, and sometimes the other walls, will need to be patched. The other rooms may also benefit from a new coat of paint.
- What’s inside the wall? Many walls house water pipes, air ducts, pipes, and wires. You’ll need to know what’s inside the wall you want to remove, and formulate a plan for replacing those structures or reroute the wires.
Be sure to factor in the costs of floor replacement, paint, and pipe and duct replacement into your project budget.
How to Identify Load-Bearing Beams and Walls
The following features typically indicate a load-bearing wall.
- Metal I-beams or multi-board wood beams. Any walls above these types of beams, and any walls above those walls, are typically load-bearing.
- Floor and ceiling joists. Identify any floor and ceiling joists. Walls that are perpendicular to these joists – as well as walls located at floor joist intersections – are usually load-bearing.
- Walls located directly above load-bearing walls. It makes sense that any wall located directly above a load-bearing wall is also load-bearing, since structural weight is transferred from one floor to the next.
- Outside walls that support the roof. These are obviously bearing walls.
Options for Replacement
Although replacing a load-bearing wall involves more work compared to non-load-bearing walls, it can be done. Here are just a few options for replacement.
- Install a new beam under the ceiling. You will need to replace the structural support. Installing a new beam under the ceiling is the easiest method for replacing a load-bearing wall. If you want to install a new ceiling beam, installing posts is crucial. This ensures the weight is transferred down to the foundation.
- Install a new beam flush to the ceiling. This approach is a little more difficult, since you will need to cut through the ceiling joists and other supports. However, your ceiling won’t be interrupted by the new beam.
Remember, all new beams must be supported by posts, and most new posts must be supported by footings, especially if they are located in the basement or on the ground floor. If you want to hide the new beam, consider recessing it. This will incur extra costs.
Benefits of a Contractor
Removing a wall is tricky, especially since determining whether or not it is load-bearing is often difficult. If you’re not exactly an expert carpenter, you should consider hiring a contractor.
Outsourcing your remodeling project to a contractor will ensure you aren’t injured. A contractor will also be able to tell if a wall is load bearing or not, which will eliminate a lot of guesswork and labor hours.
A professional contractor can also take care of the post-remodel patches and cleanup for you. They’ll also be able to read, and perhaps create, a floor plan of your house, if you don’t already have one. This makes it much easier to identify load-bearing walls.
Hiring a structural contractor or engineer will cost you anywhere from $300 to $1,000, but the extra money spent is well worth the peace of mind. Many factors must be considered before removing a load-bearing wall, and hiring an expert will take that responsibility off your shoulders.
Need help finding a contractor or structural engineer? GreatPros has got you covered. Tell us about your project, and we’ll put you in touch with a local, licensed, and vetted contractor who will fit your needs and budget.