Load Bearing VS Non-Load Bearing: The Essential Guide to Removing Walls in Your Home

PaintingHome renovations often become small demolition projects, especially when it comes to living spaces and kitchens that have too many walls.  Modern day homes are open spaces.  Pretty typically, only the bedroom and bathroom occupy a separated space from the rest of the house.  Layouts are now more determined by the layout of furniture than by actual wall dividers.

So you have decided to join the buzz and tear down a wall.  Before you do that, make sure you read this! Some walls in a house are absolutely essential they are what helps keep that roof up!

Here are the keys to determining the load bearing versus non load bearing walls in your home:

Floor Joists

These are the horizontal supports that appear under a floor, in a ceiling or on top of the houses foundation. Unfinished basements provide the best visibility for spotting these joists.  Go downstairs and just look up!  Once you have them in your sights, take note of the direction that they are running.  Are they north/south, east/west?  Their direction will help signal where a load bearing wall probably is.  Load bearing walls typically run perpendicular to floor joists.


While you are in the basement, look around to see if you notice any beams. These are typically made of sturdier materials and run vertically from the foundation upwards.  If the beam is coming out of the wall, that segment of wall is load bearing. The same goes for if you see a beam running across the ceiling on one of the levels of your home.  The walls that that beam is connected to are more likely than not, essential to the integrity of your home.


Does your house have more than one floor? If so take note of the walls and their locations on the first floor, then head upstairs.  On the next level notice which walls have the same placement as the first.  If there are more stories, keep going up and note the walls that continue all the way to the top – these are likely your load bearing walls.


If you have the blueprints to your home: your life is easy. Open up your blueprints and look for the structure section often indicated by the letter “S”.  The framing plan will help you have a more reliable look and your homes interior plan.  Look for beams, and the direction of floor joists.  If the wall you’d like to remove is not connected to a beam, or running perpendicular to the floor joists in its room: then it’s more than likely not a load bearing wall.

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Need More Help?

Removing the wrong wall in your home can have disastrous results.  Don’t accidentally demolish your home.

When you are looking to remove a wall, contact a craftsmen to take a look first.  Handyman Matters wants to be your local resource for any home improvement projects or questions.  Give us a call today! 866-FIX-MY-HOME.