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Old 09-11-2012, 04:22 PM   #1
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


What it the best way to determine if a wall is a load bearing wall?

I would like to remove a wall (turn it into a archway) to expand the kitchen. The wall is not that big, maybe ten feet long. I would need to remove three studs. Before I plan anything I need to find out if its a load bearing wall.

There is no wall above or below it if that helps, so I'm guessing its not load bearing, but of course that's why I'm here, to make sure first

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Old 09-11-2012, 04:53 PM   #2
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


What's above it, is there an attic, second story? Are they trusses or stick build rafters.
Is there a double top plate or a single?

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:03 PM   #3
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


Even if there's nothing above the wall, it doesn't mean to say that it is non-loadbearing.
Some internal walls are designed to brace extrnal walls against forces such as wind-and seismic loads (these are known as shear walls). Whether or not it is a shear wall can usually only be determind by removing the plasterboard to see what bracing (if any) was provided.
Ultimately, the safest route is to speak with a SE before taking it out. May cost a little but would give you peace of mind.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:17 PM   #4
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
What's above it
Directly above it is the floor for the bedroom upstairs. It used to be an attic but was converted into a bedroom.

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Are they trusses or stick build rafters.
Downstairs where all the joists are there are two joists under it. The main steel beam runs in the other direction in another part of the basement.

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Is there a double top plate or a single?
Not sure what this is.... Give me time to find out and I'll let you know which it has.
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:23 PM   #5
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


If an arch is being built add a header in the wall as if it is load bearing and build the arch underneath the newly installed header. I usually build a wall as if it is load bearing with an adequate header at all openings. temporary bracing may be required while you demo for the new header...
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:42 PM   #6
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by hand drive View Post
If an arch is being built add a header in the wall as if it is load bearing and build the arch underneath the newly installed header.

Would using a 4X4 be overkill for the header? I thought that all wall openings/archways needed a header? I was thinking of doing something similar to this, without the studs on top. Would that work (I'm only removing around 4 studs from the wall).

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Old 09-11-2012, 11:02 PM   #7
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


Putting a header in can't hurt, but not all openings need headers. If it is not a load bearing wall it does not need a header.
You'll probablky need more than a 4x4 for the header.
And 2 2x_ are better then a 4x_
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:36 PM   #8
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by mae-ling View Post
And 2 2x_ are better then a 4x_
Oh wow, I didn't know that. I thought it was the other way around (that a 4X4 would be stronger). Thanks for letting me know. I'll use two 2X4's instead
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:56 PM   #9
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


Sorry I was not clear. @ 2x4's may not be strong enough either. Really need someone on site to look at it
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:42 AM   #10
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


2 pieces of 2x material is stronger than a single 4x because you get different, and presumably opposing, grain patterns in the two pieces of wood. This makes it presumably stronger.

That and I always sandwich a piece of plywood between my two 2x material, which adds yet another dimension of strength to the header.

I always put a header in, even if the wall isn't load bearing. If your wall truly isn't load bearing, then I'd use sandwiched 2x6 with ply. If it turns out to be load bearing, and assuming 16"oc, then you are looking at at least 2x8, maybe 2x10 depending on exact size and grade of wood. Check your header span tables.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:03 AM   #11
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by AngelArs View Post

Would using a 4X4 be overkill for the header? I thought that all wall openings/archways needed a header? I was thinking of doing something similar to this, without the studs on top. Would that work (I'm only removing around 4 studs from the wall).

2- 2x10 with sandwiched plywood between is standard header size. If the opening is greater than 4' but less than 6' jump up to 2x12 southern yellow pine for the header. you will have to know ahead of time if the wall is load bearing because you will have to support the load with temp supports while adding in the new header so... once you find that out you can decide on the upsized header or just a 2x6 header, do not go smaller than sandwiched 2x6 for any header longer than 3'.

depending on how high your ceilings are butt the header up to the underside of the top wall plate and then build your arch system below that down to desired height... I think 6.5' up from the floor is about as low as you want the arch to start at the edges of the opening, 7' is even better.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:06 PM   #12
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


Rule of Thumb in determining load bearing wall: "If you don't know, it's load bearing"

a few questions:

do you have a basement or crawl space? can you view the first floor joists? do they run front to rear, or are they parallel with the front wall of the house?

the wall in question that you want to frame the opening in, is it parallel with the front wall of the house, or does it run front to rear in direction?
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:28 PM   #13
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by GBrackins View Post
do you have a basement or crawl space?
It's a basement.

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can you view the first floor joists?
Yes.

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do they run front to rear, or are they parallel with the front wall of the house?
They run front to rear. A huge metal I-beam toward the front of the house runs parallel to the front wall of the house. There are double joist downstairs under this wall if that makes any difference.

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the wall in question that you want to frame the opening in, is it parallel with the front wall of the house, or does it run front to rear in direction?
Front to rear.

Below is a diagram I made for you guys so that you could better understand how the house is laid out (it is not to scale). Windows left out but I can add them in if it matters. The dotted lines are where I need to cut into the wall for the archway.



Last edited by AngelArs; 09-12-2012 at 02:44 PM. Reason: Added Diagram
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:51 PM   #14
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


a few more questions,

are there any columns under the double joist in the basement?

are there any other beams in the basement running parallel with the front of the house?

what is the length of the joists from the steel beam to the rear of the house? size of joists?
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:12 PM   #15
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Load Bearing Walls - How To Determine?


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Originally Posted by GBrackins View Post
are there any columns under the double joist in the basement?
No columns in the basement at all.

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are there any other beams in the basement running parallel with the front of the house?
Beams, no. The only things running parallel with the front of the house is the metal I-beam, a cement wall that is around the middle of the basement, and the rear cement wall which used to be the edge of the house (rear). I can take a picture of the center cement wall of you need. The same wall is made out of plasterboard where the stairs start. Where the floor in the basement starts that's when the cement wall starts.

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what is the length of the joists from the steel beam to the rear of the house? size of joists?
All of the joists are around 29 feet long. They are 7 inches by 1 1/2 inches.

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