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Can I Remove a Structural Post in My House?

Structural posts serve an important role in maintaining the integrity of your home, but they can also get in the way. For many homeowners, structural posts make it difficult to use their space the way they want. As a result, many wonder if it’s possible to remove a post from their house.

As one of the Portland Metro Area’s leading remodelers, people often ask our team at Lamont Bros. Design & Construction about removing a structural post from their home. While this can be a great way to open up the floor plan in part of your home, there are several factors to consider before you decide to remove a post from your house.

In this article, we’ll discuss how and why you might decide to remove a post from your home. You can use the information found here to decide whether or not removing a structural post is best for your home remodel. The topics we’ll cover include:

What Is a Structural Post and What Does it Do?

In simple terms, structural posts are the vertical load-bearing elements of a house that help distribute weight evenly, ensuring that your home stays upright, stable, and secure. 

Posts provide vertical support to the horizontal beams, which typically span the width of the home. However, these beams have limited spanning capacity

Spanning capacity refers to the maximum distance or length that the beam can effectively support without sagging or failing under the applied load. It is a measure of the beam’s ability to span an open space or gap and carry the weight of the structure above it, such as floors, walls, and the roof.

By placing them along the length of a beam, structural posts reduce the continuous spanning distance of a beam by breaking it up into smaller spans. This reduces the spanning load on the beam. 

An average size home will have rows of 2-4 posts to direct the weight from the beams down to the foundation. This provides even weight distribution and structural stability to the home. 

Why Should I Remove a Structural Post in My Home?

Removing a structural post in your house is a technically challenging task that requires extensive planning and engineering. However, under some circumstances, it can be well worth it to remove a post. Here are a few common reasons why homeowners choose to remove a structural post from their home. 

You Plan to Finish Your Basement

When considering finishing a basement, many homeowners find that the placement and number of posts can present significant design challenges.

One of the primary motivations for removing a structural post is to maximize the usable space and increase design flexibility. Structural posts can often disrupt the layout and limit the possibilities for designing a basement that meets the homeowner’s needs. 

By strategically removing one or several load-bearing posts, the basement area can provide an unobstructed space for designing various living areas, such as a family room, home theater, or recreational zone. 

You Want a More Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans have become increasingly popular in modern home design because they offer a sense of spaciousness and promote better flow and interaction between different areas of the house. 

Structural posts often act as barriers, obstructing foot traffic and sightlines. When designing an open floor plan, one of the key motivations for removing a structural post is to enhance the feeling of openness and connectivity between the living, dining, and kitchen areas. 

By eliminating an intermediary post, homeowners can enjoy a more open and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for entertaining guests and fostering a stronger sense of togetherness among family members.

A Post in Your Garage Makes Parking Difficult

Structural posts also commonly cause issues in garage spaces. They often take up valuable space within the garage, reducing the available area for parking vehicles. 

Depending on the garage’s layout and the number of posts, drivers may have to carefully navigate around these obstacles. This can make it challenging to park larger vehicles, open car doors, or fit multiple cars comfortably.

Some homeowners may choose to remove a post from the garage to make parking more convenient and be able to use the space more freely for other activities, as well. 

How Do You Remove a Structural Post From Your Home?

The process to remove a structural post in your home is best left to professionals. If you want to remove a post, you’ll need input from a professional designer and engineer to ensure that the space remains safe and usable. Here are the factors you must consider when removing a structural post. 

1. Determine Whether the Post is Structural

Before you spend thousands of dollars on design and engineering, the first step in removing a post is determining whether it is structural. 

Most of the time, a vertical post in a house is a structural post and requires engineering to remove it. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, a post is simply decorative or serves a purpose other than structural. Non-structural posts are commonly used for build-in shelving, hanging a clothesline, or achieving a specific visual aesthetic. 

You can usually tell if a post is structural if it attaches to a beam or sits on top of a foundation footing. Either of these are strong indicators that the post is structural. If a post is not aligned with other posts in the home or does not attach to a structural beam, it may be a non-structural post.

2. Consider The Spanning Capacity of the Overhead Beam

Whenever you remove a structural post, the most important factor you’ll need to consider is how it will affect the spanning capacity of the overhead beam. 

In rare cases where the beam maintains an acceptable spanning capacity without the post in question, you can simply remove the post without reinforcing the beam. However, in most cases, you’ll need to replace the beam with something stronger.

Structural beams are normally made of treated lumber, which has a relatively low spanning capacity. When you remove a post, the beam that spans the new length of open space should be upgraded to a stronger material. Steel, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), or glulam are all excellent options for replacement beams.

3. Address Any Issues with the Foundation Footing

When removing a structural post, you’ll also need to consider what lies underneath it. Structural posts usually connect to a concrete foundation footing, which helps to spread the weight of the post evenly into the earth. While not as complex as addressing the beam’s spanning capacity, there are a few issues to consider with the footing.

The first potential challenge you may run into deals with whether or not the footing sits above the foundation floor.  When removing a post to create more space in your basement, you may also have to remove any of the footings that extrude from the floor. This will require concrete cutting and/or grinding.

The second issue with footings deals more directly with structural challenges. When you remove one post, it places additional weight on the footings that still have posts attached. The posts adjacent to the one being removed will be most directly affected by this factor. It’s essential to examine whether or not those adjacent footings are able to support additional weight. Failure to do so could result in the foundation becoming uneven, which can weaken the structure.

In cases where you plan to remove multiple posts and install a new beam with a significantly larger span, the footings underneath the ends of the new beam may need to be entirely replaced to provide them with enough strength to handle all the extra weight.

Want To Learn More About The Remodeling Process?

Now that you know what it takes to remove a structural post in your house, do you feel ready to start exploring the process for your next remodeling project? A home remodel can be a daunting process if you don’t know where to begin. To learn how to have a great remodeling experience, download our free guide, 6 Steps to a Successful Remodel.

Ready to embark on your remodeling journey? If so, don’t go at it alone! Click the link below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our professional design team. We’ll guide you through the remodeling process and help you turn your current home into your dream home.