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3 Ways to Identify a Load Bearing Wall

One of the most common issues when it comes to home remodeling is how to identify a lead bearing wall.

Maybe you want to open up a kitchen area, create an open concept floor plan in your home, or remodel a basement. Each of these projects will likely require the removal of one or more walls. And tearing down one that’s critical to the structure to your home can cause costly problems.

So how do you know which ones are load bearing and which aren’t? Here are 3 tips:

1. Check if you can see the ceiling framing

If the framing in the ceiling of your home is obvious and exposed, and there are beams that extend across to walls that are posted down into the structure of your home, chances are those walls are load bearing.

Conversely, if posts, other walls, or other types of supports are not located directly above the wall in question, it’s likely that it is not load bearing.

2. Check the ridge line of your home

You can see the ridge of your home by checking it from the outside. The National Roofing Contractors Association defines the ridge as the “highest point on a roof, represented by a horizontal line where two roof areas intersect, running the length of the area.” Basically, it’s the highest spot on your home.

Hubbard Addition

Almost always, interior load bearing walls will run parallel to the ridge. If it goes north to south, it’s a good bet that walls inside your home that run the same direction are load-bearing. So if you’re trying to identify a load bearing wall inside your home, one way is to go and look at the ridge outside.

3. If it’s tied to an addition, try to identify any exterior walls

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that most exterior walls are load bearing. Exterior walls that aren’t load-bearing are rare and costly. So if your home has had an addition or two put onto it over the years and you’re thinking of removing a related wall, there’s a good chance it will be bearing some of the structural load.

You may be able to see beams or other supports extending from the wall. But even if you can’t, it’s likely the wall was built with some form of support included between windows or doors.

Video: Learn more about how to identify a lead bearing wall