Determine the bearing wall of your home

Aarti Tripathi Aarti Tripathi
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Load bearing walls are extremely crucial for providing stability to a structure and bearing the weight of the construction. Not only in case of double or multistories buildings, even in single storied houses the roof which bears a lot of weight is supported by the load bearing walls. Usually the exterior walls of a structure are partially load bearing and the engineers strategically design load bearing walls in the interior to provide the due support for the construction. To identity a load bearing wall becomes an important task especially when a remodelling task is in schedule. It must be kept in mind that houses which have gone through renovation or has been changed in layout by adding or eliminating rooms, can be a hard to decipher the bearing wall, so before picking up a sledgehammer, it always better to consult an architect or engineer to understand and locate the load bearing walls in the house. However there are few tips and tricks which can be utilised to determine these walls.

Bearing Brick Walls

In most cases buildings having load bearing walls are made with materials like concrete or bricks. The key idea of using bearing brick walls is that it acts as a load carrying element. With such massive weight of the walls, it indirectly helps to stabilize the structure and help it be firmer and stronger against external forces like earthquakes or heavy winds.

Location

To determine the position of the bearing wall it is important to locate the structural walls. The structural walls are those which hold the entire weight of the house from roof through the floors straight to the foundation. Since the weight of the floors are transmitted from one level to the other, most of the load bearing walls are structured one above another. Since the exterior walls are in most cases load bearing,  and if there is an addition involved the present interior wall was previously serving as an exterior wall and is certainly load bearing. However if a wall has no direct wall post or other support directly above it then it most cases it is not a load bearing wall.

​Thickness

  by Frigerio Design Group
Frigerio Design Group

Tessiture di Nosate e San Giorgio

Frigerio Design Group

Thickness of the walls is another crucial factor in deciding the load bearing walls. A basic idea is the thicker the walls the greater the possibility of it being a load bearing wall. In usual cases a wall is designed with four and an half inch thickness unless it is dry wall of 5/8”. However this is a calculation given for the interior walls since mostly a four and a half inch wall is not used for an exterior which are usually load bearing. So search for those walls which are thicker, broader and comprise of a height more than seven feet. These walls can be denoted as load bearing.

Slabs and Beams

Searching for the beams are also a productive way of locating the load bearing wall.  These are thick and sturdy pieces made out of wood or metal and they work towards transferring the load to the foundation. In most cases beams are placed in such a way that they stretch from one floor to another.  If a beam is found to span through a wall and above it, then that particular wall is a load bearing wall. However it may also be taken into count that beams in most houses are designed behind the drywall which can only be figured by experts.

Bearing walls in the Multi-story houses

In most cases modern multi storied houses are built more with structural frames and prefer less use of load bearing walls to support the structure. However in case of a multi-storeyed building it is important to search the point where the beam meets the ceiling. One can find long support bars across the ceiling also named as floor joists which actually have the support function of the floor above. And if these floor joists meet any wall then that wall is a load bearing one.

Bearing Walls in “Stalinka” houses

eclectic Houses by Wildblood Macdonald
Wildblood Macdonald

Residential Development, West Yorkshire

Wildblood Macdonald

Stalinkas are massive buildings built with dry clay tiles or bricks,  they came into prominence around 30-50 years ago. These apartments are still in demand a lot and many still prefer to stay in these houses. So if a remodelling is required in these houses, one needs to identify the load bearing walls. The typical structure of a Stalinka includes load bearing exterior walls and interiors with a considerable longitude. The widths of these walls are 30 cm and they have a distinctive difference from the partition walls of the rooms which consist of width less than 20cm. However the structural designs differ a lot and that is why in these old masonary buildings it is best to fetch a professional help to identify the structure of the building.

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