Is My Wall Load Bearing? | Checkatrade
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Is my wall load bearing?

Whether you’re hoping to reconfigure your home’s layout or you’re keen to enjoy some open-plan living, there’s only one thing standing in your way: that pesky internal wall!

But before you tear a wall down, it’s vital that you understand whether it’s load-bearing. If you remove any part of a load-bearing wall, you must replace it with alternative structural support – like a beam or columns – so that your home doesn’t become structurally compromised.

How do I know if my wall is load-bearing?

The short answer is that you won’t know for sure. At least, not without calling in a structural engineer.

There are lots of signs that a wall could be load-bearing, but none of them are infallible. In fact, even walls that weren’t originally designed to be load-bearing can in time be left holding up more than they bargained for – for instance, if woodworm disintegrates parts of an old beam.

That said, if you want to get a good indication of whether your wall is load-bearing, there are a number of things you can look out for.

Is my internal wall load-bearing?

Here are some of the signs that an internal wall is load-bearing:

  • It’s perpendicular to the joists. Usually, if a wall runs parallel to the floor joists above, it won’t be load-bearing. Meanwhile, if it runs at a 90-degree angle to the joists, there’s a good chance that it is. Just bear in mind that this won’t always be the case!
  • It runs all the way through your home. If a wall runs straight through your home from front to rear or side to side, it’s probably load-bearing.
  • It has a wall directly above it. If you have a wall in the same place on both your ground floor and your first floor, it’s probably load-bearing. It could also be supporting the roof so you should be very careful.
  • It’s lined with OSB (oriented strand boards). OSB is often used to strengthen structures, so if you find it lining your wall, there’s a higher chance it’s load-bearing.
  • It has a foundation. Most load-bearing walls will have a foundation beneath them. If you have a basement or crawl space, check it to see if there’s another wall or support (such as beams, columns, piers or jack posts) directly under the wall in question – this will indicate that it’s probably load-bearing.

Is my stairwell load-bearing?

Stairs themselves can’t be load-bearing. However, the walls surrounding your stairwell and your stairs can be.

To work out whether or not these walls are load-bearing, you can check them for the signs we listed above. However, the best way to check is to get your house inspected by a professional.

How to identify a load-bearing wall

If you want to be sure whether or not a wall is load-bearing, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

A structural engineer will be able to confirm whether or not your wall is load-bearing. If it is, they’ll also be able to help you remove it by putting another support in place. That way, you can be sure your building remains structurally sound.

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