What Is A Load-Bearing Wall?

Wooden load-bearing wall with six support beams

If you are thinking about renovating your house, you could be thinking about removing a wall or two. It is important to identify a load-bearing wall before you begin your project. At Honest Renovations, we have lots of experience with load-bearing walls, and will explain what a load-bearing wall is, what it does, tips on how you can identify one, and more in this post!

What Are Load-Bearing Walls?

First, a load-bearing wall (also known as a bearing wall) is a wall that is critical to the structural support of the rest of your house. They help transfer the wall load, bearing the weight from the roof, through the walls, and down to the foundation of your house.

Load-bearing walls will exist on every floor of your house, often right on top of one another. This is because loads (the weight) are transferred from one level to another, meaning that the framing posts holding up your room on the top floor are redistributing the weight down to the first floor and foundation of your house.

Removing a load-bearing wall can cause serious structural issues to your home both in the short and long term. To ensure that you do not remove a load-bearing wall, it is important to know how to identify which wall is load-bearing and which is not.

The Structure of Load-Bearing Walls

If you remove a piece of the ceiling or, even better, look at the blueprints to your building, you should be able to see the layout of your walls and floor joists. This provides crucial information to determine what are bearing walls.

When the wall runs parallel to the floor joists above (they run the same way), the load is typically not load-bearing. If the wall runs perpendicular to the floor joists (meaning they run the opposite way), the wall is likely load-bearing and is redistributing the weight from above it.

Another way to tell is by looking at the floor joists. Typically, if the floor joists do not span entirely across the wall, it may be load-bearing. This is not a certain determinant in whether walls are bearing the weight of your house or not. It is best to consult a structural engineer to determine what walls are load-bearing.

Exterior Walls

Exterior walls are the outermost walls of a building. Typically, exterior walls are load-bearing because they support the roof of your house. Think of it this way – what are the first walls that are built during construction? Exterior walls’ posts are always built into the foundation of your home to support the roof that is constructed on top.

While some outer walls may not be completely load-bearing, parts of them are still used to support the structural integrity of your house.

How To Tell If A Wall Is Load Bearing

Confined masonry. Load-bearing clay block wall confined at the corners with reinforced concrete tie-columns.

If you have an interior design or renovation project that you would like to take on, there is a chance you are wondering how to know if a wall is a load-bearing wall or not. Unless you are familiar with home construction and structures, it is a good idea to contact a professional builder or structural engineer. They can easily help you determine which are load-bearing walls and which are not.

Open Your Wall To Inspect The Trusses

A great way to figure out if a wall is load-bearing is to remove the drywall so you can see the wood beams. This may not be possible for everyone, but if you are renovating several rooms in your home.

When the wall is open, you can look at the beams ceiling/floor joists above it are perpendicular to the walls. If the joists are parallel to the wall, then it is non-load bearing and the wall could be removed.

Take a Trip To Your Attic

You can figure out the structure of your walls without needing to tear up your ceiling! If you have an attic, you can easily figure out what point of your wall is structurally important.

Your attic will allow you to look at every beam in your ceiling. This is important because a beam can tell a lot about each wall. If a beam has braces from the rafters of your attic, this is a tell-tale sign that the wall would be holding the weight of your building.

Go Underneath Your Home

You can identify a structurally important wall through your unfinished basement just as you would a ceiling. Visit your basement or crawlspace to inspect your floor’s joists without needing to rip it up. You can see if there is a wall or other supporting infrastructure (beam, column, jack posts, etc) that are directly below and following the wall above.

Just like load-bearing walls, a beam or jack post is bearing wall load sent from your roof to your floor.

Before Opening Up Your Space, Call A Professional

Load-bearing walls play an important role in ensuring that your home is structurally sound, but they can be difficult to point out in your home. If you want to determine if a wall is holding the weight of your home, it may be best to hire a structural engineer’s services. This is especially true if you want to remove a load bearing wall.

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How to Repair Screw Holes in Drywall

Female home contractor drilling screw holes in drywall

Whether you have moved into a new home or are renovating your current house, you may notice that there are holes in the drywall. A drywall hole can be caused by hanging a picture, shelf or another wall hanging using nails or screws and wall anchors. Drywall screws can also cause holes that should be covered. Even a small hole can be an eyesore and make your wall vulnerable to cracks, dents or further damage. Honest Renovations can guide you through all of the steps you need to follow to patch drywall holes quickly and easily.

What You Will Need:

  • Putty knife or 4-inch drywall knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Paper towels
  • Joint compound / Drywall patching compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Wall paint

Filling Holes Caused By Drywall Screws

a man with a screwdriver in his hand fastens drywall to the wall

1: Inspect The Area

The first step in a drywall patch is to assess the area and plan your next steps. Small holes caused by a nail, push-pin or screw are relatively easy to repair. Large screw holes in drywall left by drywall screws take longer to fix but will look just like new after everything is done.

2: Cut Any Loose Face Paper

If you notice that there is a fraying happening around the screw holes, that is the face paper of your drywall that has frayed or ripped. No new compound can be spread over this area because the paper will rip further and settle into the compound. This will cause your wall to look uneven, even after you have taken the time to fix it.

Carefully trim the paper’s edges with a utility knife. If there are tears from inside the wall, use a screwdriver or nail to push them back into the holes in the wall. This will work for any difficult-to-cut pieces. If you are filling a small nail hole and don’t see any tearing, skip to the next step.

3: Fill The Drywall Knife With Joint Compound

Next, dip the edge of the putty knife into the joint compound (also called mud). The compound will be thick and look almost like putty. There should be a small amount of mud on the edge of the knife; it’ll be just enough to patch the hole but not enough to leave a thick layer on the wall’s surface. If you fear that you have too much on your knife, get a paper towel or cloth and use it to wipe away any extras.

repairman works with plasterboard, plastering dry-stone wall, home improvement

4: Apply 1-2 Coats and Let It Dry

After you have prepared your knife, it is time to fill the hole! Using the putty knife, hold it at an angle to the wall and with the compound side facing the wall. Press the front edge of the knife to the wall and slowly drag it across the hole. You will smooth the patching compound across the hole and patch it. Make sure not to get the mud on any nearby wood or other larger areas because it can crack and dry.

After, check that the spackle has filled the hole, then do a second pass with the knife at a different angle. Continue to do this until the hole is filled, then let the first coat dry for at least one hour before going back to apply a second coat. It is important to note that 2-inch or larger holes in drywall will typically need at least one layer of compound to patch it correctly. Remember to let each layer dry thoroughly, then continue to fill it with mud.

5: Sand

After the mud is dry, use a piece of sandpaper to sand the wall. Sanding will help fix any uneven spots on the wall’s surface and ensure that it is smooth. We recommend that you use a 220 grit piece of sandpaper because it will finely sand down the mud.

6: Paint

After sanding the area, dust it off and apply a coat of paint. If you didn’t just install drywall and were fixing a preexisting wall, make sure that your new coat of paint will match the old one.