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Question DetailsAsked on 10/5/2011

How can I tell if a wall is load bearing? I want to expand an existing open wall by removing a kitchen wall cabinet and opening it further

I want to expand an existing open wall between kitching and dining room by removing a kitchen wall cabinet and opening it further.

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2 Answers


It helps if you can see the framing; either the floor framing from the basement or crawlspace below and the attic framing if it is a single story. If the wall is running parallel and the same direction as the floor and ceiling framing, it is most likely not load bearing.

If the wall is running perpendicular to the framing, it may still not be load bearing. Being able to see if there are lapps or single joists that stop at or just past the wall is a good indication it is carrying the load.

Without seeing the framing members, there may still be ways to find out, before you do any destructive investigations. If the crawl space or basement has a beam or columns that run parallel and align or are near the wall would indicate that some loads are being transfered down. You also might have an HVAC vent, acces panel, etc. you can remove to see the joist directions.

Since in your case there is an existing opening, you can investigate what is supporting that opening currently. If there is a header or beam over the existing opening, it will be supported by the wall you wish to remove. You can add a column, or replace this header with a larger system to support your span opening. If there is no header currentlly and no column (could be several 2x wood together, a pipe column, a 4x4, etc) then the wall is probably not carrying any load.

Since you are dealing with a kitchen, also make sure you do not have any plumbing stacks in this wall you want to open. Finding these after you have started the demolition will increase your budget significantly and delay your project. Good luck!

Answered 9 years ago by Kenny Johnson


Depending upon where you live you may need a structural engineer or an architect in order to get the permit required by the city for your project. These professionals will sign off on your changes and assume some liability but more importantly they will give your contractor any needed direction, drawings, etc. to ensure your project it completely safely and properly.

Answered 8 years ago by HMDhome

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