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Question DetailsAsked on 3/8/2014

I want to remove an existing arch between my kitchen and dining room. How can I tell if it is load bearing?

The archway runs parallel to the floor joists. The house is approximately 27' wide and the archway is approximately 10' wide at the top. The arch and sides appear to be built from old wood paneling that interlocks. There were also dowels that ran from the top of the arch down to where the sides came out from the walls. There was no pressure on the dowels; they were loose fitting and appeared to be decorative in nature.

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A General Contractor or Framing Carpenter should be able to tell you if load bearing, in a normal design house. In a complex framing or modernistic design house, it can sometimes take a structural engineer to figure the load transfer path.

I think Ben's typing fingers took a detour maybe - I think he meant to say load bearing walls typically (though not always) parallel to the LONG walls of the house, and run PERPENDICULAR to the floor joists, not parallel. They also generally run perpendicular to the roof joists or trusses. However, in retrofitted, added-on to, and 4-sided houses (like with full gazebo, pyramid, domed or hip roofs), walls paralleling joists or trusses can also sometimes be load bearing - one has to inspect to see what is bearing on them.

Not at all definitive, but if you knock hard or maybe use a finish nail through the paneling a few places along the length, in the top 10 inches of the arch but NOT the top 3 inches (where there is likely a nailing 2x4 or two regardless of load bearing), if that area is solid then likely a 10-18" structural header is in there. If hollow, it is probably fake. What I would do, if you are not ready to get a contractor in there, is buy a stud finder for $15 or so, and map out on the arch where the studs and support members are. Also under the ends of it. If basically hollow, with nothing more than 2x4 (or 2x6 or 2x8 depending on thickness of arch) studs and top and bottom nailing plates, then likely non-structural. If you hit a consistent solid piece 8 or more inches high at the top or bottom, if you have diagonal framing in it, or the ends are supported by 6 or more inches in width of studs rather than one stud or none, then much more likely to be structural.

Also, if you can see what is over it - if there is nothing above it (say in attic) except maybe one normal joist or truss paralleling it, probably non-structural. If joists cross it perpendicular to it, especially if they terminate on top of it, there is another wall directly on top of it (upstairs), or there is any sort of posts or supports from above coming down to it, then probably structural.

I can't quite place the dowels, but unless about 2 inch or bigger, highly unlikely to serve any structural function.

Depending on that is over it, if not clearly visible in an attic, I consider it about 25% probable that any inspecting engineer or contractor is goingto want to strip one face off it to inspect the structure before committing to it being non-structural.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Quite simply & Typically , a load bearing wall , will run in the same direction as the exterior walls, or , parallel to the floor joists . The loose dowell rods were not supporting any load ,as the load was being held by 2x4 framing inside the wall .

Answered 6 years ago by BentheBuilder

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