What is a bearing wall?
A bearing wall, also called a load-bearing wall or structural wall, bears the weight of the house from top to bottom. This wall helps disperse the building’s weight from the roof down to the foundation, and its removal could cause the structure to collapse.
Bearing walls help support the weight of the whole structure.
Any wall that sits on a foundation is a load-bearing wall, as are many walls in the center of the structure and all exterior walls. Some load-bearing walls also have posts or columns at the bottom to help support all of the weight they’re carrying.
Load-bearing walls are typically right on top of each other, so if there’s one on the second floor there’s likely one on the first floor right underneath it. This is because load-bearing walls help move the weight down the building and must be on top of each other to do this effectively.
It is possible to remove a load-bearing wall without damaging the structure by replacing it with either another wall or a beam that can also support the building’s weight, such a load-bearing column.
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Bearing wall example
Cat is renovating her home and wants to remove a wall between the kitchen and the living room to create an open floor plan. However, this wall is located in the center of the home, it’s likely a bearing wall, so she asks a structural engineer to determine if it’s a bearing wall. He determines that it is, so Cat’s construction team will need to brace it first so that it doesn’t collapse. The construction team adds a beam in place of the wall to continue supporting the house’s structure.