Can You Remove a Load-Bearing Wall?

How to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall

Just say the words "load-bearing wall," and you'll have a good idea of why one is difficult to remove: Your house won't go "Three Little Pigs" and come tumbling down immediately, but incorrectly removing a load-bearing wall can do major damage to the structural integrity of your home. However, there are safe ways to move or remove a load-bearing wall.

The first step in is to remove the drywall and strip the wall down to its skeleton. Since load-bearing walls carry a house's worth of weight, they're usually built from sturdier materials than other types of walls. While non-bearing walls may be framed with wood, bearing walls are usually reinforced with materials like concrete and steel bars [source: Royal Building Solutions].

Now it's time to tear out the insides. Once all of the concrete, bricks and beams are removed, make sure you're ready with some sturdy two-by-fours or steel braces to provide support while you construct a new permanent support point.

Even if you started out with a wall to bear the load of the structure you're working on, you don't have to keep it that way: Plenty of structures other than walls can support the weight of a building. Pillars are a common option; though they're less physically substantial, they can still support the same load as a wall if constructed correctly [source: Mosby Building Arts]. A sturdy beam tucked into a beam cradle -- a pocket in the ceiling of the room along the wall's length -- can also do the job of a full wall [source: The Family Handyman].

So can you remove a load-bearing wall on your own? Technically, sure. However, removing one of the walls that keeps your house up involves quite a bit more planning and expertise than remodeling a bathroom or tearing out the carpet. An expert will ensure that key steps like determining whether the wall is load-bearing and designing an effective beam or pillar in its place are done correctly. Naturally, if you hire a pro, you'll be paying for the service of designing your plans and doing the work in addition to the cost of materials, so it'll run you a little more than if you went the DIY route.

Interested in learning more about how load-bearing walls work? Read up on lots more information on the next page.