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How to Spot a Load-Bearing Wall in Your Home

How to spot a load bearing wall

In today’s world of open floor plans, we often get called in for home remodeling consultations where the homeowners have big plans of clearing out walls and allowing more natural light into the home.

If you own a home that was built more than 20 years ago, you’re likely to have a closed off floor plan with distinct room divisions. That was fine in a day when families were closer and often spent time together in smaller rooms. However, as the average home size has increased and as society has changed, people tend to want more open space spread out.

This is no more evident than in the development of the great room. Typically great rooms include a large kitchen that flows naturally into a large living room with no walls to separate. If you’re building a new home with a great room included, your architect and builder will have no trouble designing it without a large intrusive wall.

However, if you’re trying to retrofit an open floor plan into an older home, you’re likely to run into one BIG problem — the load-bearing wall. A load-bearing wall is defined just like it sounds — a wall that was built to hold the weight of the structure above it.

Because most walls look alike on the surface, spotting a load-bearing wall can sometimes be difficult.  Any professional contractor should be able to tell you where your load-bearing walls are in your home. But if you’re just trying to make some rough plans for a future home remodel, it’s useful to know what kind of work might be involved in the eventual project. Here are some tips for spotting load-bearing walls in your home:

Head to the basement

Draw an imaginary path up through the basement ceiling along foundational walls. Any and all walls that sit directly or indirectly on your foundation are load-bearing walls.

Study each floor’s joists

Joists are defined as any length of wood or steel supporting part of the structure of a building, typically arranged in parallel series to support a floor or ceiling. Walls that are perpendicular to the direction of the floor joists are load bearing.

Check for pillars and posts

If your home has any kind of decorative or structural post or pillar, its corresponding wall is likely load-bearing.

Call a professional

If you’re still not sure which of your home’s walls are load-bearing, call in a professional like Naperville contractor Carmody Construction. Our team of remodeling experts can quickly assess your home’s load-bearing walls and recommend a course of action to help you make the most of your space.

Just because a wall is load-bearing doesn’t necessarily mean your dreams of an open floor plan have to die. There are many alternatives to a full wall that can still provide the structural support your home needs.

At Carmody Construction we have over 75 years of experience helping homeowners complete the remodeling jobs of their dreams.  Contact us today for a free consultation and to get started on your next home remodeling project.


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Great experience with Carmody Construction. They helped me rehab my new home in Ottawa. They replaced the full roof and siding, and put in a beautiful patio door. From start to finish, the work and materials were quality and the salesmen couldn’t have been more helpful and transparent with pricing and work timeline. I would highly recommend this company.

- Dennis L.

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