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Will 06-01-2006 09:57 PM

load bearing wall from 1920
I I do odd handyman and carpentry stuff for people, as time allows and so on, and have a fair amount of experience, with a number of diffrerent arreas. however I could still use some clarification on a number of things relating to this job.
The situation is that its a house that the owners say was built in the 1920s. The customer wants a wall (with an open doorway in it) ripped down between the kitchen andx the living room. at first I thought it would be no more4 than tearing off the sheet rock and ripping out a few studs. Boy was I wrong. I realized but looking at the framing of the cieling that the wall is load bearing. I havent opened up the wall yet but I assume its a beam running across with studs or those older 2 or 3 by six members coming down. also its plaster and lath not drywall. Here are some numbered questions.

1. If they dont want the beam to stay exposed, should the following be done: we cut both the beam and its overlapping joists and put blocking ( same dimensional lumber as joists) across cut ends of joists (on either side of wall) and attach them to joists outside of cut out wall area? Any other suggestions for blocking or support of cut joists?

2. is there some maximum span that can be cut out of a beam and still only use bocking (after which youd have to support by a beam placed above ieling level?)

3. in such supporting walls do the studs themselves bear much or any of the weight or can they pretty much just be cut out?

4. would it be adviseable to have some sort of not only blocking but vertical framing on either end of the wall thats been taken out ( ie. supporting doubled 2 x 4 studs or something even stronger) I realize this depends on whether we are going to cut the beam (if they want it invisible) or not. but even if we didnt cut the beam, would there still be some compensation we should try to make for the removed studs?

Thats all I can think of now. Thanks a lot,


Square Eye 06-02-2006 07:56 AM

This subject comes up often and the replies are generally the same.

Do not cut a beam, do not remove supporting members (studs) under the beam, if there is no beam, do not remove any studs. The floor under the wall is bearing the load. There should be a girder under the floor to support the wall. You're going to have problems, possibly catastrophic failure if you start cutting and hacking, patching or scabbing walls, beams or joists. Let someone with enough insurance and an engineer in their pocket take this one.

Previous discussion can be found here;

The beam you talk about may not be enough to support the load without the supporting wall under it. This a situation that can get someone killed.

Don't monkey around with load bearing walls!!!

inspectorD 06-02-2006 08:42 AM

Cheque please....
If you are another contractor to help out with this area so you get an education on bearing walls. It will be cheaper than an engineer. ask around at the lumber yard(not box store).How much would you pay to learn this in a school. It sounds like you are in over your would be the time to recocnize it and turn it into a positive experience, even if it costs more.

Happy hunting.....:eek:

Will 06-02-2006 10:52 AM

Thanks for the replies. You sure Ive got to let this job go? the wall span is only 11 feet and there is a door in it already. its just a kind of a wall that separates the kitchen from the living room. Also I'm wondering if its 100 percent certain that its a load bearing wall. The only way I determined this is that it ran parallel to the beam in the basement and also I opened the platser up a little on the cieling on one side of the wall, and the lath strips were going
in the same direction as the wall thus being perpendicualr to the cieling joist, whicyh in turn must be perpendicualkr to the wall. Is there any possibility that it might not be load bearing? or that even if it is the small section I would open might not be that big a deal? I say 11 feet, but its more like 8 feet from the edge of a cabinet to the edge of the door, so thats the only area that would be opened up.

Square Eye 06-02-2006 01:27 PM

Between two rooms, the joists above run perpendicular to the wall, the wall runs parallel to the girder in the basement, house built in 1920s, My vote;

Load bearing.

If you're only spanning 8 to 10', you may be able to get a header in there and support it adequately. You will have to put up a temporary support beside the wall, 12" or less from the wall. Then the wall can come down and the header can go up. It has to be supported from underneath with short studs commonly referred to as cripples. It is terribly important that you have support under the header. You can NOT just nail the ends into the wall and call it good. At least one stud under each end in a doorway, 2 studs under each end when the opening is more than 6', 3 studs or more when the opening is 10' or more.

BEFORE you do this, determine what EXACTLY the wall is possibly supporting!

It's not uncommon for joists to be spliced over a wall in an older home. If this is the case, then the splice would almost certainly fail over time with out a header or a beam. Open it up and be certain before you take a chance on getting hurt or destroying property.

No person on this forum can recommend this kind of a project to a DIY. There are too many ways to get hurt when a load bearing wall is taken down. I'm not saying that you're not capable or not qualified, I just respond to what I've read and you seem to be asking some questions that make you seem uncertain.

glennjanie 06-02-2006 03:09 PM

There is a movie you need to watch on this subject, then you will see what Square Eye is trying to tell you. The movie is Under the Tuscan Sun.

Will 06-10-2006 03:16 PM

hahaa under the tuscan sun? Sounds interesting. As it turns out I'm not gonna do this job anyway. It was HE who seemed uncertain and I stopped bothering with the negotiations. I've got another cool job on the fire that I'm just about to post about. As to the idea that I'm sort of green - yes and no. I have been doing this for about six years on my own, at certian times on a fulltime basis, other times not. I'm very thorough and I love this kind of work. I make sure that I get more than enough information and feedback relating to any any job since I always feel I can benefit from others' experience and theres no harm in getting opinions anyway. I can do pretty much anything at all carpentry wise and the more new or tricky or demanding it is, the better I like it.The thing with remodeling and renovation work is that its always somewhat different and its always a good idea to do some research. Even if I'd been doing carpentry since I was 5 I might do that. but I've been doing it since I was about 28 or 9 and I'm almost 37 now so I'm not exactly new to this business. Under the tuscan sun, hmmmm. I may just check that out out of curiosity to see how a movie with a title like that could relate to supporting walls. at any rate check out my new post which I'll have up shortly.

ks_tornado_chic 07-18-2006 09:35 AM

We have the same kind of situation in our home. The people we bought the house from removed a divider wall that seems to have supported something in teh home... but we can't figure out what. we will have to re-build it because you can now see in the ceiling where the plaster is crackign and begining to give way. Right in the same area we had to patch the ceiling up with sheetrock from where it fell out.... and doing that to plaster and lathe is a royal pain that can't be felt unless you've had to do it.
Leave it to a pro or tell the clients to leave the wall is my suggestion


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