20 Jun Mr. Homeowner. Tear Down That Wall!
We’ve all been there. You have fantastic plans to open up your home to make it more airy and spacious. You excitedly call your contractor and explain what you want, only to have your hopes dashed as you hear, “Sorry, we can’t do that. There is a ‘Bearing Wall’ that can’t be moved.”
Those two words have been the bain of almost every homeowner since time began. They have struck fear in the hearts of every would be do-it-yourselfer and been the cause of plenty of upset dreams. But why? First we should define the term “Bearing Wall”.
What Is A Bearing Wall, Anyway?
The term “Bearing Wall” refers to any wall in your home that is supporting or “Bearing” the majority of the weight caused by the roof trusses that hold up your shingles. (See example to the left). In our example, A is the roof trusses. Notice how B (Bearing Wall) runs perpendicular to the roof trusses. This wall is structurally engineered to support the weight of the combined trusses, roof underlayment, and shingles. The size of the boards and spacing must be in line with the structural engineers requirements to handle the roof weight. Now look at C. Non bearing wall. Notice that because the wall runs parallel with the roof trusses, it is not bearing the full weight of all the trusses and is considered a nonessential wall.
A bearing wall can also be in a basement where it would serve the purpose of bearing up the floor joists of the level above it. Without bearing walls, your home would look like a sagging loaf of bread. Therefore, removing a bearing wall to open up a living space can be a potential nightmare, not to mention extremely dangerous.
For this reason, most contractors shy away from disturbing these walls when doing major home remodeling. While it is true that removing bearing walls can be a structural problem, modern building techniques have overcome this obstacle. By using pillars, Glue Laminated Beams, and LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), you can open up your living spaces and also provide an elegant look that will be the envy of your neighbors. Let’s look closely at some of these modern support alternatives.
Glue Lam Beams – The Heavy Hitter
What Are My Other Support Options?
LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber)
Laminated Veneer Lumber is similar to Glue Lam Beams but also differ in a few important ways. The typical GLB is constructed of layers of hardwood, which account for their extremely high load bearing qualities. LVL beams on the other hand are constructed from soft wood and while they can still bear a significant amount of weight, are not as robust as the GLB. That being said, cost wise they can be more affordable and just as effective, especially if the span you are trying to bear up is only 6 to 8 feet in length.
Steel Post Pillars – An Attractive Option
Just because a metal pillar is supporting a bearing section of your home does not mean it has to look like a warehouse. With today’s modern construction materials, that unsightly column can become a focal point of your home, adding beauty and a unique open feel. When you think outside the box, you can create amazing design alternatives to that boring bearing wall. Below are some examples.
So, What’s The Bottom Line?
The bottom line is this; creating an open and spacious floorplan doesn’t have to be a nightmare. The options discussed above are both affordable and practical. All you need is a licensed contractor who knows what they are doing. Where most homeowners run into trouble is when they trust their brother-in-law to do the job because the rate is cheap. Don’t get me wrong, if your family member is a licensed contractor then it’s probably a pretty safe bet they’ll do a good job for you. The key is in making sure whoever does your remodel has experience and can back that up with a license and bonding that will ensure you are protected.
So the takeaway from all of this is that you no longer have to settle for a limited floor plan just because of a bearing wall. Sierra Home Services can discuss all the amazing possibilities with you and help you to make an informed decision. Knowing the facts can save you more than just money. Taking the time to find the right contractor for the job will yield a living space that you will love and be happy with for years to come. If you have questions, or need advice, we are always available to answer your questions. You can Contact Us via our website, or call us directly on your mobile phone, tablet or other device. Just click the number below.