Load bearing walls – Types, identification, and Features

What are load bearing walls and non load bearing walls?

Load Bearing Walls

A load bearing walls is a wall that supports the weight of a floor or a roof above. They support the weight of floor joists or roof trusses that are typically running in the opposite direction above.

These are the walls that are holding the house up and if you take them out, you have to find a way to support the weight that they are holding with something else, often a beam.

Non Load bearing walls

A non load-bearing wall is a wall that separates rooms without supporting any of the load or weight of the roof or floor above it. If you take these walls out, the house will not be affected.

Most walls that run parallel to the floor joist above are rarely bearing weight. The tough part is differentiating between walls that run at a 90-degree angle to the floor joists because some may be bearing and others may not. 

How to tell if a wall is load bearing?

So you have just bought a house, or you’re walking through a house, and you wanna make it open-concept. But can you actually take those walls out? Are they load-bearing or non load-bearing? How do you even know?

By the end of this video, you will know exactly how to tell if a wall is load-bearing or non-load-bearing. We can identify load bearing walls by a different process. So let’s start.

One of the easiest ways to figure out if a wall is load-bearing or non-load-bearing is to look up at the ceiling above and see which way the joist runs. So when we look up a bit, we can see this wall has joists running perpendicular. That means that it’s coming in at 90 degrees. If they’re running parallel, that means that the wall is definitely non-load-bearing.

Now, you might not be able to see. You might drywall up, you might have a ceiling up. You may have something impeding your ability to see the joists above you.

If that’s the case, we can really look at the structure or the dimensions of the house. Like in this one, we are shorter this way than we are this way. Typically, that means that our joists are gonna run the shortest span.

Now another way to tell whether a wall is load-bearing or non-load-bearing is to go outside and look at your roof. Now, if we have a gable roof, which means that you have a peak and your wall goes all the way up, that means your joists run perpendicular to that.

So on a gable roof, we know now which way the roof trusses go, and typically the structural beam will run perpendicular to that. It means that the wall is definitely a load-bearing wall.

Now you know how to figure out if a wall is a load-bearing or non-load-bearing so that you can take out a wall and also have that open-concept house that you always wanted.

Types of load bearing walls and Examples

The wall which bears the load of the structural members like a beam, slab roof, etc, and other elements like dead load and lives load is known as load-bearing walls.

There are different types of load-bearing walls given below,

1) Precast concrete wall

Load bearing walls - Types, identification, and Features, Precast concrete wall
  • Precast wall has superior strength and durable capacity.
  • These types of walls are smooth and attractive in looking.
  • It has the more protecting capacity and is easy to install.

2) Retaining wall

Retaining wall
  • Retaining wall provides lateral support to the land besides the hilly area.
  • It protect from landslide and soil erosion.
  • It is generally constructed with the help of stones and mortar or wire for binding.

3) Masonry wall

Load bearing walls - Types, identification, and Features-Masonry wall
  • The masonry wall is the most durable and strongest type of wall.
  • It is used in construction to control the temperature and humidity of the rooms.
  • These types of walls are constructed with the help of bricks, mortar, etc.
  • It is more prior to resist fire.

4) Prepanalized metal stud walls

Prepanalized metal stud walls
  • It is used for building exterior wall cladding.
  • It is constructed with the help of corrosionless metal like stainless steel, copper, and aluminum.
  • It is also strong enough to bear the seismic load, wind load, etc.

5) Stone wall

Load bearing walls - Types, identification, and Features-Stone wall
  • These types of stones are constructed with the help of stones bound with the help of a wire.
  • It can support lateral as well as the vertical load on it.
  • Stonewall is one of the too strong and durable walls among all of the above.

Features of load bearing walls

  • It carries the load comming fom roof and upper floor of the buildings or structure.
  • Load bearing wall transfer the load comming on it to the foundation like column.
  • Load bearing wall can be used in exterior as well as interior of the building.

Are all exterior walls load bearing?

Most of the exterior walls are load-bearing in nature if there has no used beam and column in the structure. If there is no beam then, the slab at the exterior parts will act as a cantilever slab. So, it makes the slab bear the initial bending moment. If we apply further load on it, then it may collapse.

Moreover, It also depends upon the span of the room. If the span of the room or corridor is less than 1 meter, then it is not necessary to provide a load-bearing wall. Hence, It is not necessary that all exterior walls be load-bearing.

I hope this article on “Load bearing walls” remains helpful for you.

Happy Learning – Civil Concept

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"Structural Engineer" with over 5 years of experience in estimation, structural design, and surveying. I am passionate about using my skills to create safe and sustainable structures. I am also a keen writer, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others.

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