A supporting wall is just as it sounds, a wall that supports the roof and/or upper floors of your home. As you may have guessed, supporting walls are extremely important to your home’s structural integrity. However, a supporting wall’s code requirements vary from state to state. In fact, code for supporting walls depends a lot on snow load or lack thereof.
For example, in Florida you would be void of snow and would therefore have less strict codes on supporting walls. In New Hampshire snow loads can reach thousands of pounds of pressure upon the roof and therefore supporting wall codes are very strict. Regardless of where it is you live a supporting wall is supporting something. Therefore, whether in Florida or New Hampshire you need to pay close attention to your supporting walls to avoid a DIY mishap of epic proportions. Let’s take a closer look.
To find out if you are about to remove or alter a supporting wall you must look at several important factors. Is your home a manufactured home, for example. In a home such as this, as well as in homes with additions on them, you are going to find what is called a marrying wall between the two halves of the house or the house and the addition. A marrying wall is the singular most important form of supporting walls as it supports the roof and/or second floor load on two halves of the home. How do you find your marrying wall? In a manufactured home it will be dead center in the house. For an addition it should be where the addition meets the original house. You will know you have the marrying wall when you see that the doorways and other openings in this area are double thickness of a regular opening. See my included picture of a marrying wall. Also keep in mind that a home can have more then one marrying wall depending on the size of the modular and/or the number of additions on the home. I myself have two and am about to add a third.
The next kind of supporting wall isn’t as visible to the naked eye. This kind is only accessible by doing some exploratory surgery in the ceiling cavity. To do this use a drywall saw to chop a good one foot by one foot hole in the ceiling’s sheetrock beside the wall in question. Now look up inside the hole with a flashlight. Are the supporting joists of the roof or floor above going parallel to the top of the wall in question or are they going across the top of the wall in question? If they are going across the top of the wall then you have a supporting wall on your hands and must take extreme care in removing the wall safely. Make sure you are using the right tools for this process. This will help you do the task easeri and more convenient. You can visit website like www.impactdriverguide.co.uk/makita-impact-drivers for more information. Let’s now look at how to remove a supporting wall.
In order to remove a supporting wall you must build a dead man or two, depending on the length of the wall. A dead man is a piece of lumber with another piece of lumber nailed to the top in a T shape. The top of the T goes against the ceiling while the base of the T gets wedged, with a sledgehammer, to the floor. That is why you need to build your dead man exactly to the height of the ceiling for a good tight fit. Once in place the dead men will hold the weight of the roof and/or floor above while you remove the supporting wall. You can also build a temporary wall a few feet away from the supporting wall for an effective temporary support.
Once your wall is down you will need to build side supports, called legs, and a top support, called a header, in order to carry the weight of the floor above. Do this by screwing several 2×6 s together to form a beam or purchase a beam at your local lumber yard. For the legs you will need them to be as high as the ceiling minus the width of the header. Bolt your legs to the walls on either end of your new opening. Now grab a batch of friends to help you hoist the header up onto the legs. You can bolt the header into place but it is not necessary. If you have done the proper measurements and have a tight fit to the ceiling, the weight of the floor and/or roof above will push down on the header, keeping it firmly in place.
Now I know that this article was fairly quick and to the point. Not a good thing when dealing with such an important subject. Therefore, if you get stuck or have any questions whatsoever, feel free to drop me a line with your contact information and I will lend you a hand.