02:55PM | 11/10/01
Member Since: 11/09/01
2 lifetime posts
My bathroom doorway is only 26" wide. I would like to expand the opening and install the type of door that slides into the wall.

I have had two contractors look at this for a bid but they give me conflicting information. I don't know if one of them is trying to get more money from me or if the other just doesn't know what he is doing.

How can I tell for sure?


04:46PM | 11/10/01
Member Since: 09/23/01
242 lifetime posts
There are several things you can do.

Find out which way the rafters or joists run in the ceiling, do they cross over the wall or run paralel to it? If they cross over it may be bearing

Take an icepick and shove it in the wall above the door about 3" down from the ceiling, Does it hit anything? if its hollow, there is no header, its not bearing.

Is this on the first floor? Second? Basement?

The other thing you need to consider is if there is any electrial or plumbing in the wall.

Jay J

05:50AM | 11/11/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi 10sc,

The best way is to pay a Structural Engineer to do a load evaluation of your entire property; not just 1 wall. Then, you'll get your $$$'s worth.

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: If you're not sure, you'll have a tough time explaining to the insurance company why the 2nd floor is now on the 1st floor. They won't cover for Negligence ...

PPS: God Bless AMerica!


10:53AM | 11/16/01
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
It is difficult to say over the Internet because home designs differ so widely. Even in the same apartment complex that tends to follow the same designs, one wall in a layout in one apartment might be load-bearing whereas the same wall in a different apartment is not load bearing. Thus, getting advice based on your own design is crucial.

Also, be careful of the advice that even contractors give you. They can and have been wrong. Err on the side of caution. I had three contractors tell me that a partition wall that I wanted to remove was DEFINITELY not load bearing. The size of the room was also "within specs" to handle the load without a supporting beam or wall in the middle. The wall also ran parallel to the ceiling joists, between two joist runs. Everything indicated that it was not load bearing. However, before I tore the wall down, I removed the drywall on the partition wall and the nearby ceiling to discover that, not only was it load-bearing, but it was perhaps the single-most crucial load-bearing spot in the whole room. Everything in the ceiling framing came together onto a single four-2x4 collumn within that wall. That collumn supported a double-ceiling-joist that ran perpendicular to the other ceiling joists, and onto which all the other ceiling joists were braced. They did not run the entire length of the room, but instead only half of it, meeting at that middle double-cross-joist. Without that collumn, the cross-joist would have broken, the other ceiling joists would have thus fallen, and the second and third floors would have collapsed into the first floor. Everything depended on that collumn, which the pros said was unnecessary. So much for professional advice....

A few other pointers. You will need to get an electronic stud-finder to figure out where the rafters/joists/studs are in the wall and the ceiling. Confirm your findings in more than one spot on the wall/ceiling. You can make little, soft pencil marks to remember where they were that you can erase when you are done.

Even with that layout, it is difficult to determine what a stud is or isn't. It could be just a small brace board designed to keep something stable regardless of the load bearing, or it could be that cross-joist I found that supports the whole darn ceiling.

As I found out, looking at the directions of the rafters cannot rule it in or out; it can only shed light on other findings. If the rafters run parallel to the wall, and if the wall stands between two rafter runs, and there is no cross-joist running perpendicular to the other joists (and the wall), then it definitely is not a load bearing wall. However, there will probably be 2x4 or some sort of brace piece nailed perpendicularly between the rafters to brace the wall so it does not wobble, but that brace would not serve at all to carry the load of a load-bearing wall.

You can also loosely infer whether it is a load bearing wall from the nature of the framing inside the wall. Basically, the more framing in the wall, the more likely it is load-bearing. If there are clusters of three or more studs together, then it is probably load bearing. If there is a 2x6 or more header board running along the top edge of the door (to distribute the load for where the door is), then it is also more likely to be load bearing. If there is not, and the space between the walls above the door is more or less empty, then it probably is not load-bearing.

Again, err on the side of caution. Ask the contractor who claims it is a load-bearing wall to tell you why he thinks it is. He should explain what it is about the framing that shows that it is load bearing (a cluster of studs nearby, a door header, joists running perpendicular to the wall, no other load-bearing walls in close proximity....) If it makes sense, then follow his advice and hire him, not the guy who missed the clues.

[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited November 16, 2001).]



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