How To: Identify a Bearing Wall

Because the wrong decision can jeopardize the structural integrity of your home, knowing how to identify a load-bearing wall is critically important.

By Bob Vila | Updated Feb 7, 2018 1:13 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.


There are two kinds of walls: bearing walls and non-bearing walls. You can do anything you like to a non-bearing wall. But if you remove or even cut open a bearing wall, you can literally bring down the house. Check the joists or rafters in your basement or attic. If they run perpendicular to the wall in question, it’s almost certainly a bearing wall. If they run parallel, it’s probably not.

For more on walls, consider:

Rough Construction: Framing a New House
Bob Vila Radio: Load-Bearing Walls
Three Ways to Find a Wall Stud (Without Fancy Equipment)