We are ready to take the wall down. This was our first time removing a load bearing wall. So we are taking it one step at a time. These are the tips and tricks we learned along the way.
You CAN Do It Yourself. We proved this fact by removing a load bearing wall that was 18 feet long.
Seek the advice of an expert. While I’m pretty good with research and math, which are both required to determine the structural and code requirements for this task.
I was able to find an span tables and a useful online calculator to help determined the appropriate size of the laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beam we would need to support our attic and roof.
A great deal of information is required to make this determination: bean span (size of opening created by removing wall), roof load (either live or dead load – In our case it was a dead load since it was attic space and the roof, you will need to calculate the weight with and without snow – in SC this was not an issue), span carried (length of floor joist or distance from eve to eve supported by the beam). Once you have this information the online calculators will determine the size of LVL beam required.
We wanted more assurance, so we sought the advice of an expert to confirm our determination. This can be expensive. Our solution – the engineer at 84 Lumber plugged our information into his computer, generated a drawing and the determined the beam requirements free if we purchased the LVL beam from 84 Lumber. We had the LVL beam delivered, there was no way for us to get it home in the back of a pickup truck. We were strutting like roasters – we had the calculations right! This assurance is worth many nights of sleep – use an expert!
Build temporary support walls. Before removing any part of a load-bearing wall’s framing, you must build a temporary support wall on both sides of the load-bearing wall.
Once you have removed the dry wall from your existing wall and ceiling you will need to remove any electrical outlets and relocate or terminate your wiring. Now build two temporary walls that will support your structure so you can remove the load bearing wall.
The wall must come out before you can install the LVL beam. We wanted our beam above the ceiling, you will see some installed below the ceiling creating an exposed beam in your room. Not the look we were after. While this is easier, it still creates a barrier the doesn’t produce the open span we were after. The temporary walls are installed on either side of the support wall, give yourself room to work since you need to be able to remove the support wall studs at this point.
Establish beam support structures for both ends. In our case, one end was adequate since it was a header for a doorway. The other end however, had to be strengthened by adding additional 2X4s. This was also determined by the engineering drawing. Our structure required four 2X4s for the beam’s resting point.
Provide adequate space to install the LVL beam. Your LVL beam will be much wider than the existing wall frame and this space will have to be enlarged to accommodate the beam. You will need to cut an opening in your ceiling joists to accommodate the LVL beam. Once you open the space, simply lift the beam into our attic space. This is a two man job, LVL beams are very heavy. This was a task that we enlisted my son Donnie’s help. It was certainly more weight than I could handle.
Build a few 2X4 supports to help hold the LVL beam in place while you are installing the joist hangers to the beam and existing ceiling joists. Be sure to use a level to ensure your beam and ceiling will be level as work to install the hangers and beam into place.
Remove your temporary walls and your open space is achieved. Don’t forget to stand back and admire your hard work.