Load Bearing Walls

Question Icon
Posted by: from Strathmore
6/13/2012 at 3:40:07 PM

What is the maximum allowable distance between load bearing walls and the outside walls?

User Icon
Date/Time6/13/2012 at 4:22:34 PM

That all depends on what's above, 1 storey, 2 storey, 3 storey house...the usual is 10 feet with a good header.

User Icon
Cassidy Residential Design in Gloucester
Date/Time6/13/2012 at 5:22:55 PM

The maximum distance between a load bearing wall and the outside wall (which is also a load bearing wall) will be determined by the load is needs to carry and what the maximum depth and centers of supporting joists you wand to use.

For example if you use 12" deep joists @ 12" on center then the distance between walls can be greater that using 7" joists @ 16" on center and so on.

Frank Cassidy IMAATO

OMMAH Registered Designer

Cassidy Residential Design

phone: (613) 834 1857

fax: (613) 834 4597

User Icon
Date/Time6/13/2012 at 9:15:48 PM

It can vary depending on the load that the walls have to carry plus the design of the wall and joist.

User Icon
Paul from Paul's Contracting in Barrie
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 8:02:50 AM

Hi Jason,

I understand people attempt to remove load walls on their own for various reasons, but something like this really warrants a professional. There are so many things to consider when doing this to ensure you and your home aren't placed at risk.

Spans depend on several variables (joist size, spacing, direction, are they engineered joists, point load transfer points, LVL beams or built up or steel I beams,...). Point loads need to be transferred to a footing large enough to carry the load above. There are limits to where you can place the new point load onto the beam below. Perhaps the basement floor needs to be cut out, excavated to form and pour a new footing for a jack post below to support a point load that falls in the middle of that beam from above? What size jack post is suitable? Footing size depends on the load above, and the makeup of the earth it is on. How will you support the load above while you are removing the load wall and working on putting in the header / beam? What directions, size, and spacing are the joist above and below? So many considerations...Are there utilities in the wall now that need to be relocated (Plumbing, electrical, HVAC)?

The cost to have an engineer complete a site inspection is about $500-$700 or so. They can tell you what you need to do for your project and then you'll have the confidence it is built right and is safe. Ensure whoever does the work for you is insured and workers are WSIB. If something happens, you want to have recourse.

Hope this helps!

User Icon
Paul from Paul's Contracting in Barrie
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 8:13:24 AM

...I see I may have read between the lines to far, and perhaps you're not removing a load wall. The issues are similar though.

Good luck with your project!

User Icon
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 10:21:54 AM

The allowed distance between a load bearing wall and the outside wall or opposite load bearing wall. Depends on the size of your floor joist and wheatear its first or second floor.

User Icon
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 10:24:19 AM

Depends on the size of floor joist the thicker the joist the longer the span.

User Icon
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 1:12:07 PM

Hi Jason,

This is vary depending on how much loads needs to be carried by these bearing walls as well as how big the joist is (depth)!


Mike Messiha, P. Eng.

T: 905-593-0909

F: 289-805-4120

C: 416-822-2249

Toll Free: 1-866-210-7145

User Icon
Jason in Strathmore
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 2:19:12 PM

Thanks for all the replies.

Reason why I asked is because I am looking into building an addition on the side of my house. The side I will be adding to is the walk out basement side of my bungalow. The addition is to include an attached garage (approx. 26Dx32W) with a bonus room above (to be the living room). The existing structure of the house is all 2x6 wall construction and a pressure treated basement.

I was wondering what the wall spacing would have to be for the upper level and what type and size of joists I would need above the garage to support the weight of the bonus room without having to divide the garage. The wall construction of the addition will be 2x6 also of course.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.