I have a diagonal brace running across an interior wall in the basement, and it even goes partially into the floor concrete. Is this meant to be permanent, or was it supposed to be removed during construction?

I want to finish the basement and put drywall there, but this obviously gets in the way. What are my options for dealing with it?

(Click images for larger views.)
Top of the brace Bottom of the brace goes into floor

Nail locations. 3 nails into the beam at the top, 2 elsewhere:

Nail locations

  • 15
    Leaving that there for the concrete pour shows a somewhat distressing lack of attention to detail on the part of the contractor. You might consider looking around to see what other surprises they've left behind. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 21:58
  • 1
    Is the bottom plate submerged in the slab?
    – DJohnM
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 4:47
  • 8
    @Egor Wood should never touch concrete. Embedding a 2x4 in a concrete slab is ridiculous. Concrete gets wet, moisture goes into the wood, wood rots.
    – isanae
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 6:32
  • 2
    Can you git blame that brace? What does the commit message say? Do you have a unit test for that staircase and beam above? In all seriousness, that brace certainly is not transferring load to the floor but it might be dampening oscillations when someone traverses those stairs.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 7:13
  • 3
    @isanae Never say never. Pressure-treated wood can touch concrete.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:01

3 Answers 3


That wall is load bearing; it is helping to support the stairs and that landing.

As such, it can be subjected to significant load (think two 250 lb guys, plus heavy furniture, for starters).

More importantly, it is subject to lateral impulses from people and things going up and down the stairs so it should have lateral/diagonal bracing to help stop "rhombusing".

Such bracing will give the stairs a solider feel and also reduce cracking/popping in the sheetrock.

There are a variety of metal bracing products you can use, but it would probably be sufficient, in this case, to nail 5/8's plywood to the backside of those studs (in addition to the sheetrock on the front side.

I'd also use some steel L-straps on the other 2 landing supports (if there's not already something there).

  • You forgot about the stringers. In order for the landing to move, it would have to come uncoupled from the stringers. Likewise, there’s no diagonal brace in the opposite direction for those stringers/landing.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 14:06
  • If a sheet of drywall is glued to those studs, I think it would provide substantially more lateral bracing than a single nailed-in 2x4 ever could. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 14:12
  • @LeeSam, the stringers do provide some lateral bracing but not enough. An easy rule is to look for closed triangles of support. There is no such triangle formed with the top stringers and the landing. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:48
  • 1
    @Egor, it can move (and that beam can move relative to the basement floor, over time). Not enough to be a safety hazard, but enough to contribute to creaks, cracks, and a "springy" feel -- especially as the house gets older. I would discard that 2x4 and untreated wood in contact with cement is a time-bomb of rot and/or infestation. Use the plywood and the drywall. That will give much better stability than a 2x4, and be less intrusive. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 18:49
  • 1
    Thanks! Sounds good. I found blueprints for the house and it says the bottom plate around the stairs is PWF lumber. It does look a little different on closer inspection, has a bit of that greenish pressure-treated tint.
    – Egor
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 18:59

Yes, you can remove the brace because:

  1. The wall is non-load bearing (not carrying a load)
  2. The diagonal brace is not secured in a manner to transfer any load at the top or bottom
  3. The diagonal brace is not secured to top plate
  4. The diagonal brace is not secured significantly to vertical stud...the picture cuts off a portion of the brace that crosses the stud so I’d verify that
  5. The diagonal brace is singular
  • Does "singular" mean that it only attaches to one stud? If so, it's not singular. It's attached to the thick load-bearing beam at the top with 3 nails, 2 studs with 2 nails each, and the bottom plate with 2 nails (visible in second picture)
    – Egor
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:17
  • 1
    I agree with all of the points you mentioned but would you be able to elaborate as to why a brace would have been used like this at all? I cannot identify its original purpose.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:27
  • 3
    @MonkeyZeus Often when framing is formed on the ground (slab) and then stood up in place, a temporary diagonal brace will be installed to keep the studs plumb, especially until the gypsum board can be installed.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:35
  • 1
    @Egor The additional picture shows no special fasteners (bolts, plates, etc.) holding the sole plate to the slab. Therefore, I’m even more sure the diagonal is temporary.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:39
  • 7
    @Egor - This answer is, in my opinion as a structural engineer, wrong. See Brock Adam's answer
    – AndyT
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 13:39

It is/was a temporary brace, it is safe to remove it.

10-10-2020 EDIT

During the fabrication of the wall, or before the floor system was added overhead the brace was added to stabilize that small wall section, perhaps before the beam was added. The beam in the picture, typically goes from foundation wall to foundation wall, although there can be many exceptions. Still, this hold true... the floor system is now in, that in itself is a huge brace with al the plywood set to the joists that are tied to the beam. Even if the beam that is over the wall in question was not tied into either wall, the floor alone would not allow the beam to move, and therefore the wall in question to rack.

If there is a concern for this non-bearing wall to move or shift or whatever.... and it is a non bearing wall because of the beam over it and a steel post beside the wall to support the beam..., albeit short, the diagonal of the stair carriage WILL hold the center of the studs sable if the carpenter who set the stairs did his job and fastened them to the framing the way he should. The landing does the rest.

As a mention, the concrete floor has a leveling layer of concrete over it. Not only the end of the diagonal in in the floor, the plate it is nailed to is in the floor as well, by about 3/4".

  • 10
    what could possibly go wrong...
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 14:44
  • 7
    @Jeffrey: if that brace is mission-critical, then that house is going to fall down any moment for dozens of other reasons. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 17:37
  • 6
    @whatsisname agreed. But, my point was about the answer's format. A simple "it is safe to remove it" doesn't quite cut it, because, to the uninitiated, the same answer could be given without the justifying reasons explained.
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 18:50
  • 8
    How do you know it's temporary? How do you know it's safe to remove it? Without explanation, your answer has no more value than somebody posting "OMG don't touch it! It'll bring the house down!" How would the asker know which of those two contradictory answers was right? Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 23:25
  • I see Lee Sam did it right.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 6:40

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