My house is Colonial rectangle. I have opened up one load-bearing wall that runs about 2/5 of the length between the den and the living room. With help and excellent advise, I put in a 90" header for a 6'8" opening (after putting up temporary braces on both sides to support the joists above). I feel confident about its integrity. Now I want to remove a wall that runs parallel with the joists and is 90 degrees to this wall. From all of my research, I am thinking that it is not a load-bearing wall. The roof is symmetrically consistent with the rectangular design. Being a newbie here - I'm casting a line out for opinions.

House is about 36' long and 25' wide rectangular. The wall is approx 14' with a 6' opening. Hoping to double the opening to 12' with 2' walls on each side. The wall is parallel with 16" centered joists above and below. I have already opened up a detected load-bearing wall with a 6'8" opening between Living Room and Den perpendicular to this wall. I have attached jpg images and a pdf sketch.

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I just saw this when I cut away a spot of the drywall. 2x8 header is above the current opening. Does this indicate load-bearing?

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  • Is the house 2 story? Is this on the first floor? What are the spans and spacing of the parallel joists? What is above the parallel wall? What is below the parallel wall? Is there a basement? Is there a footing or slab for support? Is there plywood or wood on this wall or just gypsum board/ plaster? Is there asbestos? Has the gypsum board/ plaster or insulation been tested? Are the joists below parallel too? Pictures would help?
    – Lee Sam
    Mar 23, 2020 at 1:16
  • How old is the home? Is it just built in the colonial style, or is it really a colonial, as in pretty old?
    – Jack
    Mar 23, 2020 at 2:50
  • 2 story with basement. 16' centered joists. Wall is near center of the house on the main floor. Master bedroom wall above, basement finished bathroom below. 1/2" sheetrock. House built in 1972. Mar 23, 2020 at 17:30
  • From the header you exposed and the position in the house of being near center, tells me that is a bearing wall. Are you sure the joists run parallel to that wall pictured??? Did you check both sides if that side presumably is? FWIW, it is a 2X10 header, quite hefty.
    – Jack
    Mar 23, 2020 at 18:57
  • So sorry I've messed up on the format. I tried to load pictures with comments, but I couldn't find how it worked. The only way I found was by the answer mode. Mar 23, 2020 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


There are exceptions, but typically walls parallel with the joists are non bearing. The exception will be if it is carrying a load from above, transferred down by another wall above it, carrying the roof or corner of a roof, or something like that. Also a point load from above can be brought down through a non-bearing wall.

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    Struc engineer here, every thing Jack said is accurate. + 'normally' the joists and roof rafters or trusses will span the shorter distance. HOWEVER. Gravity is only half the issue. The wall could be a shear wall, part of the lateral design. What's the overall dims on your house?
    – Ack
    Mar 23, 2020 at 2:05
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    36' X 25' rectangular. Mar 23, 2020 at 17:33
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    @Ack I upvoted your answer. Expecially for bringing up the shear wall issue. However, if it was a shear wall, I would expect to see either diagonal strips or plywood in the wall. The picture of the header looks like a case of belt and suspenders to me. There should have been no need for a header over that existing opening. Mar 23, 2020 at 18:37
  • @Robert Cline Thank you and good point, but what happened is that the CO added the pictures after I made my comment. Also, I disagree about the header, I'll respond to that in another comment on this topic
    – Ack
    Mar 23, 2020 at 18:57
  • In my experiences, shear walls are needed in areas with heavy seismic activity or home with a lot of large window and door openings, like modernistic, or contemporary homes. Colonial style houses typically do not need shear walls, unless it is in a heavy occurrence seismic area, and that would be on the outside walls, not an interior wall so I would think.
    – Jack
    Mar 23, 2020 at 19:04

Ok, there is what I think is happening.

First, the answer is no, a header does not automatically mean that it is load bearing, for reasons I won't get into. It does mean that you can't yet rule out load bearing and further investigation is warranted.

Your joists are parallel per your statement. The span is 25'. That span is too much for solid sawn lumber and a center beam would be required. That beam might bear on this header or a post in wall (it can't span 36'). Or your house is newer and using a manufactured joists such as TJI.

Based on the dimensions of your home, it is likely that this is not a shear wall. However, it very well could be.

And you have already removed wall that could also have been part of the lateral system. We can't look at this new wall as an independent completely separate item, it MUST be considered with all the changes to your home.

Much more information is needed to determine this one way or another with either a site visit or by reviewing the original plans.

Hire a local structural engineer for a review.

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