I have an old beam in my barn/garage. The building has a second story, so it is the main support for the center of the building. I want to remove this beam because its very old, and replace it with a supporting wall.

How do I do this?

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  • You do not have to remove the beam to build a wall under it. I suspect If you remove the beam you will need an engineer to design a wall appropriate for the load. I would replace the posts.
    – Alaska Man
    Jul 14 '20 at 2:21
  • 1
    What about the wall would need to be designed? Wouldn't it just be a 2x6 wall with studs every 16 inches? Jul 14 '20 at 2:43
  • The beam may be old, but it looks fine from here... it's that post which looks like it's been gnawed on which I'd be more worried about.
    – brhans
    Jul 14 '20 at 3:07
  • Why do you think an old beam is a bad beam? Plenty of 150 year old buildings are still sound. Is there obvious degradation of the wood? You're right that a standard 2x6 wall is adequate (unless you have extraordinarily large loading, such as from a high hay loft).
    – isherwood
    Jul 14 '20 at 15:21

I wouldn’t remove the posts. The posts have footings that support the loads from the beam.

If you remove the posts and build a wall, you’ll need to install a footing under the new wall.

I’d just build a non-structural infill wall under the beam.

  • Agreeing with other comments, I'd strongly consider replacing the posts, but not the beam. The drawback to that, though, is that those posts are probably pretty solid old-growth timber and replacing them with modern fast-grown timbers may not net the same strength.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 14 '20 at 16:48
  • @FreeMan It’s a “short” post (8’ or less) and compression in end grain is about 4 times that of side grain, so I think new growth is comparable to old growth.
    – Lee Sam
    Jul 14 '20 at 18:30

Because the beam transfers load to the posts, and because the posts presumably have point-load footings under them, you'll need to replace the beam even if you build a wall.

Therefore, replace the beam (and the posts, if you like), but a wall is pointless unless you want to divide the space.

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