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In the second picture the blue line shows the top plate for the half wall with spindles and the red highlights a beam of 2x12's.

I'm not sure if it is clear but the half wall ends at a 2x6 that has been added to beam.

Would it be safe to remove the spindles altogether?

If I need support can it be done from above?

enter image description here

framing

  • what is supporting the red beam? is it the blue wall? – Jasen Sep 5 at 13:35
  • No the blue half wall ends before the beam. The beam rests on other walls but there's clearly a couple of 2x4's above the blue half wall. – mac_33 Sep 5 at 13:39
  • We need a picture of the spindles. If it is what I think they are, they are not structural, if all you wish to do is remove them. – Jack Sep 5 at 15:10
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    A photo of the entire room may also be beneficial here. – cxd213 Sep 8 at 17:04
  • The picture of the attic, with your description about the "but there's clearly a couple of 2X4's above the blue half wall" does not draw a complete picture. I see not 2X4s anywhere above the blue line, only what may be 2X6 ceiling joists. I also see a 2X laying flat.... doing what ever....not over the blue line wall either....The joists look like they do not depend on the wall in question for support, and according to your mention that the beam does not either. FWIW, spindles like you have in your picture are never used as bearing for anything in house construction. – Jack Sep 9 at 4:56
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It's difficult to see exactly how this is framed, but...The 2x framing directly below your blue line appears to be the top plate of the wall with spindles in it. That wall appears to be supporting attic/ceiling framing members. The perpendicular members (2x6?) appear to be bearing on the spindle wall, and not spanning over. That leads me to believe that the spindles cannot be removed, without some means of reinforcing.

With some additional information you might be able to tell how best to make it work. You might be able to replace the spindle wall with a beam in the attic space, spanning from the 2x12 beam to the next load bearing wall at the other end of the spindle wall. You could possibly use joist hangers to frame the perpendicular 2x6 members into the face of the new beam. All of this would need to be designed for the appropriate loads. That is just conceptually how I would approach it. But it really is necessary to get a better view of the framing. Too much is concealed by insulation, to make a confident judgement.

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  • why write an answer without being confident? – DMoore Sep 10 at 17:56
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    I'm confident based on the assumptions I've made which are required given the level of information provided. In engineering that's often the best we can do, until demolition is underway. I'm confident in my conservative assumption that it cannot be removed. I am not confident on the proposed solution to allow the removal of the spindles. – Inquisitor Sep 10 at 17:59
  • It could also be that the perpendicular members span without bearing load, and the top plate of the spindles is not load baring but backing support for the drywall boxed above the spindles. – P2000 Sep 10 at 19:06
  • It could be, but I don't see what else is supporting the end of those perpendicular members. If they aren't continuing over and fastened into another carrying member (beam or wall), then they must be supported on the spindle wall. I would not expect that spindle wall to be load bearing, but from what I can see in the attic it appears to be supporting more that it's own weight. – Inquisitor Sep 10 at 19:11
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    You may be right. They may have just wanted to open up the wall but realized it was load bearing and needed something in between. Not a great solution structurally. I'm guessing the spindles are either lag screwed into the plate of the lower portion of the wall or toe-nailed. – Inquisitor Sep 10 at 21:03
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In my experience spindles such as that have never been used in load-bearing situations by legitimate builders. Doing so would create two hinge points along the wall's height, which would be plain dangerous.

Given that fact, the arrangement and location of the wall, and the attic situation, I'm reasonably confident that the wall isn't structural.

Should you make decisions based on that? Nope. Get someone on site.

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    I agree I have never seen spindles used on a LB wall... but just because something is LB doesn't mean it needs to be. Meaning this could be cross load and actually supporting something but specs for the house don't call for it - which to me seems like the answer given the large wall right next to it. – DMoore Sep 10 at 19:13
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    "Honey I have a great idea" Maybe it was a reno or after-thought (predating the OP) to open the staircase, and replace a LB wall. – P2000 Sep 10 at 19:48

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