We own a Gambrel house built in 1978. I want to remove a six foot wall section that includes a doorway. This wall runs parallel to the floor joists in the basement. The main center beam is about three feet away. Is it structurally sound to remove this short wall?

  • 7
    Do you know if its load bearing? You haven't provided enough information for anyone online to properly determine if it can be safely removed. Your best bet is to consult with a structural engineer.
    – Steven
    Jan 25, 2013 at 14:22
  • 1
    Possible duplicate: Are there ways to determine if a wall is load bearing?
    – BMitch
    Mar 26, 2013 at 18:14
  • maybe a duplicate but those are really bad answers
    – DMoore
    Aug 23, 2013 at 20:18
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    @DMoore: The answer in that question that said "1) Remove the wall, 2) If the house falls down, it was load bearing" sounds pretty definitive. It's more difficult to prove that a wall is not load bearing.
    – Johnny
    Oct 22, 2013 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


If there is a wall directly above the wall in the basement, then don't take it out. Otherwise, cut the drywall from the top of the door. If there is a header above the door opening, then it is most likely load bearing and the wall cannot be removed. If no wall above the wall and no header, you should be okay. Take all the drywall or paneling off the wall and do a good inspection before you knock any studs out. Look for diagonal bracing, heavily nailed plywood, and/or heavy anchorages in the corners which would be an indication of a shear wall, which cannot be removed. If it turns out to be load bearing for just vertical loads, you can always install a longer header to open up the space.

  • 4
    Never forget, especially in newer homes, depending on location, walls that support no vertical load may still be structural walls resisting lateral wind and possibly seismic forces. Absence of walls above and lack of headers is no longer adequate evidence of a non structural wall. If you tear into such a wall and discover heavily nailed plywood and/or heavy anchorages in the corners, you have just screwed up and need to fix it. Even GWB walls with no anchors have been used as shear walls!
    – bcworkz
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:35
  • Also consider that in older homes, stresses may have shifted and walls that weren't originally loadbearing may now be carrying more weight than you'd expect. When opening a passageway in one of my hundred-year-old walls -- even though it was parallel to floor and ceiling joists, not over a foundation wall, and had clearly had a passageway at some point in the past -- my engineer's advice was to bridge the opening with a parallam beam Just In Case.
    – keshlam
    Jul 20, 2014 at 4:59

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