I am planning to install built-in shelving only as deep as the studs in my wall. There are several things that give me pause that I have questions on. 1) the stud sensor is telling me that the studs are doubled up. I'm wondering if this is a load bearing wall as, 2) the wall has the family room on one side and the guest bath on the other, but above it on the second floor it is an outside wall as there is only a roof over the guest room and bath. 3) There is a vent pipe right down the center of where I want to locate the shelves, if the wall is load bearing how can I re-route this, & 4) if it is load bearing, will I need to build headers in as if I were installing a window?

Thanks, Eric

Update: We have decided that messing with the wall, as it is surely load bearing (based on your answers), is not a great idea. Since we wanted a simple project & not to completely restructure the wall we looked at alternative options. We have decided to makes some floating shelves that will still give us the depth and also hold the decorations.

Thanks for your help! Eric

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    You're replacing a wall between the family room and guest bathroom with a window of shelves? – BMitch Jan 2 '16 at 3:48

The exterior wall above this indicates that it is almost certainly load bearing. To remove the studs in the wall, you'll need to remove the weight with a temporary support that runs to the foundation floor. Then with the weight off you can remove the studs and reroute any wiring and plumbing in the process. You'll need to construct an appropriately sized header for the load it needs to carry, and that will rest on jack studs that need a continuous path all the way to the foundation and footers inside the foundation. The sizing for all of this depends on how much load you're carrying, and for that, you'll need an engineer that can review the floor plans and give the proper advice.

  • Thank you, this is becoming obvious that it is not a small nor simple project. – Eric Jan 3 '16 at 4:38

I would recommend against restructuring the wall unless you are absolutely sure of your ability, or absolutely tied to the idea.

In my own bathroom I have several inset shelves, and they simply stand in between the studs. You can paint the studs, or clad them in a nice hardwood to spruce it up. You wont loose much storage space, unless you are planning to stack long objects on it.

If you want to go ahead and restructure the wall, call a local structural engineer to come in and make a plan. If you plan on getting a permit, this will probably be required anyways. If the studs are doubled up, you could be dealing with a pretty heavy point load, and the structure of your house shouldn't be trifled with.

  • Very good information. I think we will change our approach and look at other options. – Eric Jan 3 '16 at 4:38

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