Remove One Wall and Join Two Rooms
Hanging the ceiling joists from an engineered beam is the fast, simple way to replace a bearing wall.
Synopsis: In this article, veteran contractor Mike Guertin replaces a bearing wall with a beam that supports the ceiling joists from above. Unlike other methods, there’s no need to build temporary support walls during construction, so the process is faster. A detailed drawing demonstrates the load paths present after the remodel. Photo: Andy Engel
Many of my remodeling clients want to remove a wall to create a more open floor plan by integrating the kitchen into the living and entertaining part of their home. A nonbearing wall is a cinch to remove. However, if the wall is bearing, which means that it carries ceiling or floor loads from above, removing it requires replacing it with a properly sized beam. The conventional approach is to remove part or all of the bearing wall and to support the framing with a header that sits below the ceiling plane. In this case, the owner wanted a clear, unbroken ceiling, so the beam had to be hidden above.
There are two ways of installing a hidden ceiling beam. One is to use a flush beam, where the ceiling joists are cut and the bottom of the beam is set flush with the bottoms of the joists. The joists are then attached to the beam with hardware. This can be a good choice, particularly when there are ducts above the joists that would be hard to relocate.
Alternatively, an attic beam can be installed above the joists, which hang from the beam with framing hardware. The attic-beam installation is much simpler than the flush-beam option. There is no need to cut joists, and there are no temporary support walls to build. A real benefit of this approach is that it’s only when the beam is fully installed that the existing bearing wall is removed.…