Interior Load Bearing Wall Removal

What Is The Standard Wall Thickness For A House?

The standard wall thickness for a residential house for 2×4 studs is 4-1/2 inches wide, including a 1/2 inch drywall on both sides. You should use 2×6 studs on walls with plumbing, which will bring the thickness to 6-1/2 inches, including the 1/2 inch drywall on both sides.

If you’re new to interior wall framing, terms such as studs and drywall can be quite confusing.

A non-load-bearing interior wall features the following elements:

A Ceiling Plate:

It is a horizontal plate connecting the wall to the ceiling and the vertical studs. It can be a double top plate if your ceiling is 8 feet above.

A Floor Plate:

It is also a horizontal lumber plate that connects the wall to the floor. It is usually inexpensive wood like hemlock or pine. 

The lower studs on the partition wall rest on the bottom plate.


The drywall is a panel featuring calcium sulfate dihydrate that packs the sides of interior walls. It also features ceilings.

It is also called wallboard and is used as a finishing material. Drywall comes in 3/8, 1/2, and 5/8 inch thickness.

You can paint over drywall and sand it for a smooth facade. It is also more stable than plaster, meaning you do not have to keep reapplying.


Studs are pre-cut 2×4 lumber to frame the interior and exterior walls. They cover every part of your construction, from interior walls to windows, doors, and outer walls.


6. Panel Wall

Panel wall is generally made of wood and is an exterior non-load bearing wall in framed construction. It is used for aesthetics of the buildings both inside and outside. It remains totally supported at each storey but subjected to lateral loads.

How to identify a load-bearing wall?

If you want to identify load-bearing walls in your home, the following may help:

  • Usually, exterior walls are load bearing and if there is any new addition involved, where some exterior walls look like interior walls, they are almost certainly still load-bearing.
  • In a house with an unfinished basement or one where the walls are easily accessible, finding the beams (this is most likely to be a metal I-beam or a multi-board wood beam) can indicate where the weight of the house is resting. Walls directly above such beams and walls above such walls, are likely to be load-bearing.
  • A load-bearing wall will often be at a right angle to the floor joists. A wall that appears to be holding up an intersection of joists at any point, is likely a load-bearing wall, as well.

See also: Advantages of home inspections for buyers and sellers

How Do You Measure The Thickness Of A House Wall?

1. Measuring The Exterior Wall

You can measure your external walls by measuring the casings of the exterior door or window.

When measuring outer walls, remember to include the exterior wall sheathing. It is considered part of the wall.

Other sections make up part of the wall. These include

  • The exterior finish
  • The insulation
  • The exterior wall sheathing
  • Wall studs
  • The drywall on the internal side of the wall
  • The floor joist 
  • The sill plate 

These parts make up the cross-section of the exterior wall. However, professionals only include the exterior wall sheathing when taking wall measurements as part of the wall.

2. Measuring The Interior Wall

To measure an interior wall, you can opt to measure the thickness of the blocks (or alternative material) you will use on the wall. This is applicable if you leave the brick or stone blocks raw and uncovered.

In partitions featuring glass or wood, it can be as simple as measuring the width of the door jamb if it spans the width of the drywall on both sides of the wall and the door frame.

How Wide of an Opening Can You Have on a Load Bearing Wall?

  • An opening you can have on a Load Bearing Wall should be six feet or less. This creates a carrying point 1.5 inches wide.
  • Any open space more than six feet should have at least 2×4 no of beams under each edge of the floor.
  • We cannot have wide openings on any load-bearing wall as it is not well supported. Proper support varies depending on the weight of the load, the base under which it is supported, and the materials used to support it.
  • While constructing a building, one must need a civil engineer to inspect it and design that support.

Also, Read: Tributary Area | Tributary Area Examples | Tributary Width | Tributary Load | Tributary Area in Columns | Overview of Tributary Area

3. Cavity Walls

It is a wall constructed in 2 leaves / skins with a space / cavity between them. A type of building wall construction consisting of an outer wall fastened to inner wall separated by an air space. Cavity walls helps to prevent the penetration of rain to the   internal surface of the wall.

Is an Exterior Wall Load-Bearing?

Exterior walls are walls that form the perimeter, or outer footprint, of a house. Exterior walls are almost always load-bearing. Where there are windows and doors, the walls include beams, or headers, spanning across the tops of the openings. Posts on either side of the openings support the beams. 

A house will rarely have an entire stretch of an exterior wall that is non-load-bearing. It is possible to build a house this way, but it would come at a high financial cost since I-beams or large laminated structural beams need to be used.

Often, homes that appear to have no supporting exterior walls still do have support in the form of steel or wooden columns interspersed between the windows. Because window glass and the exterior view take visual precedence, it is easy to miss the fact that substantially sized columns are in place.

© by Martin Deja / Getty Images

Is There a Support Structure Below the Wall?

If the wall is on the first floor of the house, and there is a basement or crawlspace below, you can check in the lower level to see if there is another wall or other supporting member (piers, beams, columns, jack posts, etc.) directly below and following the same path as the wall above.

If there is no support structure below the wall, the wall might be non-load-bearing. If the wall is, in fact, load-bearing and there is no support structure, this portion of the house is in danger of collapse.

Double_Vision / Getty Images


You should consult with a building professional, such as a carpenter, architect, or structural engineer, to confirm that a wall is load-bearing or non-load-bearing. In most municipalities, a permit will be required before removing a load-bearing wall.

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