How to Identify a Load-Bearing Wall (and Why It Matters During a Home Renovation)

Written by Terri Williams.

Written by Terri Williams.

To create open-concept floor plans, homeowners are knocking down walls everywhere from the kitchen to the master bathroom.

But before you start swinging a sledgehammer, you'll need to know if you’re dealing with a load-bearing wall, which is significantly different from a partition (or non-load-bearing) wall.

What is a load-bearing wall?

So, what’s the difference between a load-bearing wall and a partition?

“A non-load-bearing wall does not serve a foundational purpose. It is a room divider,” says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a remodeling services franchise business. “Removing a non-load-bearing wall is a much simpler project.”

On the other hand, Sassano says, a load-bearing wall actually serves a structural function.