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Adding a beam to a load bearing wall to open up kitchen

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Today I am showing how we are adding a beam to a load bearing wall at the Foxboro Split level house. If you missed the post where we opened up the kitchen wall into the dining and living room, you can see that here (plus see before pictures)! Adding a support beam to any wall that you are removing is important to the integrity and structure of the house. A support beam that his hidden (in the attic) is the best scenario if possible. 

Just a side note before we get started:

Identifying and removing a load bearing wall is for a licensed professional contractor and not a DIY homeowner project. Hire a professional (if you are local to central Massachusetts you can hire Jim!) and check with your local building department for permit requirements. 

How to add a support beam to a load bearing wall  

Adding an LVL architectural beam is how you support a load bearing wall if you want to remove such wall. 

How to Add An LVL Support Beam

Here is a picture of the kitchen before we took down the load bearing wall support beam between the kitchen and living room.

What is a Load Bearing Wall?

The load bearing wall below is the wall between the kitchen, dining room and living room. A load bearing wall is what supports the weight above the wall. You do not want to remove a load bearing wall without replacing it with a load bearing support beam. You will risk your roof caving in if you do! Be sure to check with your local building department for permit information prior to work.

1970s split level house kitchen wall with dining room and living room

Here is a picture of the side hutch wall most of the facing wall removed.

adding a LVL beam to a load bearing wall split level house kitchen

As you can see above, we left the 2×4 framed wall which is a load bearing wall as a temporary measure until we got the new LVL support beams installed. 

Here is a picture of the ceiling after we removed the load bearing wall (the wall that separates the kitchen from the dining and living room) and removed the ceiling in order to create a cathedral ceiling. Installing a load bearing beam up in the ceiling is what allowed us to open up the space and remove the walls. 

LVL load bearing beam, open ceiling with strapping, cathedral kitchen, living room

You can see the two LVL beams above the strapping pieces directly below the roof. 

How do you install a support beam 

Here are the details about how to remove a load bearing wall and how we installed the load bearing support beam. 

Getting the support beam into the house was a challenge as it was 20 feet long and very heavy they pulled it in through the window. 

How to remove a load bearing wall? Very carefully! ha. 

All kidding aside, this is not a DIY project, not only do you need to hire a professional contractor but you need to do your research and make sure they are licensed and have experience removing a load bearing wall. 

man pulling LVL beam through a window

Once the support beam was in the house, they used support braces to assist in keeping the beam in place.

adding a LVL beam to a load bearing wall split level house kitchen

How much does a load bearing beam cost?

We added two support beams that were fastened together with lag bolts.

The two LVL beams were approximately $285 each which Jim picked up at our local lumber yard. 

adding a LVL beam to a load bearing wall split level house kitchen

The support beam is fastened to support posts at each end of the house that continue down to the foundation.

LVLsupport beam for load bearing wall attached to support brace in ceiling

The two LVL support beams up top are fastened together with lag bolts.

LVL support beam on support post at peak of roof

Overall Cost of adding a beam to a load bearing wall

When adding a support beam to a load bearing wall, you will need a design plan from a licensed engineer with calculations to submit to the town for their records. This type of project will most likely require a permit from your town. Be sure to check your town building requirements. If you are hiring a licensed contractor, they should know all of the town requirements. 

Open cathedral ceiling with LVL support beam

The architect/engineer drawing up your plans will measure the existing house conditions and calculate the load requirements for the beam in order to size the LVLs required. The engineer will use a load bearing beam calculator to determine your materials needed.

Keep in mind, the cost of the LVL support beam materials will not be your only cost.

You will need to hire a licensed general contractor (in addition to the architect) to install them. It’s not an easy task and requires an expert. Having your house not be properly supported in layman’s terms is, bad! You don’t want your roof to sag or worse, fall in! 

Once the support beams were installed, they removed the temporary wall frame and bracing.

The strapping (the long skinny pieces of wood running along the ceiling) are to attach the white planks that we have coming. 

Yes!! The ceiling will not be sheetrock, it will be country style white planks! 

cathedral ceiling with strapping

The next step is to do the electrical wiring and insulate. 

LVL load bearing beam, open ceiling with strapping, cathedral kitchen, living room

Updated 2022: Want to see all the split level house projects in this house? Click the links below.

You can see them all here by clicking each link –> (1) Split Level House Tour (before), (2) opening a load bearing wall between kitchen and living room , (3) Adding a beam to a load bearing wall , (3A) Installing modern black windows (4) Installing shiplap on vaulted ceiling , (4A) Increase front entrance with wider front door, (5) Quality Wolf kitchen cabinet review and installation, (6) Why we love the vinyl plank flooring basement makeover, (7) why we picked prehung solid core interior doors by Masonite, (8) Split level exterior remodel before and after , (9) Split Level Kitchen Remodel before and after, (10) Split level exterior makeover (11) 5×8 bathroom renovation and cost

The slider above will be removed and the opening will shift about 3 feet to the left, allowing for more counter space in the kitchen. 

As you can see, adding a beam to a load bearing wall can be a little tricky and needs to be installed by a professional.

Be sure to check out last weeks post to see the kitchen load bearing wall before we tore it down. The 1970’s kitchen was pretty scary! 

Disclosure: Identifying and removing a load bearing wall is for a licensed professional and not a DIY homeowner project. Hire a professional and check with your local building department for permit requirements. 

 

About The Author

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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