Terms of the Trade: Bearing vs. Nonbearing Walls

Your house has two kinds of walls -- bearing and nonbearing. It's important to know the difference particularly when considering a remodel. Bearing walls can be both exterior and interior walls that transfer the weight of the roof, floors and walls above them down to the house's foundation. (If these studs are removed they should be replaced by a header that transfer the weight from above across and down the sides of the structure.) Nonbearing walls usually only need to support themselves -- if an interior wall is nonbearing, its purpose is solely to divide up the house's space. When looking at a house's bones, keep this in mind: bearing walls usually run perpendicular to floor and ceiling joists, while (exterior) nonbering walls run parallel to roof trusses and floor joists.