Can I remove the interior walls under a roof truss?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Yes, you can. Residentiall roof trusses are designed to bear only on the exterior walls at each end of the span. But there are five possible exceptions to look out for:

1) When the home has an L or T shape, there may be an interior bearing wall under the intersection of the perpendicular rows of trusses. But, even in that situation, there is usually a doubled or tripled-up truss at the intersection, instead of an interior bearing wall, that provides bearing along the bottom chord where the perpendicular trusses meet.

2) Truss chords have been removed. This is sometimes done by a homeowner to provide cleared space in the attic for storage, but destroys the structural integrity of the truss.

3) Only part of the roof framing may be trusses and the rest is rafters, as in the photo below. There may still not be any interior bearing walls, but you should check carefully.

4) What looks like trusses is actually rafters and purlins. Purlins and kickers are braces perpendicular to rafters at approximately the center of the rafter. The kickers resemble truss chords, but they bear on an interior wall below and are usually not at every rafter.

5) The trusses have plywood gusset plates. Some older homes have trusses that were made at the homesite using plywood gusset plates, like in the photo below. A gusset plate is the connector piece between the parts of a truss, and manufactured trusses use metal ones. Trusses with plywood gusset plates are usually older, often not designed by a professional engineer, with undersized plates and inadequate nailing—like in the photo below. These trusses are rarely seen nowadays. We do not recommend removing walls under them.

    And, of course, when in doubt consult a construction professional before proceeding with removal of any interior walls. Also, remember that there  will be electrical wiring, and possible plumbing, to deal with as part of the wall removal.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about STRUCTURE AND ROOMS:

What are the building code requirements for notching and boring holes in a wall stud? 

What causes dark or light "ghost" lines on ceilings and walls?

Can you access or exit a bedroom through another bedroom?

What is the difference between a carport and a garage? 

What are simple ways to find the cause of a ceiling stain?

What is the minimum size of habitable rooms in a house according to the building code? 

Why is my garage ceiling sagging? 

How can I identify what kind of wood flooring I am looking at?

Why does my concrete floor slab sweat and get slippery?

What is the minimum ceiling height for rooms in a house? 

Why are there score line grooves in the concrete floor of the garage?

How much can I cut out of a floor joist? 

How can I tell if my floors are sloping?

Why do the floors slope in this old house? 

What are the common problems when a homeowner converts a garage to conditioned living space, such as a family room?

• How can I tell if a wall is load-bearing? Which walls can I take out? 

   Visit our STRUCTURE AND ROOMS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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