Framed Bearing Wall

By Todd Fratzel on Framing

Basement Bearing Walls

Last year at this time we began framing the house. Looking at the pictures reminds me of one thing I chose to do in our new home that is a bit different. I chose to frame a bearing wall down the center of the basement instead of using lolly columns and a beam. My reason was pretty simple. I know some day we’ll finish the basement and I’d just end up framing a wall anyway. The other nice thing is not having lolly columns. If I ever need to put in another door opening all I have to do is cut some studs, throw in a header and I’m done. Basement Bearing Wall

After the bearing wall was finished the floor joists were installed spanning the entire distance from the front to the rear of the house. Once the joists are in we used “squash” blocks on either side of each joist to help in two ways. One, each block can be cut to hold the joist at the proper elevation to level the floor system and secondly, the “squash” blocks help transfer the bearing wall loads from the 2nd floor down the the lower bearing wall. The reason that is important is the web of the joists really are not strong enough to transfer the load. Hence the name “squash”, you are preventing squashing of the joist web plate.

TJI Floor Framing Over Bearing Wall
Engineered Lumber FramingIn the photo above you can see the “squash” blocks along each joist at the center bearing wall.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. gledwood says:

    Are they timber-framed houses? Timber framing seems to be so much more popular in the States than here (England). People would feel that timber isn’t “permanent” like bricks are, also, here in London timberframed building is illegal … since, incidentally, the great Fire of London in 1666.! I found you at random – pressing “next blog” from mine. If you want to see my blog you’re welcome: gledwood2.blogspot – my online secret diary of my life and problems. Maybe I’ll see you there..?! All the very best of luck with your project and keep up the fascinating blog.


    (“Gledwood Vol 2”)

  2. Todd says:

    Most all houses here are timber framed. Masonry would be very expensive. You have a nice blog as well.

  3. rick says:

    Do you have a spread footing under that load bearing basement wall, or is it just bearing on the concrete floor. Thinking of building the same way instead of using lolly columns, however I would think you’d still need a footing to spread the load from the stud wall into the ground.

    Thanks for the blog!

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Rick – Yes, there is a 12″ thick, 18″ wide footing under the slab for the full length of the house. I wanted the flexibility to frame door openings where ever I wanted, so this approach gives me that flexibility.

  4. Pete Badding says:

    I am doing something similar where I am using bearing walls instead of steel beams. Each bearing wall has a grade beam. Do I have to wait until the basement floor is poured to start framing? Are there alternatives so that I don’t have to pour basement concrete first?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Pete – Sure….the big issue is being sure there is a footing in place that can support the load, then the slab can be poured up to the wall. You’d want to be sure any lower framing that would come in contact with the concrete is pressure treated. Good luck!

  5. David says:

    Did you pour a footing under the wall? Is the slab isolated? Are there any point load paths coming down onto the bearing wall that would warrant and increased footing spread? Isn’t it “Lally”?

  6. I know this is a bit old but I just ran across this article.
    I am currently building a house and I will also have a basement load bearing wall.
    We will be starting the framing before basement floor is poured. We will also be installing hydroponic heating in the slab.
    My question is should the wall be blocked up off of the strip footing with concrete blocks up to the proposed level of the slab since the framing will begin prior to slab pour?
    I wouldn’t think you would want the slab poured around your wall framing.

  7. George A Burts says:

    I am taking out a 20′ section on my second floor between my living room and kitchen (having a kitchen remodel). I need to know what size footings I will need in my basement?
    I was thinking a 12″ footing would be adequate, but I am not sure..I have limited space, because one of the footings is going to end up in my furnace room…Please help and let me know if a 12″ slab will be adequate for the load above?
    I can also dig under the existing slab and push the size larger if that works.
    I have the floor above plus a roof with ceramic shingles (which I am going to replace with rubber shingles).

  8. John S says:

    Nice work, was slab level, or did some studs need to be cut?

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