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This kitchen was once two rooms. The wall that ran down the middle broke up the space, making it feel choppy and small. A new beam was installed above the ceiling so the finished space would be one big, open room.
The wall that separated the kitchen from the family room and dining room was also removed. In this case, a steel beam was installed above the ceiling line as the span (unsupported length) is quite long.
If the beam can't be hidden, use it to make a statement, as in this room.
Here's a simplified sketch of a bearing wall that supports a structural load such as a roof and second floor and transmits this load to the ground through a foundation system. Removing a wall like this requires that you know how much load is being supported over how much distance. This information can be determined by an architect through an examination of the existing conditions.
The least expensive approach to removing the wall is to install an engineered wood beam below the existing floor joists. A contractor would build a temporary support wall on each side of the existing bearing wall, remove the bearing wall, install the wood beam and then remove the temporary walls.
Your architect may find that you'll need to use a steel rather than wood beam due to the length of wall removed and the amount of weight to be supported. Though a steel beam is typically more costly than wood, there are situations when it's the most viable solution.
In this example, the beam sits below the joists and will be below the ceiling line. The beam will then be visible in the finished room and will affect the visual and aesthetic qualities of the room.
Another approach is to hide the beam within the floor joists so it isn't visible when the room is finished. In this case, the existing floor joists are cut away to provide space for the new beam. This approach tends to be more costly due to the extra labor needed to trim the floor joists. Again, don't try this without help from a licensed architect or builder to evaluate the possibilities and design a solution that works for your home.
More: The New, Smaller Great Room