In construction, a load-bearing wall is any exterior wall that sits on the foundation sill, with additional walls standing perpendicular to the joists. Not only does the presence of a load-bearing wall guide the implementation of certain designs, it might also determine whether you may alter existing walls during a remodel. Although having to shift one won’t necessarily be a deal-breaker, it can significantly increase the cost of construction in order to maintain the integrity of your building structure.
When using masonry for a load-bearing wall, it is generally best to reinforce it with embedded steel in the metal and grout. The metal serves as a stabilizing and strengthening force for the wall, which empowers it to withstand greater compression forces. Otherwise, the wall will be more prone to stress and cracking.
The specifications in local regulations will help you to determine whether you should reinforce a masonry wall. It may qualify as load bearing, but cannot support any greater load other than that of its own weight. That said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and easier to reinforce a masonry wall while you are building it, not after.