Don’t Trust Old Adages About Making A Header
Q: In a recent JLC Update newsletter, an author provided a rule of thumb for sizing joists. Is there a similar rule for sizing headers?
A:Darren Tracy, P.E., owner of West Branch Engineering, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., responds: Before becoming a licensed professional engineer, I was a contractor. When I had just started my business, I did any kind of job I could find in order to make a living, often working on small remodeling jobs or additions.;
Back then, I used a rule of thumb for sizing headers that either someone had told me about or Id read about somewhere. It went like this: Measure the span in feet and add 2 to that number. The sum will be the height of your double header in inches.
For example, if the span is 4 feet, add 2 to 4 for a sum of 6. Therefore, the header would need to be made from doubled 2x6s. For odd numbers, round up. ;
This rule of thumb seemed to be consistent with what I had observed as a contractor as being typical of header details in the industryand the rule had a certain jobsite eloquence to it. But from a professional engineers perspective, the problem is that the rule is not comprehensive; it may work for a single-story home with an average snow load, but it doesnt work for every situation.
So the short answer is, there is no comprehensive rule of thumb that is useful for designing headers.;
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Replacing Header Over Sliding Glass Doors
bluefitness said:I’m trying to debate whether to tackle this job on my own.-I’m not sure if we are allowed to talk about prices on this board. If not, please disregard this question. I’m just looking for a ball park figure on the labor to replace a header, build a temp wall, and replace a couple of load bearing studs. The bottom top plate is also damaged and needs to be replaced. All of the work will be performed in the same section the temp wall will hold up. It is a sliding glass door with three panels. I will do all of the rest of the work .Is this a dangerous job for a diyer to attempt?
super carpenter Rob said:Hi it’s not that hard. I have a question is this on a bearing wall? if it is you will need to build a wall to take the weight off of the header. the wall will have to be a little higher than the wall with the header jack up just a bit. you have to make sure that your wall is crossing the floor joist double plate the bottom and top plates,I try to place the studs under the joist but double plating will be ok if you can’t get them under the joist don’t rush watch everything as you are jacking have the top and bottom plate in place and your studs cut.you can stack the plates on top of each other and measure from floor to cieling cut you studs 1/2″ long it may be enough,when you get into it you may find some of the studs need to be replaced read this and get back with more questions and pictures if you can regards Rob
Creating The Door Frame
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First Microlam Header Is Nailed In Place
Install Laminated Veneer Headers
Set the first header beam on top of the jack studs. Check that it’s level, and shim it up if it’s not. Nail it into place as shown in the image.
Note: The lambeams that come from lumber yards are often not square because they are cut with a chain saw. To make sure they’re square, use a framing square to even the ends.
Set the second header beam in right next to the first one and attach it with nails to the first header. The two header beams together should be the same width as the stud wall.
Framing Your Door Rough Opening Correctly Will Make Installing Doors Go Smoothly
First, you must determine the size of your door. Measure the door if you already have it. If you dont, take the actual door size you will be installing and add 2 inches to the width and two and one-half inches to the height, This will give you the correct rough openings. The reason for the extra space is to allow room for the door frame and for space to adjust the door. Once you have all this information, its just a matter of where you want your door.
Always use two studs on each side of the opening. The first will be continuous from the top plate to the bottom plate. This is called a king stud.;
The next jack stud will be cut to the height of your door plus 2-1/2 and minus the thickness of the bottom plate 1-1/2 as it will rest on top of this. So your jack stud should be cut at 81 for a 6-8 tall door.Your header size is determined by the load it carries.
If you are building a new bearing wall or cutting in a new doorway be sure to check your local building code span charts or consult an engineer to properly size the header. Once you know the depth of the header, its width is cut to fit from king stud to king stud, with the jack studs fitting under it to help disperse the loads.
A typical header width with single jack studs is cut 3 larger than the rough opening.
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Hey Einstein How Big Should That Header Be
Figure B: Example of Calculating Header Size
Header size required to support the roof, ceiling and one center bearing floor of a 28-ft. wide building; 30-lb. snow load.
Calculating header size is complicated as you learn how to frame a window. You have to take into account: the length of the window or door opening; the combined weight of the floors, walls and roofs above; the building width; the snow load in the area; whether its a bearing wall or a non-bearing wall ; whether its an exterior or interior bearing wall; and what species of wood youre working with. The 2000 International Building Code book contains two full pages of mind-numbing charts for calculating proper header sizes in different situations. Fig. B shows the maximum allowable spans for different size headers in just one situation. As youd expect, the deeper the header, the longer the distance it can span. But trust me, you dont want to wade into all the technicalities. Theres no simple formula. My advice is this:
Header size required to support the roof, ceiling and one center bearing floor of a 28-ft. wide building; 30-lb. snow load.
Need Help With Building A Door Or Window Header
It sounds so confusing load bearing, non-load bearing, span and load. These are all term to describe and calculate door and window header sizes. Its not really that difficult if you break it down into simple descriptive terms.
What Exactly is a Header?
Think of a header like a small bridge. We recently visited the Mackinac Bridge in Northern Michigan. The purpose of the bridge is to span the gap in the land and allow the loads of cars and trucks to cross without plunging into the water below.
The Mackinac Bridge span is 5 miles long, with many intermediate support pillars. Im sure none of your door or window headers will be that long, but the principal is really the same. A door header allows you to create openings, transfer those weights to the studs beside the opening and then to ;the foundation, much like the pillars do in a bridge.;Now we know how they work, but how do we know what size to use? Thats where it can be complicated.
There is no standard size header, no one size fits all. It all depends on the width of the opening, the weights resting on the top of the header and the various external factors such as the extra weight of snow, wind and rain. Not to mention those external factors called live loads, change by geographic location.
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How To Construct A Door Header Without Enough Height
Is it possible to construct an exterior door header over a 6′ opening without enough space for a 10″ header?
One of the previous home owners installed this addition over an existing patio. Constructing a wall with a 6′ sliding glass door parallel with roof joist above. With the pitch of the roof, the low end of the roof joist leaves only 4″ of height above the door frame.
The framing of the door is incorrect, but I want to know if it is possible to even frame a door this size given such little roof for the header.
Is the only solution to install a narrower door, requiring a smaller header?
If you’re looking at the image, we also would like to extend the wall to the left, eliminating the single door and the 3’x3′ area for the door to swing. This would allow us to shift the door over to the left to free up a little more room for the header
Standard Framing For French Doors
The two primary concerns of a builder constructing door framing are safety and local building code requirements. Standard framing for a set of French doors varies only in its framed width compared with standard door framing. The wall frame is constructed from vertical stud sections and a horizontal header, with small cripple studs above the header attached to the double top plate, depending on the ceiling and door height. After framing the rough opening, the door jamb attaches inside the opening to support the doors hinged to it. For exterior walls, a bottom horizontal threshold is added.
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Figure C: Cripple Studs
Cripples help fill in the space above headers and below sills. Install them in step with your other wall studs; carry through the 16- or 24-in. spacing so plywood sheathing and drywall panels can start and end in the center of a cripple.
Three more components are used to finish the work headers began:
Trimmers butt under, and support, each end of the header and are nailed to the king studs alongside them. Longer headers and those supporting more weight require the support of two or more trimmers on each end, and some openings require more than one king stud. Again, consult your architect, engineer or local code official to determine when you need to install extra trimmers or king studs as you learn how to frame a window.
Sills establish the bottoms of window rough openings . With large window openings, its a good idea to use doubled sills for strength and stability as go through the how to frame a window process.
Cripple studs fill in the space between the sills and the 2×4 nailing plate below; they carry only the weight of the window itself. Sometimes cripples are installed over a window or door to fill in the space between the top of a header and top of a wall. These do carry weight. As a bonus, all this extra wood provides an ideal anchor for the nails used to install wood trim and moldingsespecially the wide stuff.
Garage Door Framing Guide: How To Frame A Garage Door Opening
Do you want to know how to frame a garage door opening? Then this article is for you. Well discuss all you need to know about garage door framing and its technicalities. This is a crucial step to perform if you have plans of purchasing a new garage door or even replacing an existing one.;
Ill explain the process more extensively, as we proceed. I suggest you go through the entire article at least once before you start. You dont want a situation where your newly bought garage door wont fit in an opening or an opening which is wider than the door. This is also important because without framing your garage door, there is no possible way to mount your garage door properly.
Something to take note of
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More On Door Framing:
Not-So-Rough Openings Framing exterior openings precisely will make installing the windows and doors a breeze.
11 Golden Rules of Framing Test yourself: How many do you know? How many do you use?
10 Golden Rules of Framing Editors distill their favorite nuggets of framing wisdom from 36 years of Fine Homebuilding.
10 Rules for Framing Veteran framer Larry Haun has been building house for over 50 years. And having started out in the housing tracts of Southern California, he has learned to be as efficient as possible about the process. Here he distills his experience down to 10 fundamental rules.
Troubleshooting a Prehung Door Installation If you know where things go wrong, you can install a door that will swing the way its meant to for years to come.
Plumb Perfect Prehung Doors Believe it or not, you need the level only once, and thats before you ever touch the door.
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The Wall Frame Header
The horizontal support that spans the rough opening at the top of the door is called the header. A typical header can be a four-by-eight or four-by-ten inch beam for two-by-four walls. But many builders make headers by using boards faced by dimensional boards to match the thickness of the wall. For example, a header can be built with two two-by-eight or two-by-ten boards fastened together in a two-by-four framed wall. The header thickness and height is the only real difference between standard and French-door framing. The header supports the framing above the opening, and is also used for windows or any opening that spans a distance in a framed wall. Above the header, small perpendicular cripple studs are toe-nailed to the doubled top plate.
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Repairing A Patio Door
Our home is a 13-year-old wood frame, stucco tract house. We have an 8-foot-wide patio door in our kitchen. The rollers are worn out and the door is sliding metal-to-metal. It is very heavy and cannot be lifted out of the track. I’ve been told that the header beam has sagged and I would need to have it jacked up. I am afraid this would probably crack the textured drywall and stucco. Do you have any other suggestions?
You didn’t mention if you already have cracks or not in the area where the slider is. If the header has sagged, it would have put some stress on the wall causing cracks in the wall or up in the area where the wall meets the ceiling. This one would be hard for me to give advice about, especially when I cannot see the problem firsthand. I do know from experience that the correct way to solve this kind of problem is by replacing the header.
If a header is sagging or has sagged, then this is good indication that the header is not adequate enough for the span or the weight it’s carrying. Again my recommendation is to replace the header. This will be a costly proposition but well worth the investment, especially if you want to continue using the 8-foot slider. I have replaced many headers above sliders because they were not properly sized for the application8-, 10-, and 12-foot sliders. A quick fix could be done, but there’s no guarantee after the fix that the header will stop sagging. This is a job for a pro!