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Old 01-25-2011, 03:13 PM   #1
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Header size for ext. wall opening


Considering some last minute changes to my wife and I's home rehab. Wanting to further open up an exterior wall entering into a side porch, turned 4 seasons room. Initially, it went from a 2-8 ext. door to a 4-0 interior french. Now we're thinking of furthing opening it up, and not using doors at all.
This is a permitted job, thus I'll eventually need an engineer to sign off on it. I have no problems with that. I just want to narrow down my options before he "clocks" back in. Here's the details -

2 x 4 wood construction. Opening on 1st story, with a second story above it. Construction taking place in kansas city, mo. jackson county. Opening to be anywhere from 7'-6" to 11'-6" wide. I know that's vague. Opening will end up being based on height of header. This is why I thought I'd pick some of your brains first.
1st story finished ceiling height is only 7'-9" (had I known how many financial/permitting headaches this was going to cause me, I might of passed on purchasing the home) . Ceiling height of porch is 6'-11 1/2".
With the second story above it, and based on initial research, I'm pretty sure I can't use standard dimensional lumber. ie a pair of 2x12's. So I figure I'll have to use LVLs. (the house is no stranger to these already) I guess what I'm looking for is the greatest doorway width I can achieve without the header dropping down too far. Once again vague, but for discussion purposes, lets say ideally, I'd like to keep the opening the same height as a standard door - 80" or so.

ANY help, directly, or referencing a chart, would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Jules

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Old 01-25-2011, 04:45 PM   #2
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Header size for ext. wall opening


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Originally Posted by JulesB View Post
Considering some last minute changes to my wife and I's home rehab. Wanting to further open up an exterior wall entering into a side porch, turned 4 seasons room. Initially, it went from a 2-8 ext. door to a 4-0 interior french. Now we're thinking of furthing opening it up, and not using doors at all.
This is a permitted job, thus I'll eventually need an engineer to sign off on it. I have no problems with that. I just want to narrow down my options before he "clocks" back in. Here's the details -

2 x 4 wood construction. Opening on 1st story, with a second story above it. Construction taking place in kansas city, mo. jackson county. Opening to be anywhere from 7'-6" to 11'-6" wide. I know that's vague. Opening will end up being based on height of header. This is why I thought I'd pick some of your brains first.
1st story finished ceiling height is only 7'-9" (had I known how many financial/permitting headaches this was going to cause me, I might of passed on purchasing the home) . Ceiling height of porch is 6'-11 1/2".
With the second story above it, and based on initial research, I'm pretty sure I can't use standard dimensional lumber. ie a pair of 2x12's. So I figure I'll have to use LVLs. (the house is no stranger to these already) I guess what I'm looking for is the greatest doorway width I can achieve without the header dropping down too far. Once again vague, but for discussion purposes, lets say ideally, I'd like to keep the opening the same height as a standard door - 80" or so.

ANY help, directly, or referencing a chart, would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Jules
If you need the height you can always put a flush header in depending on what size opening you want and what the engineer spec's.

If the engineer spec's out a 12" header you can cut out the top plates and put the header up against the bottom of the floor joists.

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Old 01-25-2011, 04:56 PM   #3
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Header size for ext. wall opening


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Originally Posted by Joe Carola View Post
If you need the height you can always put a flush header in depending on what size opening you want and what the engineer spec's.

If the engineer spec's out a 12" header you can cut out the top plates and put the header up against the bottom of the floor joists.
X2
My calcs with the info you've given allow 11-1/2 " of room for a header
The header may be an LVL, Glulam, Dimensional or Steel or Dimensional/Steel combination

Get the engineers' stamp. Have him design it.
Roof load, wall load, floor load etc.
He has to look at all the factors to truly spec out what can or cannot go in there.

Let us know .................pics are good
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:56 PM   #4
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Header size for ext. wall opening


With headroom issues, you can't beat a steel header, you may be able to use one with as little as 5 inches depth. The engineer will spec it for you and develop attachment details.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:21 PM   #5
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Header size for ext. wall opening


Jules,

Flitch plates work well in situations like this also.
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Old 01-26-2011, 12:03 PM   #6
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Header size for ext. wall opening


Thanks for the input guys.

Joe - I've had to cut out the bottom of the two top plates above two windows, and above the front door on this project. I didn't know you could cut both out though. I'll discuss that with the engineer.

tcleve - agreed. I'll have the engineer spec it out. Just simply trying to narrow down my options. Basically trying to keep him off-the-clock as much as possible. We're already overbudget on the design side.

Daniel - ideally, that's what I'd like to do. But steel beams are just so expensive these days. Not that LVL's are cheap by any means.

Here's a couple pics. First two are from the inside looking out (sorry for the quality. My camera just doesn't like the light shining in through the cracks.) Third is shot standing in the sun room.

Current header is just a temp until my wife lands





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Old 01-26-2011, 01:15 PM   #7
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Header size for ext. wall opening


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Originally Posted by JulesB View Post
Thanks for the input guys.

Joe - I've had to cut out the bottom of the two top plates above two windows, and above the front door on this project. I didn't know you could cut both out though. I'll discuss that with the engineer.

tcleve - agreed. I'll have the engineer spec it out. Just simply trying to narrow down my options. Basically trying to keep him off-the-clock as much as possible. We're already overbudget on the design side.

Daniel - ideally, that's what I'd like to do. But steel beams are just so expensive these days. Not that LVL's are cheap by any means.

Here's a couple pics. First two are from the inside looking out (sorry for the quality. My camera just doesn't like the light shining in through the cracks.) Third is shot standing in the sun room.

Current header is just a temp until my wife lands





You have many options here. Another option with keeping a smaller header would be to fir out the wall another 1-1/2" so that you can have a 3-ply header. Keeping it a 2x4 wall limits you in height. Example, 2x4 wall the desired opening gets spec'd with a 2x12 header. If you have at least a 5" wall you might be able to get away with 3-2x10's or 3-2x8's for a header. You can gain 2-4 extra inches in height.
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Old 01-26-2011, 01:30 PM   #8
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Header size for ext. wall opening


Joe - that's a good idea to consider. Fur it into the home, and just trim it out strong. Might even be able to get the bottom of the header upto flush to the porch ceiling height.
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Old 01-26-2011, 01:41 PM   #9
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Header size for ext. wall opening


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Joe - that's a good idea to consider. Fur it into the home, and just trim it out strong. Might even be able to get the bottom of the header upto flush to the porch ceiling height.
One good thing about framing exterior walls with 2x6's is that you can always use a smaller size header because you can use 3 pieces instead of two. Helps alot in tight situations. You have that option if you want. Best thing for you to do is figure out the biggest opening you want first and see what size would be spec'd for a 2x4 wall and a 5" wall. Work backwards from there.

If you don't like the height of the header you can make the opening smaller. If you still want the biggest opening, you have the flush header, 1/2" flitch plate in between 2-2x's for a 2s4 wall, 1/2" flitch plate in between 2-2x's plus another 2x header for a 5" wall. Or, miclolams ripped down. You can rip microlams down, you can't rip 2x's down.
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Last edited by Joe Carola; 01-26-2011 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 01-26-2011, 02:43 PM   #10
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Header size for ext. wall opening


Best thing for you to do is figure out the biggest opening you want first and see what size would be spec'd for a 2x4 wall and a 5" wall. Work backwards from there That's a good idea, and probably how I'll approach it.

One good thing about framing exterior walls with 2x6's is that you can always use a smaller size header because you can use 3 pieces instead of two. Part of this project included kicking out the roof on the back of the house. They actually made me use 2x6 construction on the second story. Which didn't make much sense to me, as the first story is 2x4. So basically, they had me sit 6's on top of 4's.
It did help with headers on a dormer (triple 2x8s)
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Old 02-17-2011, 08:52 PM   #11
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Header size for ext. wall opening


For those who showed interest, here's where it landed (using an engineer)......
I ended up making a 7' - 2" opening, using a pair of 9 1/2 x 1 3/4 LVL's, using double cripples. He specked it out either removing one or both of the top plates. I chose to have the header drop down below the porch ceiling height as apposed to removing both plates and having to add steel.

Thanks for the help and interest.

Regards,
Jules




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