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Old 09-07-2008, 07:25 PM   #1
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beams wood or steel


I am removing an outside wall on my house to open the living room to the added on porch. The wall I am removing is naturaly a load bearing wall. My house is all wood frame, and at this point it is 26' deep. The opening I have made is 17 1/2' wide. The original wall was 2x4, and in that 17 1/2' there was a 36" door and a 10' window. So I know that it can't have too much on it. This wall was where the original cieling joists ended, and where the add on porch starts. I am doing this to make the living room larger. I need help deciding on whether to go with a wooden beam, or a steel I-Beam. I also need to know what size wood be needed to do either. i want to keep as loww a profile as possible. Can anyone help?

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Old 09-07-2008, 07:46 PM   #2
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beams wood or steel


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Originally Posted by Bill Roden View Post
I am removing an outside wall on my house to open the living room to the added on porch. The wall I am removing is naturaly a load bearing wall. My house is all wood frame, and at this point it is 26' deep. The opening I have made is 17 1/2' wide. The original wall was 2x4, and in that 17 1/2' there was a 36" door and a 10' window. So I know that it can't have too much on it. This wall was where the original cieling joists ended, and where the add on porch starts. I am doing this to make the living room larger. I need help deciding on whether to go with a wooden beam, or a steel I-Beam. I also need to know what size wood be needed to do either. i want to keep as loww a profile as possible. Can anyone help?
You will have to consult with a structural engineer on this. He will need to take into account all the loads that are going to be imposed upon the new header. Example> Ceiling, Roof, floor?.
You said your looking for a low profile. then most likely your going to be looking At wood and steel. Unless you can upset the header, by making it flush. then you should be able to use engineered wood.
GOOD luck BOB

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Old 09-07-2008, 09:58 PM   #3
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beams wood or steel


Bob's right. There are so many variables at play here that we just can't give you an answer in good conscience. A 17'+ clear span on an exterior wall is a very significant span. In addition to sizing a header, the removal of the wall sheathing that once covered portions of the wall can often create a structural deficiency in the home's ability to resist wind load. For less than a few hundred bucks, you can get a residential structural engineer to come out and give you some guidance as well as specify the member size.

Another consideration is that you're taking over 17' of exterior wall load and are now concentrating it at two bearing points...One at each end of the header. Any structure below and especially the foundation/footing need to be evaluated to make sure that they're capable of carrying a significantly increased concentrated load.

If a permit is required in your area, rest assured that the inspector will require an engineer's evaluation.

I know it sounds like a copout, but it would be irresponsible for us to size this beam for you. The best advice you can possibly get is to hire an engineer.
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