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Old 06-23-2007, 08:59 AM   #1
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Do I need to head off my new door?


I'll be installing a new front door that includes sidelights to replace my old door that does not include sidelights. I need to remove the studs on each side of the old door and tripple up the studs (or double 2x4s and a trimmer) next to those to make the opening the correct size. The new door unit width is 65".
The plate is made up with a 4x6 (see photo).

Given the 4x6 plate, do I need to head off the new door with 2x8s or can I simply put in a 2x4 nailer as the original builders did here? I'd rather fill the stud bays with insulation if I can.
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Last edited by Clutchcargo; 06-23-2007 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 06-23-2007, 09:51 AM   #2
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Do I need to head off my new door?


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Originally Posted by Clutchcargo View Post
I'll be installing a new front door that includes sidelights to replace my old door that does not include sidelights. I need to remove the studs on each side of the old door and tripple up the studs (or double 2x4s and a trimmer) next to those to make the opening the correct size. The new door unit width is 65".
The plate is made up with a 4x6 (see photo). Given the 4x6 plate, do I need to head off the new door with 2x8s or can I simply put in a 2x4 nailer as the original builders did here?
This looks like it should be a permitted job and that you should add a header, especially since you are widening the door opening.

Looking at your pic, there doesn't seem to be much room for the width of a structural header. You could use ripped LVL's and remove the "lower" plate and "recess" the header up - to gain more header width. Obviously, you would install temp supports to the ceiling joists.
Realize that this is some initial observations based simply on a single picture with no knowledge of the rest of the wall's design, load/structural factors, etc....

Speak to a knowledgable person and also local inspectional services prior to actually doing anything with this to get their thoughts.

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Old 06-23-2007, 06:55 PM   #3
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Thanks Atlantic,
This is a 2 story colonial. I had my carpenter friend come by and look at it. He says I could probably get away without heading it off at all. The 4x6 runs the entire length of the wall (28'); as far as I can tell it's one piece. Typically an 8" header would be what's required for that span. Since it seems that the wall was overbuilt with the 4x6 top plate, I'm wondering if I can partially count that as a header and suppliment it. The door we're putting in is actually 4" shorter, there is enough room even for 10" header.

On a side note about the construction of headers, is there any benefit to use 1/2" foam between the 2x instead of 1/2" plywood. The thought is that the foam would act as a thermal break.
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Old 06-23-2007, 09:20 PM   #4
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Do I need to head off my new door?


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On a side note about the construction of headers, is there any benefit to use 1/2" foam between the 2x instead of 1/2" plywood. The thought is that the foam would act as a thermal break.
You should check with your local inspector about that header. Please realize that there are alot of carpenters out there, that are not "frame carpenters". I once saw a set of stairs built by someone who called himself a "master carpenter". It flunked the framing inspection, with an added comment by the Building Inspector: "Those are the worst set of stairs I've ever seen. They are "horrible"."

Regarding the foam, I understand your thought on this. However the point of a structural header is that you are "locking the two horizontal widths together to create the header. Those segments of lumber placed on their side and locked together is what gives the header it's ability to support loads. Even though a 1/2" segment of plywood is in between, the 2x8's or 2x10's are still nailed thru and attached to eachother.... I wouldn't worry about not placing foam there. There are millions of houses that do not have it, besides, I really don't feel that you are going to see huge changes in your heating bill because of that little section of foam....
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Old 06-24-2007, 07:18 AM   #5
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Atlantic if thats a two story house wouldn't that be a loadbearing wall? If so i like the LVL ideal. That has to have the second floor resting somehow on it. The more i look at that pic i would reframe for new door and i understand the new door is one unit with skylights. I also agree with atlantic a permit might be required because your messing with structure intergrity.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:32 AM   #6
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Atlantic if thats a two story house wouldn't that be a loadbearing wall?
Look at the picture again and you can clearly see the floor joists sitting on top, so it's a load bearing wall.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:48 AM   #7
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Yes it is a two story.
I was planning on permitting this. Pretty much anything the Medford, MA homeowner does to his house needs a permit.

I thought openings are standard practice with standard header sizes (example for a 2 story... up to a 5 foot opening-6" header, 6 feet-8", 8 feet-10", etc, at least that's what's in my reference manuals).

Is the header size & material something that the inspector should be able to determine?
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:08 AM   #8
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Do I need to head off my new door?


The way header size is determined on a lvl is as follows. Span and what it is carrying the place where your purchasing it at will run some numbers.
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Old 06-28-2007, 07:26 AM   #9
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Do I need to head off my new door?


I spoke with the inspector, he said standard header sizes would apply here, that is 8" for that span. He also said that the existing 4x6 plate should partially be able to carry the load. I'm going to overbuild by using a 10" header to fill the space.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:17 AM   #10
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Is that post and beam construction?
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Old 06-29-2007, 10:11 AM   #11
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Before I pulled the plaster off the walls, I would have put money on it that this was a balloon framed house. It's not post and beam, however. I'm not quite sure what to call it. The 4x6's run on all 4 walls. The 4x6s that run on the sides of the house are set on top of the front and back 4x6s. Bear in mind that I'm just learning all this as I go along.
I have a 9 foot wide window in the livingroom on front of the house. I haven't torn down the plaster yet but I'm fairly confident that there is no header there either.
I think the thought back in 1925 was that if they used a 4x6 for the top plate then they didn't need to worry about headers.
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:29 AM   #12
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Do I need to head off my new door?


Are you going to cut the 4x6?
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:59 AM   #13
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Do I need to head off my new door?


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Are you going to cut the 4x6?
No, I'm not planning to cut the 4x6... although... then I could install a transom too. Scope creap and then trying to convince my wife that I'd like to finish something soon is what's slowing me down.

Realistically, I could probably get away with 4" header in conjunction with the existing 4x6, but I'm afraid the building inspector would play the structural-engineer-stamp-required card $$$.

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