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yellowkid 08-06-2013 03:17 PM

headers in a NLB outside wall?!
I keep hearing/reading conflicting comments on this subject and would love some clarity.

I've read a great deal on line and in books about "overbuilding" with unnecessary (and even thermally inefficient) headers/jackstuds etc in NLB walls, both interior and exterior. then i reviewed some rough plans for my addition (2-story; 18'X18' on a crawlspace foundation) with an architect friend and he suggested I include headers because "the inspectors like to see them". I'm pretty sure code says they are unnecessary. whats the truth? do I apply the same rules in terms of span, header size etc for NLBW? this is a particularly acute issue with a bay I'm planning on the NLB end wall. does the opening (8' span) in the wall for the bay need a header? do the rough openings in the bay itself (its ground floor only) need headers? is this a touchy subject? thx as always jp

joecaption 08-06-2013 03:32 PM

How to you expect the roof to stay up and the opening for the bay to not sag without a header?
In fact with an 8' opening I would over size the header and double up on the jack studs.

yellowkid 08-06-2013 04:22 PM

thank you -- and apologies I'm in bergen county nj!

GBrackins 08-06-2013 05:02 PM

the size of headers is based upon the span of the opening and the load they must support. remember that the header transfers the weight down to foundation not through the window or door frame.

It has been my experience that headers are typically oversized, but that the jack-king studs have been undersized. not having enough area (jack-king studs) for the weight may crush the walls/sill plates and may transfer weight onto the frame.

In my area a 8' opening in a non-load bearing wall would be required to have a 2x6 header with a minimum (3 king studs + 1 jack stud) per Table 9 of the Guide to Wood Construction in High Wind Areas by the American Wood Council. This Guide has been adopted to be a part of our State Building Code for areas with a 110 mph basic wind zone for one- and two-family homes.

Unless your state has adopted this Guide it remains just that, a guide ......

Now in the real world most builders would use a (2) or (3) ply 2x12 for the header for that span just to be on the safe side. As the old saying goes, "it is better to be safe than sorry."

good luck! :thumbsup:

Clutchcargo 08-06-2013 05:32 PM

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What case would a header in a NLB wall be thermally inefficient? I can't think of any exterior NLB wall.

GBrackins 08-06-2013 05:35 PM

meaning using a (3) ply header in a 2x6 wall where a (2) ply with rigid insulation could be used.

having all wood in the header allows heat to transfer to the exterior of the dwelling through the header in the winter. having the rigid insulation provides a thermal break.

In Mass we are suppose to use insulated headers as part of the Energy Conservation portion of the building code.

Gary in WA 08-06-2013 07:21 PM

You may be under the IRC;

Check locally; "602.7.2 Nonbearing walls. Load-bearing headers are not required in interior or exterior nonbearing walls. A single flat 2-inch-by-4-inch (51 mm by 102 mm) member may be used as a header in interior or exterior nonbearing walls for openings up to 8 feet (2438 mm) in width if the vertical distance to the parallel nailing surface above is not more than 24 inches (610 mm). For such nonbearing headers, no cripples or blocking are required above the header. " from;


yellowkid 08-07-2013 09:12 AM

GB thank you for the details -- along the lines I was thinking. don't have the wind issues in NNJ but understand that over-building is better than the alternative. insight on jack studs in particular. and yes you hit the issue i had read about with thermal loss -- not just using insulated headers but also have read that unnecessary framing reduces thermal efficiency overall since more wood means less insulation. which gets me to your note gary -- i had read exactly what you quoted and thats what leads to my confusion overall and my original question. it may be code to use simple 2X4 or 2X6" framing in a NLB exterior wall, but it does not seem to be common practice, and frowned upon by inspectors? this is a classic case of the value of experience which i lack vs what you read in books. you can't get this kind of discussion in a book.

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