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scottlover 05-15-2012 04:12 PM

HELP APPRECIATED!! Vaulting our ceiling - HIP roof, not clear to me!
6 Attachment(s)
Hello helpful and knowledgeable DIY people! Please read on.
We reeeally want to vault at least in our living room. We are also taking out a wall that is load bearing. We understand the need for a header where we take out the wall. The confusing parts for me come with our beams in the attic. Please take a look at these pics. The first is taken from the attic entry, which is pretty much the center of the house. The house is 1942, small (1000sft), hip design. The hallway goes down the center from front to back, covering I'd say the middle third of the house (as in room in front, room in rear). We know at least part of that wall is load bearing - That's where you see the kickers come down to. The room we especially want to vault is straight ahead and to the right in pic.1. I like the horizontal "roof tie" beam (I'm guessing :thumbup:). I want rid of the kickers and ceiling joists! If someone with knowledge could PLEEEEASE share with me I will be forever grateful! I have seen so many pictures of roof/truss designs including a typical hip. Our's looks different even to that! I know our ridge is skinny so it is not supporting much. Can anyone shed light on what we need to do to strengthen the structure enough to remove the kickers and ceiling joists?

Thank you so much for your help

Daniel Holzman 05-15-2012 04:19 PM

You are correct, your ridge is a ridge board, which is not a structural element. The roof rafters are supported by the outer walls, and are tied together by the floor beams. The kickers provide extra support to the rafters by making the setup similar to a truss.

There are several ways to vault the ceiling, none of them particularly easy to do, likely not a DIY project unless you have significant framing experience. One way is to replace the rafters and kickers with a roof truss, a scissors truss is commonly used. Another option is to replace the ridge board with a ridge beam, which is a structural element that supports the rafters at the top. The ridge beam needs to be properly sized and adequately supported, typically at either end, sometimes with an extra post or two between the ends.

Either of these options requires serious framing, but they both have the advantage of allowing you to eliminate the floor beams and the kickers. You may want to consult an architect, an engineer, or an experienced framer about which method works best in your specific case. A lot has to do with your budget and ability to remove the roof to allow the work to be done.

scottlover 05-15-2012 04:30 PM

Thank you Daniel! Really appreciate the help.
Wow! Do I need to remove the roof for all of the options listed?
I might sway towards the cheaper or easier option whichever that would be.
Is it possible to add layers to the current ridge board to make it a beam or will we have to open the roof, remove the board and replace with a whole new beam?
I actually prefer to see some structure exposed even including the odd beam at ceiling joist height. Just not so many that it feels like the ceiling is still in place!
Can you hint at what might be my best option?


Jeeps 05-15-2012 05:11 PM

Hint: The kickers are supporting a weak rafter system that is sagging because they are spaced too far apart on centers and probaly have too long of a span on them to be 2 x 6's....

So, basically you already have roof structure problems that need to be addressed and to try to "modify" your design conception within the existing rafter system, will be problematic. Time for a pros "on site" inspection and advice. good luck. jmo

ddawg16 05-15-2012 07:42 PM

Why did you steal the photos of my attic?

Just kidding...but that really does look like mine.

Mine also has the kickers....installed when they did the house in 52....that is what happens when they do 2x4's on 24" OC.....

First off....expect the roof rafters needing to be sistered with at least 2x6 if not 2x8's.

Like Daniel said....not exactly a DIY project....though, we did vault the ceiling in our galley kitchen....which in our case was easy....the inside wall was load bearing so we just took it all the way up to the rafters....the ceiling joists in the kitchen were only there to hold up the drywall....but that was our kitchen....a main room is a different matter.....

Time to call in an expert. Me being the ultimate DIY'er would not even attempt it without detailed instructions from an expert.

Daniel Holzman 05-15-2012 07:49 PM

There is no practical way to sister the ridge board to make it a ridge beam. Any realistic ridge beam is going to be a serious structural element, likely an LVL or a glulam. Plus you need to support it, so that means posts going down to the lowest level on a footing. Serious work. Once the ridge beam is in place, the rafters must be attached using special brackets at the top and at the wall, so in most cases this means removing the existing rafters and ceiling.

I suppose you could conceivably shoehorn a ridge beam in place, never seen it done that way, more work than it is worth, and the existing rafters may not be adequate anyway, as noted by other posters. Use of scissors trusses is a common, good technique, but again you are going to need to remove the roof and rafters to place the trusses.

I don't know of any real alternative to removing the roof, getting down to the walls, and framing above. Trusses are usually placed with a crane, but can be placed with a Genie lift or similar. A ridge beam usually needs a crane, certainly it is the easiest way to place a large, heavy beam.

I don't mean to discourage you, but if you do not have some serious DIY framing experience, this is a tough project to start on.

ddawg16 05-15-2012 08:38 PM

Allow me to illustrate what Daniel is talking about....

I'm in the middle (ok, maybe over half way) of a 2-story addition to my house. The upstairs is basically an 18'x33' area...1/2 is bedroom...other half bathroom/walk in closet....Vaulted ceiling in both areas......

This is what my ridge beam looks's a 5 1/4" x 11 1/4" PSL beam....actually...2 beams...supported in the middle....with 2x8's for the roof rafters.

Yea....this is what it might take to vault your ceiling....

hand drive 05-15-2012 09:10 PM

It seems that one of the issues with vaulting a hip roof is where the hip ridges come up from the walls and meet the main ridge. If the main ridge is upgraded to support the vaulted ceiling and the current ceiling joists taken out the bearing points for the new fortified ridge is needed to be located in the area that is to be vaulted, out in the middle of the room in most cases.

Gary in WA 05-15-2012 11:38 PM

Because your ridge board is just plywood/particle board, it would not support a retrofit ridge beam anyway:

Your pitch is very low, may require beams as valley, hips and ridge;

Notice the purlins used because of your under-sized rafters. Your sheathing is the original 1x boards and wood shingles. Will want to add structural sheathing and remove the wood shingles at next re-roof if using asphalt shingles:


TheScott 05-16-2012 11:10 AM

Hey everyone. Thanks for all of the replies. I'm the husband (of "scottlover") in this equation. I'm curious about one thing that my wife didn't mention. I've already taken a wall down to studs that where we'll be putting a header into place. The kickers are coming down on top of some of those walls. Would it be just as effective to place that header in the attic above the ceiling joists and have the kickers coming down on the attic header instead of a header thats visible below the ceiling joists?

Daniel Holzman 05-16-2012 12:34 PM

Moving a header up to the attic is more complex than installing a drop down header. You can't support the header on the joists, you need posts that penetrate through the floor down to the lowest point in the house, where the posts are typically supported on concrete footers. If you have a main beam in the basement and it is structurally capable of holding up the posts, you can terminate the posts on the beam using an appropriate bracket.

The header needs to support the joists that run over it, which is easy if the header is below the joists, and can be done with Simpson brackets if the header is flush with the joists, but if the header is above the joists, you need heavy duty support brackets to connect the header to each joist. It can be done, just more difficult than the standard drop down header.

By the way, when you performed the analysis for sizing the header, it is critical that you account for the point loads of the kickers where they meet the header. The loading is very different than the typical uniform loading you get from floor joists spanning over a header.

scottlover 05-20-2012 02:12 PM

Hi Guy's! Everyone is so helpful I'm really happy I found this website. GBR those links were really useful. Thank you. Looks like we could hang a "retrofit" ridge beam... is that without needing to remove the roof. Pretty sure it's a real wood 1x something right now. We are in the process of wall knocking still. Turns out that everything we want to knock out is load bearing!! It's basically the end of a hallway that finishes in our main living room/dining room with a hallway width closet. The closet is kind of the "U" at the end. We wanted to knock out the entire "U" (actually a "U" with an underscore.. U_ ...) that separates our kitchen, and living. Currently resembles a large plastered chimney (If you have imagination). I am learning to love this 4ftx3ft blockage but my husband still prefers to knock the whole thing out. We do like open plan.:) Since it's the center of the house kickers are going to all 3 sides of the thing! We have supporting beams in the back of the closet too. We will at least leave a pillar! Anyhow, while opening the portions of wall and doorway even to leave the closet, we have come across a diagonal beam?!? Just wondering if we should acknowledge this as something special? It's above the doorway to kitchen. We wanted to open above and widen to the left also. Looks like the diagonal continues past and down the wall. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. I might go take some pics of our end wall. It's the back too corners of the closet. We were going to leave a pillar on one side and take out the other putting in a header. See if I get to it.

I sooooo want to vault! Considering even exposing all that is there kickers 'n' all! May be covering the grotty looking current roof with paneling. It's kind of a now or never thing but this wall knocking is taking more brain power than we hoped! It is also a useful closet.
Cheers very much everyone. Oh and ddawg16 your addition looks great! That's our next step. I'll know where to come :)

scottlover 05-20-2012 02:37 PM

1 Attachment(s)
OK here it is... my file was too big. Also if anyone can suggest header size? Believe it or not we had a structural engineer come over and told us nothing! "oh you might want to put a header here....!!!!" No joke.
Thanks :)

kwikfishron 05-20-2012 03:10 PM

199 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by scottlover (Post 925214)
Believe it or not we had a structural engineer come over and told us nothing! "oh you might want to put a header here....!!!!" No joke.

You can count me as one that does not believe it. :whistling2:

Daniel Holzman 05-20-2012 05:31 PM

First off, did you hire the structural engineer, or did you have him over for dinner and cocktails? I find it impossible to visualize you hiring an actual structural engineer to perform an analysis of the required size of your header, and he did nothing for the fee. It seems like you are leaving out a critical part of the story, like maybe this individual was not a licensed engineer, maybe you did not have a contract with him, etc.

As for getting someone on the internet to suggest a beam size, I totally do not get the point of that. What possible use are you going to make of an over the internet suggestion about beam size? Build it that way? And if the house falls down, then what? Sizing a header correctly that is going to carry load is about the most critical possible thing you can do in a house, you either get it right, which requires a site visit and careful load evaluation, or you suffer the consequences. Getting suggestion for mission critical sizing over an internet chat forum is a very bad plan.

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