How Do You Replace The Top Plate On An Exterior Wall? - Building & Construction - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 08-12-2010, 07:05 PM   #1
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How do you replace the top plate on an exterior wall?

I found a small section of termite damage, but there are no signs of the termites. So I'm assuming this is old damage and they are gone for now. I want to make the needed repairs before I have the house inspected and treated.

The area that needs repaired is in the garage. There is one section that is about 10 to 15 foot long that is on an inside corner and another 3 feet on an outside corner. All of which is an exterior wall. There are two, 2x4 stacked on top of each other and I think there called top plate or upper wall plate. Both boards seem to have some damage and should be replaced. I was able to find an area on both ends where the damage stops.

This is a hip roof design, and it looks like I should be able to get to it in the attic if I crawl out to it. How can I replace these boards without damaging the roof or anything else? If I somehow remove the bad areas a little at a time and replace with new boards, would I still need to jack up the rafters? If so, how large of a section can I remove without the fear of the roof sagging? Or do I need to use some type of jack to support the rafters first? If so, what do I sit the jack on to hold it?



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Old 08-13-2010, 05:57 AM   #2
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Subterranean termites??? This is the breed in much of the US. If yes, they only way they get to the top plate is thru the floor and wall studs, so there is a lot more damage hidden. They come from and must return to earth, which makes them easier to eliminate. If you are in the south or Hawaii and these are the airborne variety, the house has to be tented and gased.

As to damage repair, this does not sound like a DIY job. I have done bottom plates and rim joists, which requires jacking the house, but never tried a top plate.


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Old 08-13-2010, 08:10 AM   #3
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Well for one you will have to build a temporary support wall and set the wall studs the same spacing as your original wall to take the load while you replace the top plate. This is not a typical do it yourselfer project but it can be done. You may also want to consult with an engineer before you try and tackle this job to see if he has any other alternatives to your problem. Note: the wall should run perpendicular to the ceiling joists and should be no more then 3 away from your existing wall before you start to do your repairs. The easiest way to remove all effected wood is to use a sawzall and this is at least a two man job.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:16 AM   #4
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That would be a tough job for a seasoned carpenter. It could be blocked a section at a time but if the top plate is shot chances at the other top plate is too. To replace the top plate you will have to build a support wall as Epson said, cut the nails where the ceiling joist and rafters are nail into it. You will have to cut the nails where the plates are nailed together.

I don't know what is nailed to the outside of the wall in the way of your cornice. If your house is bricked you could have a brick box nailed to the outside that will have to be cut loose. You corner brace will have to be cut loose and reinstalled from the outside. Your sheathing will have to be cut loose from the top plate. I think you see where this is headed.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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On top of what has been mentioned, once both the plates and sheathing are cut loose that section of wall may bow in or out. Replacing 3-4 foot sections at a time could weaken the wall. A 12-14 foot plate with over lapping joints is stronger than a wall with numerous joints.
Let's assume that each rafter is nailed to a joist. That temporary wall will supporting the joists and not the rafters themselves.
Are the walls sheetrocked?
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:09 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the replies. This is all good information. It is a brick house and the walls inside the garage is some type of fiber board or presswood panels that have a vertical groove or indention about every six inches .
I going to remove one of the panels tonight to determine if/ howmany studs are damaged.

My thought was to build a support wall and tackle it one bite at a time so that it would not overwhelm me with fear. But the comment that Tizzer made makes since and has me rethinking my plan.

I'm pretty good friends with the contractor that built the house for us, so i'm thinking about calling him to see if he can help in some way .

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Old 08-19-2010, 10:39 PM   #7
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I did something similiar. I'll make a suggestion assuming bare walls and bare ceiling so you can see the framing. You probably need to jack this up an inch to remove and replace the plates. When using a jack to raise the ceiling the pressure is down before anything goes up. I would lay a 2x 12 x 12 on the floor. On top of that I would put a 2x4 support wall to reach the existing ceiling, snug as you can get it. Maybe 18 -24 inches away from the exterior wall. I might even taper the 2x4 top plate (I would use 2) so when I jack the ceiling joists I can hammer the support wall in so it will be perpendicular when we achieve our 1 inch lift from the jacks. If not I would hammer shims between the top plate of the support wall and existing framing as we raise the ceiling.

To raise the ceiling I used adjustable screw lally columns on each end and a bottle jack in the middle on top of a lally column You need at least a 4x4 header or beam that will span the same distance as the support wall on top of each end of the lally columns. Use the bottle jack in the center to raise the ceiling and tighten each end of the lally column to keep everything tight. This whole set up is on the 2x12 on floor in front of the support wall. Now get that support wall hammered in place and remove the jacks or leave them in place if you don't need the work room.

These lally columns, 4x4, metal plates all must be secured so they don't fall and cause injuries.

Just a thought to give you an idea.

I would try and get the longest new plate as I could and try to end them on a stud or even add a new stud in the outside wall.


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