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Old 01-01-2009, 07:49 PM   #1
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


Hi, I am new to this site , thought I would give it a try

I have a 70's built Bi-level with slab basement. On the exterior back wall of the lower level family room, I have a small window and a standard size door a few feet down from the window. I want to eliminate both the window and door and replace with a large french doors or french patio style doors. My question is can I sucessfully do this with a double 2x12 header with double jack studs. I have a suspended ceiling down there so I could temporarily support joists. Also we are considering side lite windows on either side of the french doors. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me,

John

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Old 01-01-2009, 08:09 PM   #2
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


You really need to be specific. The terms, "load bearing, large and sidelights" are terms you use at a cocktail party. If you want to build something, you need detailed specifics if you want to build it correctly.
You would need to know how wide the rough opening will need to be, in feet and inches. You will need to know what the load is on the area in question.
Posting a picture of the exterior would help.
Ron

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Old 01-01-2009, 08:37 PM   #3
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


Ok, I understand I will take a picture of the back of the house tomorrow and post it. I dont know for sure what the rough opening will be, I am trying to figure out how big of an opening I can make first before I buy my french doors. it would be a minimum of 5ft I am sure. It is a bi-level house and the wall in question is supporting the roof and wall of the upper level and the upper level floor. the dinning room is the floor directly above. Thanks for the reply..
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:27 AM   #4
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


Ok here is the pictures of the back of the house where the proposed french doors are going if possible. Bottom level of the house inside the screened in porch, would be taking out the door and window and replacing with french style doors with possible side lites. This Bi-level house is built with a steel I-Beam running completely through the center of the structure with joists resting on it. Thanks again for any advice.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:48 PM   #5
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


This is now trickier because you have a deck ledger bearing weight on that wall as well, but it's not impossible to overcome.

I myself own a 70's bi-level. I have a little project I want to do this summer, and it's similar. Back of my house is set up like yours, except the following: no rear pass thru door to the garage, I have a master bedroom addition on top of the garage with a deck off that, and the left side of my house has a slab-level addition poking perpendicular outwards. I have the same door and window you have under your deck, but my bathroom window is much closer to the door. Where my addition juts out is where our similarity exists. The prior owner built this nice addition with a great little bar room (14x18, vaulted clg) with glass doors on two sides of the room, and a roofed-over patio (18x18, vaulted clg) past that. But the wall between the original house and the bar is separated by the dang original sliding door. I'm getting rid of that this summer. I'm a licensed engineer and contractor, so I know what I need to do to replace the slider with french doors, and how to frame the larger opening.

Your case differs because of the deck. You're going to need to jack both the joists on the interior, and the deck joists, to take the load off that wall. (I'm assuming you're going to do something along the lines of centering the new doors under the deck, so the opening wouldn't exactly start at the left edge of the door, nor end at the right side of that window.) That's by no means building a space shuttle, but it is involved. Two of my guys could support that and frame out the opening in a day, easy. To answer your question about the headers and studs, first I'd need to know how big of a rough opening you need for your doors. Second, I don't see how you're going to do this with standard lumber, unless you know for sure how much room you have from the bottom of your original joists to the underside of the rough opening you need for the doors.

You have some homework to do before you tackle this. Find out how much room you have, what the existing framing members are, etc. You should be able to find the required member sizes in your code book. I have mine, and they're in there for what I want to do. Best thing to do is research your local codes, sketch it out, make notations where you got the member sizes from in the code, make notations on the type and number of fasteners you dug from the code, take it to the building department when you get your permit, and run it by the building code official. He may very well require a licensed engineer's seal on the plans. I do both the construction and engineered plans for a living, and that's how it's best handled. You can absolutely DIY, but do it right: go to the town with what you researched, and see what else they may require.

To recap:
1. Find out what your local code is (IRC, IBC, etc).
2. Research the size of the rough opening you need from the door mfg.
3. Research the size of the standard wood members you'd need for the opening, per your code, plus the number of jack studs, etc. Also dope out the fasteners required.
4. Sketch that out and bring it to the town to get the permit, and talk to the code official. Let him know what you want, and see if your plan passes muster. If he requires an engineer's seal, find someone local to help you.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:21 PM   #6
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


Definitely follow the Engineers' advice, But I'll give you an example of a support scenario the Architect gave me on plans for the kitchen addition on LI, NY.
The house is a full two story brick colonial with a slate roof. I opened the rear of the house 14 feet wide to accommodate the addition. The Architect specified a double 2x10 LVL and a 1/4" lintel for the bricks to be bolted through the lvl's. The 1/2" bolts were staggered every 16" in a "W" pattern. I modified the header by adding a 1/2" steel flitch plate the entire length and bolted a 3/8" lintel to the lvl's instead of the 1/4" The header was supported on both sides with a 4" concrete filled lolly column bolted to the 12" wide foundation.
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:59 PM   #7
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Installing french doors in a load bearing wall


I appreciate your help with the advice you guy's have given me. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am struggling to make a decision on hiring this done or taking the dIY route. I have alway's done my own work and have learned to trust it. I just am not sure about load bearing wall requirments. I am afraid if I hire this done I will have learned so much from people like you that I will recognize fault in the techniques of the local so called "contractors" we have in our area. I live in such a rural part of Michigan I could probably build an entire home out here and no state inspector or anyone else would ever know. I have built interior additions, changed electrical systems, moved plumbing, built new drain systems and built bathrooms in previous homes I have owned and never was questioned once by anyone even when selling the property. I will take your advice and have a builder/ engineer confirm the correct support header system to build and go for it. I highly doubt I will let a building inspector get envolved. The last time I had contact with an inspector was when I had a new 5 inch well put in and when he came to inspect it he made me remove my frost free water spigot by my garden that had been there since 1978 when the house was built. He said it could possibly contaminate my well. LOL My well is 75 yards away from that spigot and is 105 ft deep. ( he never looked at the well system at all) After the well company new the inspector was not comming back he returned and re-installed the frost free spigot and told me it was all BS and he does the same for everyone who has the system. I surely welcome advice from people with hands on building experience and engineering backgrounds, like you.... Thanks again,

John

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