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Old 09-12-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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I am opening up a wall between my kitchen and dining room to create a breakfast bar. I am trying to determine the # of beams I need to put in supported by 2x6' posts. I am probably going to do triple 2x12's.

The span will be 105" and the beams on top that it will be supporting are 13 ft long on each side, and there is currently an attic above it. .

I have been reading alot on here about LVL beams. What is great about them? It seems you don't gain alot of height from them, or are they just that much stronger than regular beams?
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:44 AM   #2
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There is more to doing a project like this than just finding out what the proper sized header is to use.

For example, is this area of the interior wall possibly a Braced Wall Panel? It may have a 1x6 let-in brace in the wall when you open it up, or that section of the wall may be a Braced Wall Panel using gypsum board as the bracing. Either way you may be compromising the integrity of the bracing design by opening it up.

See if you can find any of the original plans for the house and maybe have a person in-the-know (Engineer, designer or competent contractor) take a look at them or the house.

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Old 09-12-2012, 11:57 AM   #3
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Andy thanks for the information. How would I determine if its a braced wall panel, or has let in bracing? I can see the ceiling framing from above in the attic, if it is able to be determined from there?

The house was built in 1950, to my knowledge there are no plans available.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:59 AM   #4
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I'm assuming that could also be determined once the drywall/plaster is removed?
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:06 PM   #5
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There is just too much to determining something like this to write in a DIY forum.
Something you could look for is if the ceiling framing breaks over the wall in question. That would go far to determining if it is at least a bearing wall.
If so then quite possibly it is also a braced wall. That would take an analysis of the structure as a whole, making as-built plans, maybe opening up the wall to see what is in there and getting permits.
I know it sounds like a lot of crap to go through just for a simple opening in an interior wall but it is important.

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Old 09-12-2012, 12:21 PM   #6
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Andy is right, a lot goes into doing this correctly.

of course some will say cut your opening and just put a beam in. ask yourself, where will the loads on the end of the beam go? down to the floor? your floor was not designed to carry that load so now you have issues with the floor. Header beams must transfer their loads down to the foundation or solid undisturbed ground capable of supporting those loads. this may require construction of footings (size for loads based upon soil bearing capacity) and columns from the footing to the beam.

typically (I say this with caution) walls that are perpendicular to floor joists and attic/ceiling joists are load bearing, especially if the attic/ceiling joists are lapped over the wall. Usually there will be a beam in the basement directly below a load bearing wall. Yes, there are cases where they are not. Knowledgeable eyes on the site is the best way to determine what is and is not load bearing, and how to determine the proper course of action to take for what you want to do.

Didn't tell you what you wanted to know, but what you need to know.
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:38 PM   #7
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Gary thanks for your input.

Underneath that wall is in the basement is a metal I beam with with 1 metal pole in the middle, the ends of the I-beam go into block walls.

I called the building inspector just now, and they didn't have much to say other than the best way to go would be to get an LVL beam if its over 6' 11 inches.

The inspector seemed to think it wasn't carrying a floor load or roof load based on my description and said we could almost put nominal lumber up there, but I would not be comfortable with that, especially if the attic gets filled up with "junk"
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:45 PM   #8
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what about your attic/ceiling joists? are they lapped over the wall?
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:47 PM   #9
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typically (I say this with caution) walls that are perpendicular to floor joists and attic/ceiling joists are load bearing, especially if the attic/ceiling joists are lapped over the wall. Usually there will be a beam in the basement directly below a load bearing wall. Yes, there are cases where they are not. Knowledgeable eyes on the site is the best way to determine what is and is not load bearing, and how to determine the proper course of action to take for what you want to do.

Didn't tell you what you wanted to know, but what you need to know.
Have seen many times when this is not the case, probably truer in newer homes.
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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my Rule of Thumb, "All walls are load bearing until proven otherwise" .... that's why it is difficult for members of an online forum to determine, it normally requires "eyes on the site" to observe all existing conditions (including those that are hidden by finishes) and determine load paths.

I agree mae-ling, not all walls that typically would appear to be load bearing are.

We all get fooled from time to time until finishes are removed and the actual framing is exposed. Old buildings can be fun. Sometimes you find situations that make you stop and wonder why it's still standing.
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:19 PM   #11
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Headers installed when walls are removed are typically designed based on the actual loads they accept. Headers for doors are commonly designed based on rules of thumb (so many inches of depth for each foot of opening). In your case, you should plan to design the header based on the a actual loads imposed. It sounds like your header is going to support attic joists, although that is not entirely clear from your post.

The advantage of LVL versus sawn lumber is that LVL is typically stronger for a given size of beam, since the lumber is more carefully selected, and the glue used is very strong. It may not be cost effective to use LVL, depends on the load. You may be able to shave depth versus a sawn lumber header, which may be important if you have low ceiling height. Steel is another option, you can often save several inches in depth, and it may not be any more expensive than LVL (the header I put in for the opening from my kitchen to the dining room spanned about 11 feet, and I used a steel S shape to save depth).

I am not surprised that the building inspector did not design or specify the beam, that is not their job. In some cases, you can get a design from a local lumberyard if you purchase an LVL from them, they roll the cost of design into the LVL. Very hard to get a steel yard to size a beam for you, they usually just cut the steel and you can pick it up.
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:21 PM   #12
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Are you trying for a so-called cased opening that would be about 8 to 9 ft?
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Old 09-14-2012, 06:00 PM   #13
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Old buildings can be fun. Sometimes you find situations that make you stop and wonder why it's still standing.
Off topic, but that's my house right now. Turns out it was the lathe and plaster that was holding up several of the interior walls. They fell over when the bulk of the lathe was removed!

And I had one outside wall that was being *suspended* by the stucco, it had lost all connection to the foundation along a 20 foot stretch. When we cut the stucco free of the rim, the house dropped an inch!

Oh yeah, good times...

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