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Old 12-26-2011, 11:09 PM   #1
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Need help choosing header.


I have a wall that has been gutted and it previously had two doorways. The wall is load bearing. I'd like to remove some of the studs to be able to install two pocket doors. The two doors removed were not holding the joists above them, so when I removed them the space I'm left with is similar to the one in the drawing. The grey area in the drawing represents the size of the two doorways I need. Each doorway needs to be 72 inches wide. There will be a wall in the middle dividing the two rooms, so I can install a 2 x 4 stud in the middle to support the joist in the center and the header/s. There're 1 x 8 planks on top of the joists and the roof on the planks. The actual joists size is 2 x 7.5 and they go through the entire width of the house. The house is 20 feet wide. I'd like to get some opinions from the pros on what I need to do to remove the studs. Any help will be really appreciated.
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Last edited by Chico13; 12-27-2011 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:23 PM   #2
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Need help choosing header.


It looks from your drawing that you need to support three joists temporarily while you reframe the wall. You can support each joist with an upright 2x4 post standing on a 2x8 board lying across the floor (this 2x8 will spread the weight of the ceiling joist over several floor joists).

For a 72" span, I would use a 4x8 header or 2-2x8s with 1/2 plywood
sandwiched in between (to get your 3 1/2" thickness).

(If someone might knock down the temporary posts while you're working on the old wall, you might want to support the joists instead with temporay walls made out of 3 studs and 2 plates each, about a foot away from the old wall.)


Last edited by abracaboom; 12-27-2011 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:20 PM   #3
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Need help choosing header.


Your plans seem to me to have at least 12' of floor above that needs to be properly supported. One 2x4 in the middle of an appropriately sized header (that needs to be determined properly, i.e., an engineer or someone similar who will stamp your plans for the building permit needed) will likely not be enough regardless of a 2x8 on the floor distributing the load (which I'm not sure it does very well). The other ends of the header will also need to be properly supported by the right-sized posts. I'd wait for more opinions on this before proceeding.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:40 PM   #4
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Your plans seem to me to have at least 12' of floor above that needs to be properly supported. One 2x4 in the middle of an appropriately sized header (that needs to be determined properly, i.e., an engineer or someone similar who will stamp your plans for the building permit needed) will likely not be enough regardless of a 2x8 on the floor distributing the load (which I'm not sure it does very well). The other ends of the header will also need to be properly supported by the right-sized posts. I'd wait for more opinions on this before proceeding.
Most load-bearing walls in houses are built with 2x4 studs (new 2x6 exterior walls are thicker for insulation, not structural, purposes). Of course a temporary 2x4 will hold the weight on each joist with strength to spare (located as close to the existing wall being worked on as practical).

Building permits don't require you to show how you are going to support your floors temporarily, only what size headers you are going to use in the end. If you specify 4x8s and the building official doesn't agree (no reason why they wouldn't), they will let you know what size they want without having to spend money on an engineer.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:09 PM   #5
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From your drawing it looks like there is no existing header supporting the three joists in the middle? I assume that is not correct.

If not then it looks like you need to support a total of seven joists before reconfiguring the studs. To answer your question directly I would build a temporary wall on each side of the wall being altered, 2' away on each side to give you room to work between. I would double up on your 2x4s in the wall right under the header in the middle for a nominal 4x4 for the simple fact that 2x4s are cheap.

As far as the header size goes, I'm fairly certain that you'd be fine with sistered 2x8s, given the configuration your replacing and the fact that you have only roof above but I ain't no engineer and my advice is worth what you're paying for it.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:15 PM   #6
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Thanks everybody for the replies. The 3 joists in the middle did not have any support when I removed the doorways, I will install a 2 x 4 plate to support those joists. I was planning on installing 2 x 12's, but I guess that's an overkill. Anymore advise will be appreciated.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:40 PM   #7
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I find it interesting that you got detailed design specs for your project off this forum, yet we don't know where you live, what code you are required to build to, what the roof and floor loads are, or even how much tributary area your header needs to support. If someone asked me to design a header, I would need to know all of that. In checking back through the posts, I am not even certain how many stories the structure is.

I am not going to repeat my posts where I outlined in some detail the process required to size a header, you can do a search through this forum and find it. I will say that sizing a header requires careful analysis of all possible loads, and with the limited information provided, no one on this forum can claim to know enough to tell you what size header you need.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:54 PM   #8
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I find it interesting that you got detailed design specs for your project off this forum, yet we don't know where you live, what code you are required to build to, what the roof and floor loads are, or even how much tributary area your header needs to support. If someone asked me to design a header, I would need to know all of that. In checking back through the posts, I am not even certain how many stories the structure is.

I am not going to repeat my posts where I outlined in some detail the process required to size a header, you can do a search through this forum and find it. I will say that sizing a header requires careful analysis of all possible loads, and with the limited information provided, no one on this forum can claim to know enough to tell you what size header you need.
Daniel,
Based on your post it seems like it won't be possible for me to do this project. I don't have the needed information. I don't know what the floor and roof loads are. The house is a two story brick construction in NYC. I guess I'm going to have to get an engineer.
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Old 12-27-2011, 04:05 PM   #9
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Of course you can do the project, you simply need to determine the loads and the tributary area to properly size the header. Usually loads are code driven, for example International Building Code specifies 40 psf live load for most room loads. Other codes specify different amounts. In certain cases, the actual load exceeds the code mandated load, in which case you need to use the actual load (example you have a heavy cast iron tub in the middle of the floor, this imposes a point load that needs to be accounted for).

Given that you are in New York City, there is probably a local code that you need to adhere to, which may require heavier design loads than IBC. As in the design of ALL headers, it is essential to know the required loads you need to support.
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Old 12-27-2011, 04:50 PM   #10
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I don't want to discourage you from hiring an engineer, but I don't see how you would need one for a 20-foot-wide house.

What is above those ceiling joists you need to support, a flat roof? It would be a good idea to find out what's the estimated load on a flat roof in NY before sizing your header (and don't do the job with three feet of snow on your roof).


I see now that you have to support seven joists temporarily, not three. If the joists run full length from exterior wall to exterior wall, you only need one temporary wall on either side to support them. If they are made from two pieces joined above the wall you're working on, it would be safer to support both sides.

Last edited by abracaboom; 12-27-2011 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:29 PM   #11
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I'm no engineer, but, personally I don't like those ceiling joists not setting directly over the wall studs

if it were me, I'd like that stud on the right of your opening out. back to the next stud, since you have the height? I'd like 2x10's or even 2x12's with 1/2 sandwiched between as a header resting on 3 jack studs each side. then double jamb studs on both sides.

this would give you a stronger header and still carrying only 3 joists
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Last edited by coupe; 12-27-2011 at 05:30 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:07 PM   #12
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I'm no engineer, or even a very good carpenter. But, assuming 8' ceilings, a doubled 2x12 (with a 1/2" ply spacer) gets you right down from the top plate to the rough opening. So why mess with cripples? The wall in the middle will have more than one 2x4 at that point supporting the middle of the header.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:15 PM   #13
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Is that an accurate illustration? The single top plate with the studs not directly under the joist would indicate that this is a non-bearing wall.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:50 PM   #14
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Is that an accurate illustration? The single top plate with the studs not directly under the joist would indicate that this is a non-bearing wall.
Yes, it is an accurate illustration. The wall is 7 feet from the outside wall and there were two doorways in that opening with no joist support.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:52 PM   #15
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I don't want to discourage you from hiring an engineer, but I don't see how you would need one for a 20-foot-wide house.

What is above those ceiling joists you need to support, a flat roof? It would be a good idea to find out what's the estimated load on a flat roof in NY before sizing your header (and don't do the job with three feet of snow on your roof).


I see now that you have to support seven joists temporarily, not three. If the joists run full length from exterior wall to exterior wall, you only need one temporary wall on either side to support them. If they are made from two pieces joined above the wall you're working on, it would be safer to support both sides.
There's a flat roof on the top plate and the joists run full length.

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