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Old 02-25-2008, 08:51 PM   #1
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Raising Doorway Height (load bearing?)


Hello All,

Below is the beginning of my post + threads from another forum. If you can, check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks.

Raising Doorway height (load-bearing)

Hello,

After having searched a number of forums, I have decided to post here because I did not find my specific question. I think I know the answer to it, but I am hoping that I am NOT correct.

I live in a 50's Cape Cod and I am adding a wall perpendicular to what I believe is a load-bearing wall. Currently, there is a doorway located in this loadbearing wall. I would like to make a smooth transition to into the area where I will be erecting the perpendicular wall and, therefore, I would like to remove the doorway by raising the height of the opening so that it is flush with the ceiling. Does that make sense to you?

I have knocked a hole in the wall above the doorway and have found that there looks to be (2) two 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's (headers?) laying flat above the doorway. There are also cripple? studs connected to them. The opening is a standard 30" wide.

I am assuming that I cannot just take out the headers and cripple studs and assume that the load will transfer to the surrounding king? studs?

Should I just live with the fact that there will be a doorway (with no door) that will break up the transition from one hallway to the next hallway? (new perpendicular wall).

Thanks for your advice,

Chris


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If the framing members are laying flat, it's not a header.


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Additional info from treefrog

Hello all,

I have some additional information about the wall in question.
I am now not so sure that it is load-bearing. The wall with the doorway runs PARALLEL with the Ceiling and floor joists. However, below this wall (in the basement) are double joists. Do the double joists indicate a possible load-bearing wall? Does a load-bearing wall have to run perpendicular to the joists?

Thank you,

Chris


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It would become MORE loadbearing if the ceiling joists crossed that wall, placing the load of the ceiling onto that wall.

But if say the wall ran parallel to the basement ceiling joists, as you say - the finished wall is not AS loadbearing, by virtue of the wall being skinned with sheetrock or plaster, which will try to fight the forces, and retain it's shape. Albeit, over time, the wall will try to sag, especially if there is a door, bifolds, or some other break in that wall, that cut into the 8 foot height.

Imagine this: You build a basement. Then you decide to span the width of the basement, across the top block on each side, with a skeletal stud wall. What will happen? The wall will sag. But, if you temporarily braced the underside of that wall, while you sheeted over both sides with sheetrock, overlapping the sheetrock as to not create 8 foot butt joints, then pulled out the temporary post, the wall would not suddenly sag - especailly if you used say adhesive on the studs first. And, in theory, just so you envision this, if you were to instead sheet both sides of the wall with plywood and glue and run screws into each stud, every 6 inches, then the wall would probably not sag, once you removed the temporary post.

Now if the ceiling joists cross that wall, that will hasten the sagging. It would be quite loadbearing in this case.

............

Note that I am not an architect. My experiences are based on years of construction, observation, and common sense.


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A wall running parallel to joists would not be loadbearing unless, for some odd reason, you see the end of a joist header sitting on top of the wall. This header would be perpendicular to the wall ( and the joists), made of at least 2 pieces of joist material nailed side by side, and installed usually to allow for some sort of hole: staircase, heat duct, etc.. Not likely by a doorway. The double joists below are just good building practice and do not make the wall a brg wall.

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Old 02-25-2008, 09:02 PM   #2
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Raising Doorway Height (load bearing?)



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A wall running parallel to joists would not be loadbearing unless, for some odd reason, you see the end of a joist header sitting on top of the wall. This header would be perpendicular to the wall ( and the joists), made of at least 2 pieces of joist material nailed side by side, and installed usually to allow for some sort of hole: staircase, heat duct, etc.. Not likely by a doorway. The double joists below are just good building practice and do not make the wall a brg wall.

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have to admit...
Ecman51, I had to read your reply a few times! You have quite-the-way of getting your point across.

I am somewhat confused about why you added the drywall/plaster into the discussion, but nevertheless, I THINK I understand what you are trying to get me to understand. How
loadbearing a wall is depends on the orientation of the ceiling joists and plaster/drywall can also add rigidity to a wall (in addition to the studs).

The Wall in question is on the first floor of a 1.5 story Cape Cod. The ceiling joists do not cross this wall (meaning run perpendicular) to my knowledge. My knowledge is based on a hole that I cut in the ceiling adjacent to the Wall. I determined that the ceiling joists run parallel to the wall. I am not, however, sure if a ceiling joist rests directly on top of this Wall because the hole I cut in the ceiling was not directly next to the wall. The roof ridge line runs perpendicular to this Wall, leading me to believe that this in not a
loadbearing wall.

There IS a center wall that runs directly under (parallel) to the roof ridge line (perpendicular to the ceiling joists). This center wall runs MOST of the length of the first floor and I assume it is a
loadbearing wall due to the information that I just given and also because there is a large beam underneath it in the basement where lollie? columns are attached.

Back to the Wall in question:

If one of the parallel running ceilng joists lies directly on top of this Wall, could the wall be
loadbearing?

Real Question:

With all this information, should I be concerned about taking out the 8" above the existing doorway in this Wall? I am getting the impression, as I search, that this Wall is not
loadbearing and that I should not be concerned about raising the height of this doorway.

Thanks for reading,

Chris


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Thank you for your reply...
stpami,

Your info sets me at ease for the moment. I guess, to be sure, I will remove all plaster and the pain-in-the @@$% metal plaster braces to see if there is the butt end of a joist running perpendicular to this wall. Since the hallway is above this doorway on the second floor, I am led to believe that it is possible that this doorway could be supporting it.

Would I be correct in this assumption?

From what I have read, walls that do not run perpendicular to ceiling joists are, generally. not
loadbearing. Your scenario presents one possibility of this being a loadbearing wall. The other, I have found, is if the wall is hiding some structure post. Since I am not talking about removing the entire wall, and the area is a doorway, I don't think the "structural post" scenario would apply.

Thanks


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Old 02-25-2008, 09:03 PM   #3
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Which way do the upstairs hallway walls run, in relation to the wall below, that you want to remove?

I am guessing that hallwall crosses the joists, and will give an explanation (opinion) accordingly:

If this is the case, you would be getting into a possible gray area. In essence, your wall you want to remove is not totally
loadbearing in the normal sense, where say the entire run of the weight above is all transfering down across the top of the cross wall below. (But continue to read on, as there are scenarios which may cause that wall you want to remove, to be actually more loadbearing than what may initially appear to be, when everything is thought thru.)

But in the theory regarding your hall wall, the entire weight of the entire run of hall is not being only held up by that cross wall below. Every cross joist below is shouldering some of that weight (unlike the scenario above with a true
loadbearing wall). In theory, the weight of the hall wall up there COULD BE causing a slight sag to all the other lower ceiling joists. Such a sag woud likely be reduced some if that wall below were left in place, since the wall you want to remove would be helping shoulder SOME of that weight. And more or less depending on if and where there might be breaks in that hallway wall above (such as doorways in that hallwall).

And THEN there is the issue of if the ceiling joists (part of the roof truss system) above the upstairs hallwall are adding
load to the hallway walls, or not, which then in turn are adding more weight to ALL the cross ceiling joists below. Depending on the framing type of the roof truss system, even if the joists of the trusses crossed the hallway wall, they might not be loadbearing if they are clear span factory engineered. But if the roof rafter and joist system was built on site and especially if the joist parts were cut and overlapped across the top of the hallwalls, then the hallway ceiling COULD BE adding to the weight of the hallwall walls, which then would transfer all the way down to the first floor ceiling joists. But even if the handbuilt joists are full span, depending on how well they engineered the entire roof framing structure, with W-type bracing, the weight of the second story ceiling COULD still be applying more weight to the upstairs hallwalls.

I hope you are not getting confused. (*I* can actually envision what I am saying)

My opinions are based on a common sense knowledge of being around framing construction. But you may want to seek further advice in the architectural forum here and may bring up or refer them here to this thread to see if they concur with things I have said.

If the joist directions are as I stated that I think they are, right on up to the roof joists (unless you say otherwise), I am of the opinion that removing that wall, without at least puting in a cross beam, would not be a good idea. There would be no sudden collapse. But I could foresee an immediate sag occur, to some extent or another, and more so over time


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Thanks for your reply ecman51
Q. Which way do the upstairs hallway walls run, in relation to the wall below, that you want to remove?

A. Perpendicular to the Wall in Question

Statement: In essence, your wall you want to remove is not totally
loadbearing in the normal sense, where say the entire run of the weight above is all transfering down across the top of the cross wall below. Such a sag woud likely be reduced some if that wall below were left in place, since the wall you want to remove would be helping shoulder SOME of that weight.

Comment: I am not looking to remove the entire wall (if that is what you mean). I would like to remove only the 10" above and existing doorway on that wall. Does this change things?

Statement: And more or less depending on if and where there might be breaks in that hallway wall above (such as doorways in that hallwall).

Comment: There is a doorway into a bedroom that is located indirectly above the opening that I want to modify on the Wall in Question. I say indirectly because it is located about the width of a span of ceiling joists over from the 1st floor doorway (the upstairs doorway is not above the downstairs doorway).

Statement: Depending on the framing type of the roof truss system...

Comment: The roof framing is that of rafters. Does the fact that this is a Cape Cod style home built in the 50's mean that there was a standard method of framing these homes? The layout seems to be a typical Cape Cod style. I say this because I was raised in a Cape Cod style home built in the 70's and the layout is fairly similar. For instance, there is a center stairway in the house and two adjacent walls on the first level. There is then the wall that runs perpendicular to the stairs and ceiling joists (this is definitely a
load bearing wall by definition.) The upstairs on both homes consist of two bedrooms with a hallway in-between oriented in the way I have described above. If there was a standard method for framing a "rafter Cape Cod," is there a way to determine whether the Wall in Question would sag or collapse if I extracted 10" from the top of an existing doorway?

Statement: But if the roof rafter and joist system was built on site and especially if the joist parts were cut and overlapped across the top of the hallwalls, then the hallway ceiling COULD BE adding to the weight of the hallwall walls, which then would transfer all the way down to the first floor ceiling joists.

Comment: OK. This is what I was concerned about in an earlier post. I thought that maybe a ceiling joist was layed (overlapped) directly over the Wall in Question. If that were the case, I would think there was cause for concern. It sounds like I should cut into the ceiling above the Wall in Question to see if there is a ceiling joist laying directly above this wall.

Statement: But even if the handbuilt joists are full span, depending on how well they engineered the entire roof framing structure, with W-type bracing, the weight of the second story ceiling COULD still be applying more weight to the upstairs hallwalls.

Comment: UUGGHH. If I determined that a ceiling joist was NOT overlapping the Wall in Question, it would seem that I would not have to worry about the wall
bearing load. Would this be a correct assumption?

Statement: I hope you are not getting confused. (*I* can actually envision what I am saying)

Comment: I THINK I am envisioning what you are saying too.


Statement: If the joist directions are as I stated that I think they are, right on up to the roof joists (unless you say otherwise), I am of the opinion that removing that wall, without at least puting in a cross beam, would not be a good idea. There would be no sudden collapse. But I could foresee an immediate sag occur, to some extent or another, and more so over time

Comment: I just went into the crawl space and determined that the ceiling joists run parallel to the roof rafters and are nailed into the roof rafters over what appears to be the top of front and rear outside walls of the house.

Thanks so much for your input and I will begin a post in the Architectural section.

-Chris

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Old 02-25-2008, 09:04 PM   #4
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Raising Doorway Height (load bearing?)



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Okay. Cape Cod. 1/2 story house. Limited upstairs attic room (with or without dormers)basically because the walls running the length of the house in the attic-upstairs have to be in, for head clearance sake, say 6 feet on each side. Not a truss roof design. Simply rafters with collar ties that are horiziontal 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's that become your ceiling joists for the upstairs. Lacks that W-type bracing to strengthen the roof framing, to truss-like status.

However, Cape Cod roofs are strong without all that additional bracing, by virtue of the roof pitch being steeper than say a ranch-style home. Without looking it up, the roof pitch is going to be 12/12 or greater as compared to say a ranch house that could vary from say 3.5/12 to 5/12 + roof pitch. The steeper the roof pitch the lesser the downward forces become, under any conditions, including snowloads - the less the rafter can swag in the middle under
load, and the exerting downward forces cannot try to bulge out the side walls, like it could with a ranch-type gable roof that really DOES have to rely on that web of bracing between each rafter and joist. But this is for the roof.

Regarding the floor of that attic-upstairs - because a web of tie-bracing does not exist between the rafter and the floor joists that you are standing on up there, that means any
load to that floor up there will be transfered downward, because the roof rafters cannot help hold up the upstairs floor joists.

The fact you have that hall wall up there is directly applying pressure to the joists without any support help from the roof. The only help is in the stoutness of each floor joist and by that cross wall you want to remove.

HOWEVER, imaging a Cape Cod right now, you may have a kitchen wall, that say is about or exactly under the one side of the hall wall, and a living room wall under the other side of the hallwall? Obviously then, this would change things. I almost now have to go and do a lot of rereading of your post now that you say this is Cape Cod, so I can better envision all what has been said.

Make a framing sketch of your house, if you have the rudimentary skill to do so, and you wil readily see what you are dealing with.

Coincidently, just this morning I was reviewing some of my drawings - I was showing someone all the house and addition drawing sketches I have made and kept over the years - where I drew sketches and made modifications to a blueprinted A-frame I built about 25 years ago, where the beams were overlapped and bolted and flew through the decks that cantelevered out through the roof (walk-around two level decks) and were bolted to concrete piers on the ground. A fun, mentally challenging project for me at that point in my life. 22.5/12 roof pitch - still remember that. I redesigned 1/2 of the length of the house and flitch-plate beamed about a 12 foot or more span to carry 3 dormers I personally drew out on paper and added up there to give homeowner a 2nd bathroom upstairs + dormers in both bedrooms.


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Originally Posted by treefrog
Quote:
I live in a 50's Cape Cod and I am adding a wall perpendicular to what I believe is a load-bearing wall. Currently, there is a doorway located in this loadbearing wall. I would like to make a smooth transition to into the area where I will be erecting the perpendicular wall and, therefore, I would like to remove the doorway by raising the height of the opening so that it is flush with the ceiling. Does that make sense to you?
Could you describe the layout of the first floor and explain exactly where this perpendicular wall is being added and what exactly is being knocked out? Anything so we can picture the whole thing better.

I'll give you an example by describing the 1 1/2 story house I described in my previous post:

From one end of the house to the other, the long ways: You enter the house's side entry door in the exact center of the house. You are on a landing then where if you go straight, you will be going down the basement steps. Or you can go right - into the kitchen. Over on the left side of the house is the living room. The kitchen and living room would be separated by the basement steps AND the steps to the upstairs that come from the other direction that are directly over the basement steps (typical). Therefore the inner kitchen and inner living room walls are separated by a space of about the width of a hallwway or stairs. Once you are beyond the living room and kitchen, with stairs between, running down the center of the first floor is a hall. You proceed down the hall to two bedrooms; one on the right and one directly across the hall on the left. The bathroom is in between the two at the end of the hall, at the opposite end of the house that the side door you enter at, is. If you turn around and go back down to the other end of the hallway, you have a choice of turning left into the kitchen or turning right into the living room, or proceeding straight thru a door that takes you up the stairs to upstairs. The upstairs of this 1 1/2 story is completely open and has no hallway up there. It is one giant rec room or bedroom.

But there COULD BE a hall down the middle length of that upstairs, if one wanted to put one in, and if there WERE, the walls of that hall would directly be over the inner wall of the living room, the inner wall of the kitchen and the walls of the hallway on the first floor.

Like that.

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Old 02-25-2008, 09:05 PM   #5
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Raising Doorway Height (load bearing?)




Standing outside on the road facing the front of the house:

I will be facing the long side of the Cape (not the width). There is a front door in the center of the house, a "picture" window to the left of the front door and a single window to the right of the front door. The roof ridge line is running parallel to the front of the house and the chimney is approximately in the center of the house.

Walking through the front door:

The staircase to the upstairs is located directly in front of you. To the left is open (not a doorway) to the living room which runs the entire width of the house. (I believe this room was once two rooms and that is exactly what I would like to create once again. I would like to make most of this space into a master bedroom.)About one-third of the way up the stairs (still standing in the front doorway) a wall begins to enclose the left side of the staircase. (more about this wall later). If you look to the right from the front door, there is a wall with an opening to a strange little coat room that contains another doorway into the dining room.

Walking into the living room:

Standing in the living room looking toward the back of the house, there are two windows on the left wall and one window on the back wall (back of house). The wall to the right is against the staircase and encloses two-thirds of the staircase (this is the wall I described above). If you walk to the middle of the living room and turn and face the right (staircase wall) you will be looking a doorway that leads into a hallway (parallel to the roof ridge line). THIS IS THE DOORWAY WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO REMOVE THE UPPER 10". So, to be clear, if you are standing in the living room looking at this doorway, the the left of the doorway, the wall continues to the back of the house and does not contain any openings. To the right of the doorway, the wall continues a few feet and then ends as the stairs appear.

Walking into the downstairs hallway from the living room:

Immediately upon entering the hallway, you would encounter a door on the right to the basement (directly below the staircase to the upstairs). To the right is a doorway leading to a bathroom. Walking to the end of the hallway, there is an arched doorway that leads to the kitchen.

Entering the kitchen:

You enter one end of the kitchen as you exit the hallway (the hallway does not lead into the middle of the kitchen). Looking to the left would be the back of the kitchen and the back of the house. Looking to the right is the dining room. I believe this opening used to be a standard doorway, but a previous owner opened this space up to span almost the entire width of the kitchen/dining room wall. (I am actually concerned about this opening based on some other scary things that a previous owner did to this house. I am nearly positive this wall was quite load bearing and I am noticing a sag in the center of this opening!) Looking across the kitchen to the side of the house is a doorway and a "breakfast nook" opening into an addition which serves as a large family room (this was my first project for which I placed a large number of posts on forums and took the advice of those who responded with similar solutions! The explanation of that debacle would warrant a phone call to you rather than email. I hope framed it correctly!)

Walking into the dining room:

You are now looking at the wall to the front of the house and the kitchen is behind you (back of house). To the left of you is a window to the outside and to the right is a long pantry (nearly the width of the dining room wall). If you walked all the way to the wall in the front of the house and faced right, you would be looking into the doorway that leads to the creepy coat room and finally to the base of the staircase leading to the upstairs. This concludes the downstairs.

Standing at the top of the staircase leading to the upstairs:

You would be in the middle of a hallway running parallel to the roof ridge line and perpendicular to the staircase. Look to the left and there is a doorway to a bedroom (over the living room) and to the right is a doorway leading to a second bedroom (over the kitchen/dining room). There is nor front or rear dormer (a full rear dormer project will begin in MAY, but I am going to have that professionally framed!)

Hope that helps!

Thanks again for your time. I'd like to send you something....wine, beer, subscription to a favorite magazine....something. What do you like?

-Chris

Oops,

I forgot to erase some of your writing at the end of my last post. I did want to respond to this quote though:

Quote:
But there COULD BE a hall down the middle length of that upstairs, if one wanted to put one in, and if there WERE, the walls of that hall would directly be over the inner wall of the living room, the inner wall of the kitchen and the walls of the hallway on the first floor.


The walls that line the upstairs hallway run perpendicular to the inner walls of the living room and kitchen/dining room. This means that the doorways that lead to each bedroom upstairs are not exactly, but close to being directly above the doorways that lead into the living room and kitchen, respectively. In fact if you were standing in the downstairs hallway (that connects the kitchen to the living room), a floated directly above, you would land directly in the upstairs hallway the connects the two bedrooms (which lie on either side of the width of the house). Each halway runs "in-lin" with the roof ridge line, while the inner walls that encase the staircase run perpendicular to the roof ridge line.

The doorway that I would like to modify is the doorway that leads from the living room to the hallway. In fact, what I would like to do is wrap that hallway around so that it continues toward the front of the house. To give a walking description of what I would like to do would be like this:

Standing in the downstairs hallway facing the living room you would have the entrance to the kitchen behind you. The bathroom would be on your right and the door to the basement would be on your left. This may be hard to describe, but I would like to remove the top 10" of the doorway leading into the living room and make the hallway wrap around to the left as you walk through this modified doorway. To do that, I would have to extend the wall a few feet into the existing living room and then create a wall that runs parallel to the existing living room/staircase wall. If this were the case, as you walked through the modified doorway, a new door would be directly in front of you (this would lead to the new master bedroom). Turning to the left, you would walk down a short hallway and the wall that I will have to create will be to the right of you. This wall to the right of you would end at about the same point where the wall to the left of you (existing) ends. This new wall would then wrap around the right and end at the side of the house (width side, not front or back). This would create a small open sitting room or office. In this way, the living room would be split into a small office/sitting room, a master bedroom, and a short hallway that would run perpendicular to the roof ridge line and parallel to the Wall in Question.

Whew! This is crazy.

-Chris
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:36 PM   #6
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:11 PM   #7
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He can't be serious!!

He thinks he knows more than he does or he can't explain anything.

Probably had a price from a contractor and thought he knew better.

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