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Old 09-01-2011, 11:34 PM   #1
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Sizing Headers in Older Home


Okay, so I'll admit. I'm not going to be actually putting in new headers.

I'm working on recreating the original blueprints for a '58 ranch home I purchased in California. So far most things have been fairly straightforward to determine, or at least guess with reasonable accuracy as to what was standard practice and materials at the time. But now I'm stumped determining the likely size of the headers.

It's a single story. 2x4 construction. Approximately 26x38, plus attached garage conversion, 26x12. Single story, all hips and no gables. With crawl space and attic access. One load-bearing interior wall spanning length-ways.

The home has the following windows:
(1) 3/0 x 2/6
(1) 2/6 x 3/0
(4) 3/0 x 3/0
(1) 3/9 x 3/0
(1) 3/3 x 4/0
(1) 6/0 x 4/0

My guess would be a 2x6 glue-up with plywood on all but the 6' span. On that span, maybe 2x10s and double the trimmers?

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Old 09-02-2011, 12:08 AM   #2
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Sizing Headers in Older Home


I wouldn't know about California but in Texas back in the 50's, the rule of thumb was to take the width opening in feet to the next largest number and double it. A 3' opening would be a 2x 6, a 4' opening would be a 2x 8, a 5' opening would be a 2x 10, a 6' opening would be a 2x 12. All would have 3/8" ply in the middle for a spacer as the lumber dimension for a 2x 4 was 3 5/8" x 1 5/8". For a few years in the mid 60's, the dimension was 3 9/16" x 1 9/16". Shortly after that, it's now the dimensional size we have today.
Lumber is still bought and old based on the nominal size or in better words, when you buy a 2x 4, you are paying for a 2"x 4" piece of wood but you're only getting 1 1/2'x 3 1/2". The price is in dollars per thousand board feet. The box stores have taken the guess work out of it and sell it by the each. Builder yards are quoting price per thousand but invoice at price per each. In the case of a stud, which many are used in a home, that can mean a few dollars profit more because of the math.
In regards to the trimmers as you call them, you need to check on the local code. California pretty requires seismic anchors at all locations. You'll probably need to use a steel hanger at window openings. At least, that's what's on the stuff we see on plans out of California.

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Last edited by TrapperL; 09-02-2011 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:12 AM   #3
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Sizing Headers in Older Home


Good. That's certainly helpful feedback. I have indeed been drawing the plans with nominal dimensions in mind.

I hadn't considered 2x8 because I don't have any 4' spans. I suppose it would be safer to use on the 3'9 span though. I'll upsize that one.

So then you would think that the 6' span is 2x12s?
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:28 AM   #4
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Sizing Headers in Older Home


Your 3'9" span is a 2x 8 and the 6' span is a 2x12.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:31 AM   #5
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Sizing Headers in Older Home


Wonderful! I'll get started on the corrections. Big thanks.
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