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Old 10-16-2010, 07:48 AM   #1
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Ridge Beam

I have a studio on my property, the main living space is appox 20x12, built in the 50's all redwood 2x4 construction. I want to convert the flat ceiling to a vaulted ceiling. I was told I could put a larger ridge beam(4x4 or 4x6) underneath the current ridge beam(2x4), the span is 12ft I'd support it with doubled up 2x4s. I plan on leaving the 2x4 rafters alone. Any issues with this?
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Old 10-16-2010, 09:50 AM   #2
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I'd be talking to a structural engineer, the building inspector or an experienced carpenter during an on-site visit to the studio.
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:32 PM   #3
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The ridge beam needs to be made out of two 9.5" LVL's for this span. Alternatively you can install 2x4 collar ties between rafters located below ridge at 1/3 the height from ridge to current ceiling.
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:33 PM   #4
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Don't buy the wood yet, the 4x6 may work as a post, maybe too small. You really need to get this engineered and permitted for a paper trail for your H.O.Insurance carrier in case of a claim or re-sale later as you will be liable, possibly years afterward. The ridge attachment alone requires a S.E. as well as the post size, beam size, and new bearing footings on the earth. As a carpenter with 37 years experience, I wouldn't want the liability involved, legally or morally. An on-site inspection and consultation may be needed, call around.

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Old 10-16-2010, 03:37 PM   #5
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Terminology. What you have is a ridge board, NOT a ridge beam. A ridge board is a framing member installed to allow the carpenter to have something to nail the rafters to. A ridge board provides no structural support to the roof.

A ridge beam is a structural element designed to hold up half the roof. It requires at a minimum adequate vertical supports (posts) on either end, although it may be designed with intermediate posts. It is common to replace a ridge board with an engineered ridge beam when the client wants a vaulted ceiling. The rafters must be properly connected to the ridge beam, which typically requires metal connectors (see Simpson catalog).

Assuming you replace the ridge board with a ridge beam, you need to temporarily support the rafters during the operation, which requires an experienced framing contractor. Typically the rafters have to be cut and fitted with the appropriate connector, then connected to the newly installed ridge beam.

The plan you asked about suggests that you are intending to support the ridge board with an engineered ridge beam, leaving the connections between the rafters and the ridge board in place. I have never seen this done, perhaps someone on this forum with first hand experience can comment. If this is done, you would need to check that the connections between the rafters and the ridge board work correctly, given the presence of a ridge beam below the ridge board.
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