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Framing a new header for closet opening

25066 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Tizzer
I'm in the process of updating my bedroom, right now targeting the closet. The closet doors are the bifold sliding kind, which considering the space makes the most sense. The current doors, however, are the awful, loud, aluminum kind from the 1970's and need to go.

The current doors are also floor-to-ceiling, meaning there's no header over the closet. The ceilings are 90" high, but the standard closet doors currently sold are 80" tall. I would prefer to go with standard doors than purchase custom doors to fit the floor-to-ceiling gap. So basically I need to build a 10" header over the door.

To give some other dimensions ... the room width is 136", with the closet opening being 96" and then a there are two 20" wide walls on each side of the closet opening.

My initial thought was to just build a basic frame ... use 2x4s, have a 96" top plate and bottom plate, with studs every 16" that are 6.25" tall (10" minus the two 2x4s and the 0.75" pine trim board). Then take that frame and nail (or screw) it to the ceiling and along the inside walls. Then add drywall, add molding, and paint. So I know roughly how to do this, but this will be my first undertaking of anything like framing a wall. So I have a couple of questions:

1) Biggest one - will the ceiling and current closet walls be able to support the weight of this? I'm concerned that with the 2x4s and drywall, this structure will be very heavy and could potentially fall if not attached right. If it won't support the weight, how do I correct this, preferably without tearing down the current walls.
2) What nails or screws should I use? I was planning on 16D nails to build the frame, but what nails/screws for attaching the frame to the ceiling and walls?
3) Should I remove the corner bead currently on the walls? Will the drywall I add to the header look flush along the current drywall for the walls if I dont?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Welcome jmai14, to the best darn DIY'r site on the web.

As your first project you have selected one with realitive ease. The first thing I would look for is, are the ceiling joist running perpendicular to the header you want to build or parallel. If perpendicular it is a matter of locating the joist and once your header is built you can fasten it to the ceiling joist and the verticals on either side of the closet.

I like to use 3" screws when fastening to existing joist, and 16D will be fine for the framing.

I would cut back the drywall on either vertical (sides of the existing closet) and then set your frame even with the wall studs. This will ensure the new drywall is aligned with the existing walls. When you remove the drywall there is a good chance there will be a metal corner bead that will have to be cut at the finished height of the header.

You will need to install some corner bead on the horizontal of the new header drywall.

I think thats about it, select the color of paint, prime the new drywall with sealer, add color and open a beer.

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Sounds like you have a good plan for the header framing.

The header and finish material won't be as heavy as you think, though it is important to get it properly attached. Ideally, you'd want to transfer the dead weight of the header to the floor with a jack stud at each end of the header. If you happen to have two studs together at the end of each of the side walls, you could cut the outer one down to be a jack stud and make the header 3" longer.

But if you only have one stud at the end of the wall and you aren't planning on reducing the size of the opening, you'd have to tear a portion of the drywall off and move the jamb stud back an 1 1/2" into the side walls and add the shorter jack stud in its place.

Do you know if the ceiling joists run perpendicular to the opening or parallel to it?

If the ceiling joists run perpendicular to the opening, then you can attach the header to each of the ceiling joists and at the side walls, and you'd probably be okay without jack studs. 16d sinkers are great for the header framing and would be fine for attachment to the side walls. I would consider some 3" wood screws for attaching into the ceiling joists to minimize the chance of pull-out due to gravity.

If the ceiling joists run parallel and don't align right over the opening, there may be nothing to attach to at the ceiling, making jack studs or the side wall attachment more critical. In lieu of the jack studs, a stiff angle bracket under each end of the header and attached to the jamb stud would be an alternate solution.

I would definitely remove the corner bead, at least for the width of the header. There is often a build-up of joint compound over the corner bead and you'd probably end up with a bit of a hump or bulge at each end of the header if you leave the corner bead on.
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Thanks for the replies and great advice. To answer a question from both of you, I believe the ceiling joists are parallel to the closet opening.

I say "I believe" because I'm not 100% sure. The ceiling has textured paint, so I'm having difficulty getting a good reading with a stud finder. And the insulation in the attic is thick and makes it difficult to be sure, but it looks like they run parallel. The roof rafters are definitely parallel to the closet opening. Question ... are the rafters always the same location as the ceiling joists?
The ceiling joists should be running in the same direction as the roof rafters - they work to tie the bottoms of the rafters together to prevent outward thrust.

If you can temporarily remove the ceiling insulation in the joist space over the proposed header, you could install blocking at 24" on center between the ceiling joists to have solid wood to tie in the header. Depending on the space in your attic this may be more of a job than removing a portion of the wall to add jack studs. And I think it's almost necessary to have something in the ceiling to tie the header into. As long as it is, you'll need a few points to attach it at the ceiling to keep it straight and keep it from bouncing/moving when attaching and finishing the drywall.
Thanks again for the response. I went up into the attic again to be sure. The ceiling joists are definitely parallel to the closet opening. However, luckily, there is a joist that runs right along the opening itself. Do you think screwing the frame into that would be sufficient to support the weight?
It should be fine. Plus you're screwing the end studs into the existing wall to carry some of the weight. Being how your studs are only 6",you can put them on 24" centers to save a few ounces of weight.
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