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Framing a patio door in a non-load bearing exterior wall

4085 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Nealtw
I'm planning to replace a window and entry door with a patio door (6'11 tall x 8' wide Andersen gliding patio door) in my home.* The wall the patio door will be installed into runs parallel to the floor joists above and below. the joists for the floor above end at a beam in the ceiling that rests on the wall the patio door will be installed into, but roughly 1ft away from the patio door.
I do not believe the area of the wall that I'm opening up to be load bearing, but the area of the wall under the beam does bear the load of the second floor.* My questions are:*
1.*What do I need to do for a header above the patio door?* I don't believe it to be carrying a load, but I'm planning on using a pair of 2x10's or 2x12's with a 1/2 osb or plywood spacer.* Does that seem like a good solution?
2. Is there anything that I need to do to brace / support the home between removing the current wall and installing the header?* I assume not.**

If it's relevant, the ends of the roof trusses do land on this wall on the second floor (patio door is going in the first floor) but I would assume the rim joist is essentially acting as a header to spread this load.* Also, there is a second floor window directly above the center of the patio door.*

I will upload an image when I get home, I can't access image hosting sites at work.

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All exterior walls should be considered load bearing and the rafters above make it load bearing for sure.

2 2x12s should work fine and if you do it quickly you likely don't have to hold it up.

Easier sometimes is just open the ceiling and put matching LVL beside the rim joist.
The people that sell LVLs might help confirm if that would be sufficient.
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What makes you believe that an outside wall with another story above is not load bearing? You should hire a professional to do all this work. Unless you really want to have the second story of your house sitting on the first floor. You have been watching way too many DIY shows.
Andy, first you're right, the wall is load bearing, every exterior wall is bearing a wind load at the very least, and this wall is bearing the weight of the second story and the roof above it, but the specific area of the wall that I'm concerned with isn't bearing that load. The weight above is born on the rim joist, and that force is transferred to the walls at the ends of that joist.

I'm a mechanical engineer by training, and I have a pretty solid understanding of statics and strength of materials, but my expertise is in product development not structural engineering. I'm not a certified PE, or a professional framer, so I thought there would be way more knowledgeable people on this forum (like Neal) that could offer an opinion and some advice (thanks!). Thank you (Andy) for reminding me that there are also keyboard jockey's who would rather spend their time being an a$$hat than being helpful.

That was a quick reminder of why I quit being an active participant on internet forums.
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The weight above is born on the rim joist, and that force is transferred to the walls at the ends of that joist.

You do want to be careful with that thinking. If you did count on the single rim, even if it is structurally strong enough. Often they are placed flush with the outside sheeting so they have one inch of bearing and when loaded more they can just flip out at the bottom. And don't assume that the rim is one piece thru the work area. :wink2:
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I assume you have a separate door and window, so 3' headers something like that, that you will be widening to 8'. Your new slider is taller than a standard slider? So 8' ceiling you will only have ~9" clear below your existing top plate then? I do not know if you have 70psf snow load or 180mph wind load. I would not assume (2) 2x12s would get it done over an 8' span, not to mention fitting in there.
Make sure you've accurately tracked the load path from the roof all the way down to the foundation, and assessed where the loads are actually being carried above and around the opening. A rim joist typically functions as a stabilizing member for the joists, not as a beam; it may not be capable of spanning what you're expecting it to. The diaphragm action of the second story wall can be significant, but only if it's properly connected to function as such, which it may or may not be, especially if there are openings windows and such in that second story wall.
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My assessment of the loads is below, but you guys have all made good points. Thanks for the help. Andersen patio doors are specified by the rough opening size, so a 6'11" tall patio door will fit nicely under a 2x12 header and a top plate (6'11" + 11.5" + 1.5" = 96" ceiling height). My biggest remaining question is: Is there anything I should do to brace the opening between taking down the wall and installing the header. I'll have everything prepped to minimize the time it's unsupported, but do I need to support it, and if so, how?

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Header is 8 ft 6 for 2 jacks under each end.

Will you have a step down on the outside or will you be covering this with some roof or?
Pre cut the and build the header and pre cut the 4 jacks
remove the extra studs, lean 2 jacks against the kings and set the header on top and push the jacks into place that will push it up tight.


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