Header for load-bearing wall

Old 10-13-04, 11:15 AM
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Header for load-bearing wall

I do handyman work. One of my clients wants to remove 8 feet of a load-bearing wall to open one room into another. How large/strong of a header do I need to span that distance?
Old 10-13-04, 03:18 PM
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Depends on a few factors.

1. Is the wall an interior load bearing, or exterior load bearing? (Sounds like an interior wall)

2. What is the load bearing wall suppporting? Roof and ceiling? Roof, ceiling, and one center bearing floor? Roof, ceiling, and one clear span floor? Two floors?

3. How wide is the building?

4. What species and grade of lumber do you plan to use for the header?

Say you have a 20-foot wide building, and the exterior bearing wall supports the roof, ceiling, and one center bearing floor. Assuming you use No. 2 grade lumber and build for a 30psf ground snow load, you could span the 8-foot opening in the exterior bearing wall with a header of 2-2x12 members supported by two jack studs on each end. See e.g. IRC TR502.5(1)&(2).

If the wall is an interior load bearing wall, then you could use No. 2 grade lumber and build a header from 3-2x10 members (assuming all other variables stay constant). See e.g. IRC TR502.5(2).

The above are taken from tables based on the International Residential Code. The grade and species of lumber can cause variations in allowed spans, so get yourself a copy of a span table that shows several species of lumber and the lumber grades you can use. Check with the local building authority to determine which code your jurisdiction follows. Your jurisdiction may require an inspection when structural components of a building are modified. A building inspector would be a good resource to verify the above information, too. It goes without saying that a good architect or structural engineer can give you even better information.

Also, you're going to have some bracing issues during the construction. I can cite to codes, but I'm not competent to comment on what you'll need there.

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