Door Header

Old 11-08-04, 09:34 AM
KAveritt's Avatar
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Door Header

I would like to change our exisiting rectangular shaped doorway into an arched-type doorway. I don't want to lower the doorway any, so it appears the other way is to cut the arch into the doorway header. The doorway is on the first floor of a 2 story home and does not appear to be a load bearing wall, and also does not support any door. It is approx. 60" wide x 80" high. The arch I am cutting peaks 5" above the top of the doorway and it appears the door header is at least (2) 2x6s. My question is if there is any problem with actually cutting into the door header? What exactly is the purpose of a doorway header on a "non-door" opening? I hope this is clear enough to solicit an adequate reply. Thanks!
Old 11-08-04, 11:46 AM
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A header isn't simply for door support. In a load bearing wall, a header carries a load imposed by structures above any open span. That load would usually be carried by the wall studs, but when the plans call for an opening, a header distributes the load above the open span onto the common and trimmer studs supporting the header.

I'd be inclined to say that the wall is load bearing if it has a header made of two-2x6 members spanning a 60" opening. In a non-load bearing wall, I'd expect to see a single 2x4 with some cripples between the 2x4 member and the top plate. If the wall is indeed load bearing, you shouldn't be cutting into the existing header without consulting a structural engineer first.

One way of building an arch in a load bearing wall is to run a short members at an angle from each of the trimmer studs to the header to get the rough angles, then form the rest of the arch with wooden shims/blocking and 1/4" wallboard. You'll end up dropping the top of the doorway a little.
Old 11-08-04, 12:19 PM
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I'll agree that if there's 2 2x6's that it's a bearing wall. Or at the very least, whoever built it thought it was a bearing wall. You wouldn't go to the trouble or expense if it wasn't.

Don't cut those without consulting a proffessional.

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