Opening up a ballon framed load bearing wall

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  #1  
Old 09-26-05, 10:13 PM
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Opening up a ballon framed load bearing wall

My husband and I are completely remodeling my mom's kitchen. It's a 1930s house (plaster and lathe) and we've gutted it down to the studs (what a messy job that was!). Part of the project involves opening up section (about 70") of a load bearing wall.

Here's a diagram that shows what the wall looks like now and if you move your mouse over the image, you see how it'll look when we're done.

We're by no means novices to major home improvement projects, but this is the first time we'll be dealing with a load-bearing wall. We know to build a temporary support wall and the new wall we've planned is strong enough to support the load. The problem we've run into, though, is that the house has ballon framing--something I wasn't even familiar with until now.

The wall is directly beneath a second floor exterior wall and the 2x4s run the entire height of the house (from the top of the foundation wall to the 2nd floor ceiling). Here's an explanation of the existing construction: the 2x4 wall studs have a 1x8 section notched out of them. Inset and nailed into that is a 1x8 ledger board. The ceiling joists are resting on the ledger board and are nailed into the sides of the 2x4s. Hopefully with that description and viewing the diagram, it all makes sense.

Our concern is how the heck to support the second floor exterior wall. Our temporary wall will support the ceiling joists, but once we cut off the wall studs the only thing that will be keeping the second floor sections of those studs from dropping will be the nails that attach them to the joists.

Any advice appreciated.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-27-05, 01:06 AM
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I have a suggestion that may provide a solution. Hope I can explain it in a way that is understandable.

Cut two 2x8s so that they are about two feet longer than the span you need to support. Join them together to make a double 2x8 header. Make two more double 2x8s as posts that will support the header, cutting them to the length needed to hold the header firmly against the ceiling joists that you need to support. Place this temporary "brace" as close as you can to the wall you need to alter, such that you have adequate space to work.

Next install any cripple studs you plan to use to support the double 2x8 header that will support the new framing. The cripple studs should be placed in a way that they fully support the existing 1x8 inset board.

Cut the 1x8 inset board at the ends above the cripple studs, but don't remove it just yet. Cut the 2x8s that will make the new header, but don't join them yet.

Place a 2x4 horizontally across the lower wall studs that you plan to remove and secure to each stud. Make sure this stud is long enough to secure to the cripple studs. This will immobilize the wall studs so they don't move.

Now for the tricky part. Cut through the wall studs you plan to remove from the inside at the top of the 1x8 header where the notch for the 1x8 starts, taking care not to knock the upper portion of the stud off the 1x8. Next, cut through the same studs from the inside at the bottom of the 1x8 header where the notch ends. Basically, you are removing the remaining portion of the stud that was left when they were first notched.

You should now have matching but separate sets of wall studs, with the upper studs resting tenuously on the 1x8 and the temporary double 2x8 brace. Take one one of new 2x8 header boards and install onto the cripples and between the gap you created in the wall studs. Make sure you leave enough space to cut the 1x8 into pieces small enough to allow you to remove it. After the 1x8 is removed, pound the new 2x8 into position, and install the remaining 2x8 header piece.

You can now remove the horizontal 2x4 brace from the lower wall studs, and remove the lower wall studs. The temporary 2x8 brace may also be removed.

One additional thought: if you don't have room the remove the 1x8 after the first 2x8 header piece is installed, you could probably do one of two things:

1. don't cut the 1x8 at all - leave it as is and in place. simply install one 2x8 flush against the existing 1x8, and then install an additional 1x8 against the 2x8 instead of another 2x8. this should be roughly equivalent to two 2x8s.

2. install one of the 2x8 header pieces close to the existing 1x8, then remove the lower wall studs. Cut the 1x8 at both ends near the cripples so it drops out. Pry out the remaining 1x8 pieces that are left over the cripples.

Hope this idea helps. Sorry for the length. I don't have comparable drawing software so I couldn't send a picture.

Best wishes!

Rick
 
  #3  
Old 09-27-05, 07:16 PM
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Since it's only a 70" opening, and you are going to be leaving the existing studs above the new header, I'd lag bolt a temporary hem-fir 2x12 across the length of the wall on the exposed interior side directly against the ceiling, lagging twice it to every 2x4 framing member. Support this 2x12 on the ends with a notched 2x4, and also in the middle, on each side of your 70" opening. You should be able to cut out and build the new wall while leaving this 2x12 in place. You may need to remove one of the temporary 2x4's fpr a few minutes during your demolition, but even if you remove 1, there are 3 others helping to hold it. The 2x12 and the lags are what will be distributing most of the weight temporarily.

BTW, nice picture!
 
  #4  
Old 09-28-05, 02:16 AM
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Balloon Framing

Either of the two methods described will work just fine. The choice is yours.
However, there are a couple of things from your drawing which by the way was very nice. Others here could learn from you. Anyway, I would upgrade to 2x10 headers, and you need one more crippple over your refrig. opening.
Good Luck I love these tricky little jobs. If it were me I would use hydraulic jacks to keep everything in place while cutting out the old studs. Have a very good day.
 
  #5  
Old 09-29-05, 12:13 PM
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Rick -
Nice the step-by-step instructions! We had to read through it a few times, but we were able to follow your description. I think the trickiest part, using this method, would removing the 2x4 sections behind the 1x8 ledger after we cut them because the 1x8 is nailed to the 2x4s. So, trying to pry them out without disturbing the upper portions of the 2x4s could be quite difficult.

Here's a cutaway side view of the wall construction that shows where the nails are.

XSleeper -
I think your method would be a bit easier to accomplish, so we'll probably go with that, or some combination of yours and Rick's methods. One question, though: why notched 2x4s for supporting the 2x12? Why not just have full 2x4s underneath it? Is notching just to provide a little breathing room between them and the studs we'll be removing and reconstructing or is there another purpose?

Jack -
I wasn't even thinking about width of the fridge span when I drew a single cripple in there. I'm sure my husband would have realilzed that when it was time to build, but thanks for pointing it out. I've updated the diagram to show that now Why do you think 2x10s instead of 2x8s for the new header? Is it for extra support because of the ballon frame construction or do you think any 70" span in a load bearing wall should use 2x10s?



Thanks so much for the great information, everyone! I knew I could count on the DoItYourself.com forum to help us out

If anyone's curious, here's an diagram of the new kitchen layout. I'm a graphic designer, so I just can't resist making detailed drawings when we're doing a project
 
  #6  
Old 09-29-05, 07:56 PM
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I really like the drawings - you definitely have a gift for it. I like the layout of the new kitchen too.

I wondered about the 1x8 being nailed to the 2x4s. Sorry!

Two work-arounds for removing the remaining portion of the the studs:

1. You could use a reciprocating saw with a tapered metal cutting blade and cut the nails off between the 1x8 and 2x4 joint. I've used this method with notches before with good effect.

2. Use a ten or twelve inch 2x4 piece and "tie" the top and bottom portion of the cut stud together. This will hold them in place while you pry the 2x4 piece out.

You can use the "tie" method with option 1 as well provided the 2x4 tie doesn't obstruct the path of the blade.

Have fun with your project!

Best wishes.

Rick
 
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Old 09-29-05, 09:15 PM
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dynagirl,

I'd notch them to keep them completely out of the way of the new wall you are building. Since the 2x12 is going on the side of the existing 2x4's, if you notch the 2x4 in the manner I describe, you can install these temporary supports plumb and then just lay the sill plate and build the new wall right up next to it. By "notched", I meant that they would be cut so as to sit parallel with the other studs, while sitting perpendicular to and still supporting the temporary 2x12. To support a 2x12 in this manner, you'd cut a notch out that is 11 1/4" x 1 1/2". You could then screw the notched 2x4 to the 2x12 through the remaining 2" that is opposite the notch.

If you just used full 2x4's that were turned so as to be completely underneath the 2x12, if there really was a lot of weight bearing down (which there won't be), the 2x12 would shear the connectors as it rolled right off of your supports. 2x4's would also bow under the weight if placed that direction, while if perpendicular, they can be braced to one another more easily. Notching them gives you a wider area to fasten the temporary header to- it's just the way I've always done it, never thought about the reason why before.
 

Last edited by XSleeper; 09-29-05 at 09:26 PM.
  #8  
Old 09-30-05, 04:21 AM
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Balloon Framed Wall

You asked why I would use 2 x 10's instead of 2 x 8's ? Well, that is what I would use. Balloon framed walls are weird animals. The live loads, as well as the dead loads, do not necessarily travel the normal paths of load transfer. Since you are putting in a header anyway, and if you have the room, why not go the extra mile and beef up your header and support for that above it ? Everything else would remain the same. As you mentioned, this is an old house and it is set in its ways. You would probably be safe with 2 x 8's, but "what if". I have always been told that I overbuild and reinforce beyond what is needed. Maybe I do, but in 35 years, I have never had anything fail on me, or slip or sag. Maybe I am being over cauious. I guess its up to you. Put on the coffee pot, and we will come and watch you.
 
  #9  
Old 09-30-05, 05:22 AM
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Jack is right. Make the header bigger than what you think it should be. What will it hurt?
 
  #10  
Old 10-01-05, 10:22 AM
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For the new header, 2x10s it shall be! We definitely don't have a problem with overbuilding.

We reassessed the structure last night and discovered a hidden 2x6 that is helping to support the 2x4s. I know, I know, how could we miss that? If you could flip my diagram around and look at the other side, the 2x6 is up high, kind of buried partially into the second floor wall and it was obstructed by insulation that had been crammed into that ceiling.

The 2x6 is nailed to the 2x4s and also resting on the 2 adjacent walls of the little pantry room. So we feel pretty good about the project now. We're still going to build additional support for those 2x4s, but instead of having to bolt anything to the 2x4s themselvves, we're going to utilize that 2x6 as the point of support since it's already attached to the 2x4s.

Anyway, we're off to make our final measurements, then to Home Depot to buy the wood. Construction begins today! I'll post pictures later this weekend.

Thanks everyone
 
  #11  
Old 10-01-05, 12:11 PM
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Your very Welcome
 
  #12  
Old 10-01-05, 10:30 PM
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Sounds like the 2x6 was a great find!

I'll check back for the pictures!

Have fun!

Rick
 
  #13  
Old 10-03-05, 12:33 AM
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We successfully opened up the wall and installed the new header this weekend We did use 2x10s and also sandwiched plywood in between the them to make the header a perfect 4" width. That worked out well, but man that was one heavy header! Then again, I'm pretty tiny, so everything is heavy for me

Pictures of this weekend's work are here. By the way, that's me in the "test fitting the header" photo (hubby also, but he's in just about every picture since I usually take the pictures!). You can use the menu at the top of that page to backtrack to earlier photos of the project as well.

The bad news is the project is now on hold because my mom (for about the 50th time) has changed her mind about the kitchen layout. She's basically torn between two plans that make different use of the wall we're working on.

Plan #1, which is what we were working towards and would have the wall end up like this.

Plan #2, which would have the wall end up like this. This plan looks easier, but adds another project into the mix: there's a double window on the wall where the stove would go, so we'd have to remove one to make a suitable spot for the stove.

So anyway, where everything stands now is the header is nailed up, currently with a permanent 2x4 at each end, plus a another temporary 2x4 at each end screwed into the permanent ones. And we still have all our temporary supports in place.

Anyone want to call my mom to tell her to make up her friggin' mind already?
 
  #14  
Old 10-03-05, 12:52 AM
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If you live in an area where building codes are enforced. all plans will need to be run past the local building inspector and you will need the required permits and inspections. Non-permitted work can affect resale value and possible removing of any work that did not meet codes when it comes to resale.
 
  #15  
Old 10-03-05, 02:06 AM
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Balloon Framing

Your header looks very nice. Nice job. I can see you are experienced by all of the little shims between the header and the ceiling joists. Most, even pros, would not have added them in. Congratulations. Now, you move forward, just as soon as Mom makes up her mind.
 
  #16  
Old 10-03-05, 10:02 PM
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The pictures are great.

You're on your own with mom.
 
  #17  
Old 10-04-05, 01:18 PM
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Looks like the project is back on. My mom has decided to stick with Plan 1, and she's getting ready to go on vacation for 2 weeks... by the time she gets back, it'll be too late for her to change her mind again So this weekend, we'll build the fridge space and new pantry doorway. We've also got some nasty rotted wood to deal with inside the pantry space (it apparently had a leaking roof for a long time that was just fixed a few years ago). I think for that, we're just going to sure it up. There's no second floor above the pantry--it's just a balcony.

Twelvepole - Thanks for the heads up about permits and inspections, but I don't think anyone actively enforces it around here. We'll be building to code or better anyway, though (we've got code books for our area).

Jack - Thanks for the compliment. The shims just seemed logical when dealing with structural support like that. The ceiling joists weren't all level with each other, so there were little gaps here and there (and we also had the not-exactly-perfectly-sawed-off ends of the 2x4s to contend with. So we shimmed everywhere we could to keep everything nice and tight.
 
  #18  
Old 11-13-05, 10:33 PM
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Project Update

In case anyone wants to see how things are progressing, I've added new photos (see sections 6, 7 & 8). Drywall is getting delivered tomorrow
 
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