Door header with 7' ceiling

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  #1  
Old 10-23-06, 09:14 PM
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Thumbs down Door header with 7' ceiling

I'm remodeling an old house that has 7' ceilings. There is only a single 2x4 top plate on the exterior walls. The bottom of that plate is at about 83". A standard door is 80" tall. So how the heck do I fit a header between the top plate and door frames?

There are currently no headers, just small pieces of wood laying loose above each door frame. Extra kindling maybe.

To make matters worse, I hope to install a 5' patio door. If I remember correctly, a 5' opening requires at least a 10" header. Even a laminate beam won't work here. How about steel lintels and how would I size them? Any ideas... other than skyhooks?

Thanks
Barry
 
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  #2  
Old 10-24-06, 05:56 AM
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I would start by checking out doors at a MH center. MH doors are typically 76" tall.

Is it a load bearing wall?

I'm not a framer but I'm sure one will chime in shortly.
 
  #3  
Old 10-24-06, 08:13 AM
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Marksr,
Thanks for responding. Unfortunately yes, they are exterior load bearing walls. They aren't on a gable side. So I don't have room above the top plate. I had thought about mobile home doors, but I still don't think a laminate beam would quite fit above a 5' opening. I'll double check measurements today.

I'm still thinking steel. I'm an electrical engineer and I suppose I could dig out some old text books and calculate the loads, etc. I'm just not sure about the code requirements and was hoping somone would just say "you have to use XXX".
 
  #4  
Old 10-24-06, 10:02 AM
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Posting a picture would help a lot.

Is this a one-story - two? What is above the wall where you want the new door? You say that your current door frames (assume 36" or less) don't have headers. Even a 30" door in a load bearing wall should have something to transfer the load to the framing around the opening. A beam could have been built at the ceiling level (especially if there is a 2nd floor). More information will help.
 
  #5  
Old 10-24-06, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by CowDoc
Marksr,
Thanks for responding. Unfortunately yes, they are exterior load bearing walls. They aren't on a gable side. So I don't have room above the top plate. I had thought about mobile home doors, but I still don't think a laminate beam would quite fit above a 5' opening. I'll double check measurements today.

I'm still thinking steel. I'm an electrical engineer and I suppose I could dig out some old text books and calculate the loads, etc. I'm just not sure about the code requirements and was hoping somone would just say "you have to use XXX".
Is this a one story house with the rafters sitting on top of that wall, or is it a two story house with floor joists sitting on top with a wall above with rafters?

If it's a two story and you have floor joists above, you can cut the joists back and put a flush header in there and use joist hangers for the existing joists.

If it's a single story and the rafters sit on the top plate, there have been a few jobs before that I cut the rafters back the same as the joists and then hang the rafters and ceiling joists on double joist hangers. You have to make sure that the header that will be designed for this doesn't stick above the top of the rafters. You will also have to reframe the overhangs.

It's a lot of work both ways and it all has to be designed by an Architect or Engineer. I'm just giving you some options here if you want to stick with a 6'8" door. If not, you have to order a custom door.
 

Last edited by Joe Carola; 10-24-06 at 10:48 AM.
  #6  
Old 10-24-06, 09:45 PM
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More info is always better. Sorry if I've been too brief. This is a 1000 sq ft, single story farm house from the 1940's.

I pulled a permit to redo the drywall and electrical. I noticed the missing headers when the drywall was down. Since I clearly have to reframe doors and windows, I'll be installing new and would like to enlarge one of the 4' window openings to accomodate a 5' sliding door. I'll also enlarge other windows to meet code.

This house is for my own use and the new framing won't be inspected (Shhh!), but I do want it functional and safe. I'm adhereing to local codes as best possible, but some aren't practical given the age and construction of the home.

The house is platform framed with the rafters and ceiling joists resting directly on a single (not double) top plate. On most of the openings I can use Joe Carola's idea of cutting the rafters back. A great idea. Thanks Joe. Unfortunately that won't work for the 5' door.

That opening is in an area that was originally a porch with a shed roof (24'x8'). It's now the kitchen. The wall with the opening supports the low end of the 8' shed roof. Again, the rafters and joists rest directly on the top plate. However here, the top plate is three layers of 2X4s. The rafters have no bird's mouth. They're tapered at the ends as are the ceiling joists. They end at the top plate. The roof overhang is framed seperately.

The top of the three 2x4 top plates is at 84 inches. So an 80" door would mean cutting the lower top plate completely out. A 76" door would fit, but with no header other than the three top plates.

This wall doesn't have a large load and there has been a 4' window there for years. I'm only enlarging by 1'. Since this area is gutted anyway, I'm thinking of jacking up the joists and rafters and replacing part of the top plate with a small laminate beam or perhaps just sliding in a steel lintel. The lintel would be easier and cheaper.

The real question is: Is there an easy way to size a steel lintel for this application (i.e. a look up table), or do I need to break out my old engineering books... and maybe call the local mason. I have a 10' steel lintel over my garage door to support the dry stack stone. That's a lot heavier than a 5' width of shed roof with or without snow... and it cost less than $50.

If you've read this far, I owe you a Big Mac. If you come up with an easy answer, a beer... my choice of locations of course.
 
  #7  
Old 10-25-06, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by CowDoc



That opening is in an area that was originally a porch with a shed roof (24'x8'). It's now the kitchen. The wall with the opening supports the low end of the 8' shed roof. Again, the rafters and joists rest directly on the top plate. However here, the top plate is three layers of 2X4s. The rafters have no bird's mouth. They're tapered at the ends as are the ceiling joists. They end at the top plate. The roof overhang is framed seperately.

The top of the three 2x4 top plates is at 84 inches. So an 80" door would mean cutting the lower top plate completely out. A 76" door would fit, but with no header other than the three top plates.

This wall doesn't have a large load and there has been a 4' window there for years. I'm only enlarging by 1'. Since this area is gutted anyway, I'm thinking of jacking up the joists and rafters and replacing part of the top plate with a small laminate beam or perhaps just sliding in a steel lintel. The lintel would be easier and cheaper.
If that's the case. Jacking up the joists and rafters is going to ruin everything. You will have to go back to the other side of your ceiling joists and raise them level. Your rafters at the top will pull out from jacking it up.

You can just cut back on both your ceiling joists and rafters and double up the ceiling joist and rafters on each side of the 5' opening and header them off right at the inside of the wall.

What you’re doing is framing the rafters and ceiling joists as if they were supporting a skylight and taking all the weight off the top plate. The rafter header will start right at the inside of the top plate and you can frame small pieces above to continue the angle of the roof and frame a new overhang.

You'll have to go back and continue small ceiling joist out to the top plate to maintain the level ceiling.

I hope this makes sense for you.
 
  #8  
Old 10-25-06, 10:01 AM
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I was only thinking of lifting the joists enough to get the pressure off and the old top plates out; maybe 1/8" to 1/4" lift. With a low angle and an 8' roof length, I didn't think that would push the rafters or pull the other ends of the joists enough to matter. Maybe it would.

Joe, your solution makes perfect sense and is easy. It's exactly what I was looking for. Sometimes you have to think around corners. You can pick up that Big Mac and beer in Knoxville TN. :-)

Really, a big thanks to everyone here... especially Joe.
 
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