bearing load of a 2 x 4

sniffdogOctober 2, 2007

I am in need of some information on the load that a douglas fir 2x4 can support when installed as a ceiling joist memeber.

Does anyone have a reference to tables that show the pounds per linear foot that a 2x4 can support (as a beam) so that I can calculate various spans and the total weight load that can be supported.


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The link below should help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Span Tables

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 10:38AM
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If this is for a project where you are pulling permits, having inspections, etc., you might want to check in with your building dept as well. The structural requirements can vary from state to state, county to county, etc. They are usually pretty close in most areas,but can differ.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 11:37AM
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thanks for the responses.

i found this site: and it has a number of tables and a calulators for determining the stress load of beams. i downloaded the calculator (example #3) and typed in the characteristics of a 2x4 stud that I got from the first table.

for my little project - it looks like a standard wall stud made of douglas fir used as a structural beam that is 4 feet long can support a load of 85 pounds per linear foot or about 360 pounds.

does this sound right?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 1:04PM
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With the beam positioned in what orientation? With what level of deflection?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 1:24PM
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I still believe there are nice guys/gals in this world. A simple phone call to a structural engineer in your area should verify.Or call your building dept. and run it by them as i still believe there are nice guys/gals at the building dept as well.Another thought, call a builder,as i still believe there are nice guy/gal builders.Or wait for a response on this forum as i still believe there are nice guys/gals here!

What is the load concern above the 2x4 and the estimated load.If you have the space, why not go a little overkill and end your concern of using a 2x4.Could you substitute the 2x for a 4x4 or even a 4x6? What the heck are you doing anyhow,sniffdog? More details!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 1:33PM
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The 2x4 beam will be positioned with the narrow side of the board resting on a wall top plate supported by studs (just like a ceiling joist).

I want this information for structures that I plan on building in the future. I want to know how to calculate specific loads structural members can support - using the type of wood and the beam dimensions.

As an example - I am planning on storing a small utility trailer in my garage. I would like to hoist it vertically in the back of the garage inside a closet so that I don't take up a lot of space when the trailer is not being used. If the trailer weighs 500 pounds - I want to know how to calculate the size beams I would need for the closet. Would two 2x4 beams that are 4 feet long support this load? Based on the calculator I found, it would appear yes - and with plenty of margin.

The span tables that are published aren't much help. I don't want to under or overkill anything - I want to design my structures to support the loads and know the structure will work. I have many other projects planned like this - so I would prefer to learn the science so that I can apply it to any project I take on.

I found a source on line with a calculator to do exactly what I want (see link on my previous post) - just looking for someone to confirm that the results make sense.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 7:04AM
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