Help - Beam size for removing exterior wall

tmy23January 25, 2009

Greetings. I am planning an addition to our kitchen and will remove about 9' (total wall is 15') of the back wall of the house to "open" the space into the new addition. I am not considering this wall fully load bearing, but wanted to get the opinion of some more experienced than this humble DIY'er. The house is 125 year old balloon frame, 4"x6" (actual dimension) studs on 16" centers. The wall being removed runs parallel to the floor joists on all floors. Above the portion to be removed is the second floor exterior wall and above that the attic exterior wall under the gable end of this wing of the house. As all the floor joists are parallel, it seems that the section I want to remove is holding up just the exterior wall, not any of the floors or roof. To confirm, in the kitchen where I've removed the lathe and plaster, I've seen that last ceiling joist along the end wall studs (studs to be removed) isn't tied (nailed, bolted, etc into the studs, it simply runs past. As such it looks like the floors are supported solely by the perpendicular exterior walls.

The ceilings are 10.5' tall so I have height to spare, I was planning on double 2"x12" glued and bolted for a 9' span. Given that the studs are 4"x6" I could fit in a triple 2"x12", but it sure is a lot more to lift into place.

Second question...I am assuming that I can place the studs I install to support the beam on the bottom plate (which is on the top of the foundation wall.

thanks for all your help...


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If this is a brick veneer cavity wall I recommend not doing it or hiring a design professional.

I can't comment on a loading condition I haven't seen but otherwise your comments seem reasonable. Shore the frame before removing the studs. There is no benefit to gluing or bolting the 2x12's together, just nail them well and secure them at the supports. You can put one 2x12 up at a time if it is easier but make them tight to the framing above. Make sure the bearing is on two jack studs at each end with a full height king stud immediately adjacent. Nail the shortened studs to the beam and to the parallel joist. Check the remaining wall for lateral bracing, you might need to add some at the corners. Make sure there is no opening in the basement wall below the support studs and take the load directly to the sill beam.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 8:21AM
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Thanks! Yes the wall above the proposed opening is frame construction, no brick, just clapboards. It is one full story and then the attic walls. Again, floor joists are parallel and are not tied into the balloon studs. Would you recommend the double or triple 2x12?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 8:57AM
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I don't like to comment on any loading condition I have not seen but a 9-0 double 2x12 beam will support a uniform live plus dead load of more than 450 lbs per linear foot with acceptable deflection. A triple member beam would carry 50% more load.

It is a good idea to have a knowledgeable person look at it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 1:17PM
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I think you should go talk to the building dept. before you apply for a permit and they will direct you in the right direction.
Don't forget there is a load path that has to be carried down to the foundation wall too. Depending on your code there, double trimmer studs are required lots of times with a span over 8'.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 8:53PM
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