load-bearing header: 2x10 vs 2x12

weedyacresJune 28, 2008

We're replacing a 7-foot segment of a load-bearing wall with a doorway header. All the window and door headers on this floor are double 2x12s, bringing the wall down to door height, but this will be a doorway. Is it okay to use 2x10s to provide more headroom/clearance?

Also, isn't the general rule to transfer the load via triple 2x4s from the header to the floor? I want to maximize side clearance as well, so can I use header hangers and a single 2x4? One end of the header will also be supporting the end of a flush laminate beam, so needs to transfer that load as well.

Thanks for your help. I've been reading everything I can on how to do this stuff, but want a verification.

BTW, the plan was to install the flush lam beam over the whole 21' span, but the guy at the truss fabricator read the prints wrong, and when we got the beam home we found out it is only 18' long. I told DH he should make them redo it since they made the error, but he wants to make it work, using the lam beam for 13' of the span and the header for the rest.

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The building code will have the acceptable headers and sizes.

The header load includes all the loads above the opening, second floors, roofs (with snow loads), the dead weight of the walls above, etc.

Builders rarely use a larger than required header.

While a single 2x4 can sustain a very large load, they are a long and thin column and are subject to buckling failure.

The code also specifies how many cripple studs are required to support the header, and again it is based on the load present.

Your AHJ might be able to provide some guidance, but not all are helpful.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 10:14AM
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you need to check codes in your area first. However building beyond what codes recommend will not hurt.

I would never use a single cripple to support that much. Double cripple at least but a triple would be even better.

If the truss company made a mistake then you should have them make it right. There was a reason for that to be a laminated beam the full length.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 5:25PM
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