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how high can windows go to the ceiling?

Posted by Fiona44 (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 9, 11 at 14:53

Hello All, my first time posting on this forum. We are planning a kitchen reno in our 1978 Saltbox home. We would like to optimize our view by placing 5' tall windows along the back of our kitchen wall which overlooks our garden. Our trusted GC says this is doable with the proper header. We would have the windows running from the counter to the ceiling...which means the top trim would be right up against the ceiling. I hope this makes an okay visual...as I am wondering if it would look okay? The width would be between 5 and 7 feet, we have not decided yet. Next to this window we would have our eating area slider which would have a 1 ft transom above...same idea...trim right against the ceiling. I'm fairly confident the expansive view will not make the the window look "squished" but was hoping for some other's opinions. Anyone have any thoughts?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

Header placement is the driver.

The header height is based on the loads above the opening and the width of the opening.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

+1

In most applications, you cannot run the window up to the ceiling height because you are encroaching on the placement of the window header and the homes ability to structurally support the load of the home.

You will need to get a PE to look at it and see what needs to be done to achieve that look. It may require considerable restructuring.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

If the windows run too close to fit the required wood header size, can she substitute a steel header that is not as thick but supports the same load?


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

Steel headers must be engineered.

The building code does not provide sizes.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

Potentially, however, this is a question better suited for PE and the code compliance implications.

If you use some sort of steel beam, the issue becomes how you tie that structure into existing structure, drywall to it, etc.

You also are creating a huge thermal bridge in the home as well to suck the heat right out of the home.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

"If you use some sort of steel beam, the issue becomes how you tie that structure into existing structure, drywall to it, etc."

You wrap it in wood to provide nailing surface.

"You also are creating a huge thermal bridge in the home as well to suck the heat right out of the home."

Some high R-per inch foam board can normally solve this problem.

It will have to be engineered though, and that will include fastening and insulation issues.
You may be able to use a flitch beam (steel plate between wood members),
In many cases you need to just replace the 1/2 inch plywood layer in the header with 1/2 inch steel plate correctly fastened to transfer and share loads with the wood.
It is not that hard to design or fabricate.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

Agreed. Flitch plate, LVL, glulam all might work but it does not sound like it will give the customer what they are looking for. I got the impression that the OP was looking for the windows to run right up to the ceiling.

It is certainly not impossible by any stretch but when you give the customer that quote so that they can have some additional window height, be prepared for a change of heart unless the windows are egregiously low.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

"I got the impression that the OP was looking for the windows to run right up to the ceiling. "

The header is going to have to support joists or rafters for the structure above so no vertical wall space is used.

They can be hung from the side of the header.

Not hard, but will require some 'different' (read not covered by the building code and therefore requiring engineering) framing methods.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

There are certainly framing techniques that will allow for just about anything to be done.

Different usually = $$ and additional work.


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RE: how high can windows go to the ceiling?

I don't think the original question was how to design a header so the window could go all the way to the ceiling but what it would look like if it did. The OP said the builder already knew how to do that.

That would mean that he intends to put header inside the structure of the floor or attic framing above. Some building officials might allow this header to be sized from the building code tables and others might require an engineer to design it. In any case, the continuous top plate should remain and that would cause the window to be just low enough for the trim to fit as the OP described.

How that would look in a kitchen above the counter is not possible to say without a photo of the kitchen but it might be just fine if any window treatment does not require space above the window. Narrow blinds would work for instance.


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