04:49PM | 07/06/01
Member Since: 07/05/01
6 lifetime posts
Iwill be removing all the walls on the first floor of my 85 year old home 20x32 to create an entirely open floor plan. (I mean, I will be helping a knowledgable person, that is) I'd like to know the concept for myself before I hire someone. What is used for the end beams to hold up the header. I had this done in my previous home in a 27X17 ft room, but I didn't pay attention to how they did it? What are the physics rules for how wide you can go and how big the support beam must be? Can you ever just leave in , say, 4 feet of wall and 2X4s on each end or must you always reconstruct a header?

Peter Lothian

06:19AM | 07/08/01
Member Since: 04/14/01
8 lifetime posts
This is not much of a direct answer, but I suspect that the other answers you will get are going to be in the same vein.

The questions you are asking are deep into the realm of structural engineering. There are no "rules of thumb" to follow as every house is going to be different. The calculations involved in determining what is safe when you alter the supporting structure are very complex, and would require measuring and anylyzing what you have now, in order to predict what will work to prevent floor sagging, etc. I strongly recommend that you consult a licensed Structural Engineer to ensure the safety of your plan, and explain to you what you need to know.

Knowing nothing about your knowlegeable friend, I don't want to insult him/her, but I do want to caution you if you hear the phrase "over-engineer". Sometimes contractors who like to wing it will say things like this in hopes of saving some money. An engineer will design the beam to ensure safety for the expected load, plus some extra strength for a possible additional load (waterbed, hot tub, etc.) In Mass. this past winter, four roofs collapsed due to heavy snow loading. These catastrophes can happen when folks try a little too hard to save some money.


03:46AM | 07/09/01
Member Since: 10/19/98
223 lifetime posts
If its a new non-load bearing wall, you can leave it open. The header divides the load onto the side studs. Picture an 8 foot board between a cople of supports, with the supports about 7 feet apart. The board will sag in the middle. Now put a 2x4 under the board. It doesn't sag anymore.

In an 80+ year old house even walls that once were not load-bearing can become so because of the way the house settled. Chances are good you may find supporting beams weakend by previous remodeling and/or wood rot.

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