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How to Build a Header
Headers Support the
Headers are also used in interior walls for doorways and where wider door space is desired between rooms. Interior walls that are load bearing walls also require load bearing headers for doorways.
Depending on the bearing load above an opening, headers are constructed of 2x4's on up to 2x14's. In a standard 2x4 wall these elements are doubled up with a 1/2" filler in the space between them and nailed together with 16d nails on both sides. In most homebuilding projects the most common size headers are usually 2x10 or 2x12.
Building the header:
1. Most door and window headers are cut 3" longer than the width of the rough opening. In a standard wall, a 2x10 or 2x12 header is usually nailed to the top plate.
2. Next nail 2x4's to the top plate and into the ends of the header.
3. Next add the two 2x4 jacks, nail them inside the studs and under the header. These 2x4's jacks are cut to the height of the door or window rough opening. If it is a window, a 2x4 sill is nailed to the bottoms of these cripples. The cripples are run below the sill to the bottom plate. This transfers the structural load from above the window to the floor and onto the foundation.
1. Building a header in a 2x4 wall for a 36" wide rough opening.
2. Use 2 pieces of header material (2x10, 2x12 etc.) and cut them to 39". This extra three inches allows for the thickness of the 2x4 jacks.
3. Next cut a piece of 1/2" plywood slightly less than the width and length of the header to be used as filler between the two header pieces. The plywood is cut undersize to keep it from hanging into the opening and to keep it away from framing members. Sandwich the 1/2" plywood spacer between the header material. Before nailing the header pieces together insure the ends and bottom are flush.
4. Nail together with 16d nails, 3 nails top to bottom, 16 inches on center from one end to the other.
Always know the exact window and door rough openings sizes before building the headers. Actually the headers can be built before any framing begins. When building headers the use of a framing nail gun can make the task go faster and save wear and tear on your person. Now that you know how to build a header you are ready for the rest of the wall. Note: Jacks are often referred to as cripples, however, the term “cripples” is more often used in defining elements of hip roof construction.
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