How to Install a Door Header


A door header completes the rough frame of the door and supports the structures above the door. On and exterior or weight-bearing wall, the door header becomes a critical component of the house frame. A door header is usually installed while the house is being framed, but during remodeling new doors require new framing and, with that, a header.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 x 12 Douglas Fir Lumber
  • 2 x 4 lumber
  • 1/2" B/C inch plywood
  • 2-1/2 inch framing nails
  • 3-1/2 inch framing nails
  • 4 or 6 foot level
  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Position and nail in place the king studs and two jack studs per side. (See illustration for rough door frame parts and positions.) The jack studs are typically the height of the rough door frame, 81 to 82-1/2 inches, depending on the frame of the new door. Before nailing, ensure the king studs are plumb (vertically level) with the level.

  • Make the header by cutting two lengths of 2 x 12 to span between the king studs. Cut a matching piece of 1/2 inch plywood and sandwich it between the two 2 x 12 pieces. Flush all the edges and nail it all together, from both sides.

  • Set the new header on the jack studs and flush the edges to the kings studs. Nail the header in place, through the king studs, using 3-1/2 inch framing nails. The header should directly support the wall-frame top plates (horizontal 2 x 4's).

  • Take up space below the header by installing "cripple studs" supported by a horizontal 2 x 4. This is typically necessary on doorways in walls higher than 8 feet. The finished rough frame height should be between 81 and 82-1/2 inches measured from the floor to the bottom of the framing.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the wall is a bearing wall on the first floor of a two-or-more-story house, consult an architect or your local building department for maximum spans of headers. For more than a single door, you may need special materials. Before beginning construction, consult your local building department for local codes concerning structural changes to your home.
  • Support the overhead structure using beams and posts while working on weight-bearing walls. While it is unlikely the house would collapse, it is possible for the framing to sag, causing many other problems.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by Hamed Saber, Illustration by MJ Logan
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