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
- 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.
- Photo Credit Photo by Hamed Saber, Illustration by MJ Logan
How to Install a Header Beam
A header extends over the top of a door or a window and adds support. All walls built with studs set at...
How to Install a Sliding Glass Patio Door
A sliding glass door is a great addition to let in more light and air or act as an eye-catching access to...
How to Make a Header for a Patio Door
When building a house, there are several areas of that are considered load bearing. Placing extra support above open spots in the...
How to Build a Header for a Door
Door frames are built in two concentric rectangular arches. The outside rectangle is made from 2-by-4 lumber and is part of the...
How to Install a Wider Residential Entry Door
Widening a doorway is one way to improve access to your home. It requires making extensive changes to the door frame to...
Proper Size Wood for a Door Header
One of the strongest architectural design elements is the arch. The vertical framing and header planks of a doorway are a prime...