How to Build a Metal Stud Header

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Building a header over a door way is important
Building a header over a door way is important (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

A door or window header must be designed to resist both lateral load and dead load. Lateral load is the horizontal load imposed on the header; dead load is the vertical load imposed on the header. You must install a header over door and window openings. The type of wall it is in, load bearing or partition, will govern how the header is built. If you are using metal stud framing, you can buy an easy-to-install one-piece factory fabricated header, or you can build your own.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal studs
  • Metal tracks
  • Tin snips
  • Chop saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Sheet metal locking pliers
  • Screws
  • Cordless drill

Measure and mark the door jambs, from the floor to the desired height of the header. Measure between the door jambs to get the measurement for the header over the door. Add three inches to the measurement.

Cut a piece of metal track to the measurement needed for the header plus the three inches, using a chop saw with a metal-cutting blade.

Cut the edges of the track 1-1/2 inches on each side, using tin snips. Bend the ends of the track back 90 degrees. Use sheet metal locking pliers to bend the track if you cannot bend it by hand.

Place the track with the opening facing the ceiling and on the marks, using the inside of the track as a guide. The two ends of the track will be in the door opening, wrapped around the door jamb studs. Clamp the ends onto the door jamb studs and screw the ends of the track to the door jambs.

Fill in above the door header with studs either 16 inches on center or 24 inches on center, depending on how you framed the wall. This is for partitions walls only.

Cut two metal studs to the measurement between the door jambs. Lay the two studs horizontally in the track above the door opening, with the inside of the studs facing each other. Clamp the studs to the edge of the track and screw the studs in place. These next steps are for a load-bearing wall, such as an exterior wall.

Cut another piece of track the same measurement as the bottom track. Cut the edges of the track 1-1/2 inches on each side and bend the ends of the track back 90 degrees. Slide over the studs with the inside of the track facing down. Clap the track to the header studs and screw the edge of the track to the studs. Screw the 1-1/2 inch bent part of the track to the door jamb studs.

Cut a piece of track the same length as the studs for the header. Place the track on top of the header, with the track facing up. Screw the track to the other piece of track below.

Fill in above the door header with studs either 16 inches on center or 24 inches on center depending on how you framed the wall.

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