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  1. #1
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    Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    There's a load-bearing wall that I would like renovate. I want to put a window in it and make a breakfast bar and give more light into the kitchen during the afternoons and evenings.

    We have measured the window and there are two studs that need to get cut. I think I can safely remove these studs without a large compromise to the structure. I know ideally this sort of stuff shouldn't be done, but I've seen similar done in other houses and in practice doesn't seem harmful to the house.

    Thoughts?

    - Jerky.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerky
    There's a load-bearing wall that I would like renovate. I want to put a window in it and make a breakfast bar and give more light into the kitchen during the afternoons and evenings.

    We have measured the window and there are two studs that need to get cut. I think I can safely remove these studs without a large compromise to the structure. I know ideally this sort of stuff shouldn't be done, but I've seen similar done in other houses and in practice doesn't seem harmful to the house.

    Thoughts?

    - Jerky.
    as long as you do everything right, there should be no ill effects.

    you may wish you build a temporary bracing system near to where the window will be, however so long as you plan to do all the work in a day you should be fine without.

    if you could give me rough opening sizes for the window it'd be a little more helpful to determine header and cripples.

    the header will generally be (2) 2x12's nailed together with 1/2" plywood or osb in between in order to make the 3 1/2 inches needed for 2x4 exterior walls. (i assume they're 2x4 could be 2x6 i suppose). the size of the header will also be 3 inches longer than the rough opening width of the window. this is so that the ends of the header will be bearing on cripples. in most cases one cripple on each side of the opening will be fine.

    when installing the window you'll want to have the top of the window at the same high as the rest of the windows in the house. in some cases you may need to "pad" down the header to meet this hight. this involves nailing blocks (16 centers) inbetween the header and the top plate.

    you'll want to nail the header the the kings stds at the desired hieght first. then you can measure from the bottom of the header to the bottom plate to find your cripple hights. if there is any gap with the cripples you'll want to nail the cripples tight to the header, this will prevent sagging down the road. make sure you nail up the cripples well, 2 nails every 6-12" should be fine.

    from there you can make your sill, most times it will be a double sill, meaning two sill plates. under the sill you'll have more blocks 16" on center and 1 on either end of the sill for obvious reasons.

    from there you can install your window and finish everything up as far as trim and drywall goes.

    as for cutting everything out, i'm not big with demolition of finished buildings, generally when i have to move something the house hasn't been sided or drywalled yet. basically a good saws all will be your best friend.

    good luck
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  3. #3
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)


  4. #4
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    Wow. Thanks for the replies! It helps a lot.

    My wife is the one who's tackling this project (I have the electrical project... see my other thread ). I think she's going about this Engineering style... cut it and see what happens after. She's a mechanical engineer afterall. LOL

    I've printed this stuff off for reading on the subway ride home.

    I'll post some pictures and measurements once I get back there tonight.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    Just make sure the bracing around the window is good, and you should be fine.

    If it isnt, the house shifting from winter/summer MAY crack the window.

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  6. #6
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    Quote Originally Posted by pimp my ride
    Just make sure the bracing around the window is good, and you should be fine.

    If it isnt, the house shifting from winter/summer MAY crack the window.
    Well it's not really a window... more like a hole in the wall between the livingroom and kitchen. But I guess the principles are the same regardless whether or not I put glass in that hole, or a counter top.
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  7. #7
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    Seattle
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    Re: Putting a window in a load-bearing wall (home renovation)

    If you can tell me what's sitting on this wall where the new header is I'll calc the header for you. I'm at work here another 45 minutes, or I'll reply tomorrow am. I'll need to know what rafters/ceiling joists or floor joists/rafters/ceiling joists are on it, and the span to the next bearing wall that those members would rest on.

    What is the total width of the opening?

    What roof material is on your house?

    Do you know if there is an additional snow load?

    As an example: if it's single story (roof and ceiling only), up to 6' wide opening, 10' of roof and ceiling span bearing on the wall (20' overall span), comp/shake/metal roof, 2' overhang, 25# live/15# dead load - (2) 2x8 #2's would work.

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