Mar 13 , 2023
How to Build Window Headers and Door Headers
What are Headers?
In the context of construction and architecture, headers refer to the structural elements above windows and doors that help support the weight of the building materials above them.
In windows, the header is the horizontal beam that runs across the top of the window frame and supports the weight of the wall or roof above it. The header is usually made of wood or steel and is designed to distribute the weight of the structure evenly across the window frame.
Similarly, in doors, the header is the horizontal beam that runs across the top of the door frame and supports the weight of the wall or roof above it. The header is usually made of wood or steel and is designed to distribute the weight of the structure evenly across the door frame.
Functions of Headers
Headers are an important part of building construction, as they help ensure the structural integrity of the building and prevent sagging or other forms of damage to the walls and roof.
When a window or door is installed in a wall, the header distributes the weight of the wall above the opening down to the wall below the opening. Without a header, the weight of the wall above the opening would cause the wall to sag or collapse.
In addition to providing structural support, headers also help to maintain the integrity of the building envelope by providing a secure attachment point for the window or door frame. This helps to prevent air and water leaks, which can lead to energy loss and damage to the building's structure and finishes.
Therefore, properly sized and installed headers are crucial for the safety, stability, and longevity of a building. It is important to consult with a qualified professional or follow local building codes and regulations when installing headers in windows and doors.
Suggested Header Sizes
The header size for a window or door depends on several factors, such as the size and weight of the opening, the load-bearing capacity of the surrounding walls, and the local building code requirements. However, as a general guideline, here are some suggested header sizes for windows and doors:
For a standard 6'8" interior door or a 6'0" sliding patio door, use a header size of 2x6 or larger.
For exterior doors, especially those with sidelights or transoms, use a header size of 2x8 or larger.
For windows, the header size will depend on the size of the window and the load-bearing capacity of the surrounding walls. As a general rule, use a header size of 2x6 or larger for windows up to 4 feet wide, and 2x8 or larger for wider windows.
It's important to note that these are just suggested sizes, and you should always consult with a licensed contractor or structural engineer to ensure that the header size you choose is appropriate for your specific situation.
Required Tools for this Project
Lumber (2x8, 2x10, or 2x12 depending on the opening size and load)
Nails or screws
1.Measure the width of the opening where you want to install the header.
2.Calculate the size of the header needed based on the weight load it will need to support. The size of the header is usually specified by the building code or a structural engineer.
3.Cut two or three pieces of lumber to the length of the header needed. The lumber should be at least as wide as the studs in the wall where the header will be installed.
4.Stack the pieces of lumber on top of each other and align the edges.
5.Nail or screw the pieces of lumber together to form a solid beam.
6.Lift the header up and position it above the opening.
7.Use a level to ensure the header is level.
8.Nail or screw the header into the studs on either side of the opening.
9.Install the window or door according to the manufacturer's instructions.
10.Finish the area around the header with drywall, trim, or other finishing materials as desired.
It's important to follow building codes and structural requirements when building headers to ensure they are strong enough to support the weight load above the opening. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, it's recommended to hire a professional contractor who can help you.