All About Header in Construction | What Is a Header in Construction | What Is the Purpose of a Header in Construction | When to Use a Header | How to Build a Header

All About Header in Construction

What Is a Header in Construction?

What Is a Header in Construction?

The very common term header might have been heard by you if any kind of residential framing is done by you previously. Here you will come to know construction work what is the header and its need is there.

In construction header is a type of beam that is installed over any kind of opening which will help in distributing the load placed on top to both sides.

Generally, the header is placed on top at a certain gap for providing proper support to the load above it. This is so placed since its absence will result from the load falling directly on the window or door and will result in damage or failure.

Framing members known as jack studs and king are present on the sides of the header. This material will help in the downward movement of the load to the foundation.

If you place and frame properly the header and studs then no load will be directly coming on the door or window, or whatever might be placed inside the opening other than the door or window.

You might think why is the header important, this is important because if this is not done then the builder will not be able to keep open long-spanned spaces for the creation of void.

This void is so created that doors windows or something if required. The requirement of headers occurs for normal structural load-bearing walls as the load is mainly placed on them only.

It is so said because non-structural walls will almost not carry any weight most of the time above the openings so there is no requirement of the header on them.

If any load-carrying situation occurs then non-structural ones will be considered load-bearing in nature. The size of the header is done based on your opening space available and the load that will be coming in that area.

Still, the standard size of the header is a 2*12 double header that is used for the openings of windows and doors. This is followed even though through IRC you will get several options for a header that will help in saving lumber and also minimize thermal bridging and for insulation space will also be saved.

After that, the designing of the king and jack studs is done in order to support the header.

What Is the Purpose of a Header in Construction?

What Is the Purpose of a Header in Construction?

For supporting the load coming on the top of the header placed on opening and avoiding it coming directly on the arrangements under the header. This arrangement is considered very similar to that of a beam and is a very important part of the structural arrangement of a structure.

Any opening present that will carry load a header must be applied so that windows and doors can be safely placed in the opening. Studs are placed on each side of the header, generally, a king stud along with a jack is placed.

This is so done so that the load can be transferred properly down to the foundation which will be received on top of the header.

By prospering framing no load will be received by the windows or doors and they will be distributed properly to the foundation through the studs.

This arrangement is very important since if the load is received by the door or windows it might lead to its total failure. Header will consist of a king stud along with a jack stud or trimmers which actually help in transferring the load to the foundation after passing through the cripple stud and sole plate.

After the load is received by the top of the header it will be going down the studs to a single bottom plate after that it finally goes to the bottom then the foundation.

The header should not sag or crack due to the reason of its size which is designed for both types of loads that are placed on top and the span of the header.

It is the objective of the jack and the king to keep the opening rigid and strong. On the basis of the load that is carried, the designers try to design the number and size of the king and stud.

In general, one king and two studs are used for supporting the headers. If too much support is given that is not bad but it will increase the cost, whereas very little support will lead to failure.

Also Read: All About Rim Joist | What Is a Rim Joist | What Are Rim Joists For | Rim Joist Size and Materials

When to Use a Header?

When to Use a Header?

Headers are so much important for structural framing since without them you will not be able to provide any open space in walls for the provision of doors and windows.

While the framing of the home is done there will be different uses for a header. Garage doors and Basement Balco doors can be placed above the door and window openings.

A header can be used on the sides of a set of stairs. For framing a stair opening between floors while the floor joists run into the stair’s headers are used.

Header will not be required when there is a very narrow door or window for fitting between the studs on the layout. If a window is less than 22 inches wide you will not be requiring a header just installing 2 head and sill boards for boxing out the rough opening.

It is not that header is only manufactured from wood, header can also be made from other types of materials like steel and masonry.

What’s the Difference Between a Header and a Beam?

What’s the Difference Between a Header and a Beam?

Technically both header and beam are similar, a header is a kind of beam. Although being a type of beam, a header is not called a beam. The usage is the main thing that creates the difference, any beam if placed on a wall opening is known as a header.

Also Read: Daylight Vs Walkout Basement | What Is a Daylight Basement | What Is a Walkout Basement | Daylight Vs Walkout Basement Cost

What Are Headers Made Of?

What Are Headers Made Of?

Although headers are generally made of wood. Whereas, they can also be made from steel, engineered wood as well as masonry. Header can be considered as a kind of beam.

Carrying the load and spanning over a distance are the two requirements satisfied by a beam. That is the reason why a header should be made accordingly strong enough to carry the load properly.

So, proper care must be taken to size the required headers. The header would ultimately sag or fail if the header used is small in spanning length to cover the overall length for carrying the load coming on top of the header.

Commonly found timber or engineered lumber is used for making headers in many of residential constructions. Double 2*10 or double 2*12 is the very common sizing used for the header.

With the increment in span size and depending on the load coming the thickness of the beam should be increased. If the load coming is of great intensity and the span to be covered is of huge length then only steel is a required material to be used for the header.

It is otherwise commonly not used. There is no requirement for steel beams above windows and doors in many residential buildings. For large spans in many modern buildings steel is used for homes with walls of glass.

Concrete along with steel rebar reinforcement is used for making masonry beams. They are able to carry heavy load intensities as they are quite strong and are able of spanning over long distances.

These things are not so much common in many residential buildings. Lintel is the type of header that is used by maximum designers in residential work above the doors and windows.

The sizing of the lintel is done in such a way that it spans over the required distance and is able to carry the desired load above them. For strengthening the lintel many times, a masonry lintel along with steel is used.

Also Read: All About Concrete Flatwork | What Is Concrete Flatwork | Concrete Flatwork Design | Common Examples Of Concrete Flatwork | What Does Concrete Flatwork Cost

How to Build a Header?

How to Build a Header?

It is a very easy job to build a wooden header. Standard lumber or engineered lumber is generally used for the header. Double 2*10 or double 2*12 is the most common sizing that is used for building homes.

Two lengths of lumber are used and then they are nailed together for building one header. Between the lumber, a sheet of plywood is used for giving more strength to the header.

If your wall studs are 2*6 then it helps in padding the wall which will make the installation process easier on drywall also. Just like traditional lumber engineered beams can be either nailed together or can be ordered to the desired thickness.

After making the required header it has to be placed above the opening and then properly support with the help of jack studs. The number of jack studs will be determined by your engineer or architect.

Normally many use at least 2 jack studs and 1 king stud per side. Under the header, jack studs are properly installed. They help in transferring the load coming on top of the header down to the wall plate and foundation.

For the creation of stability to the wall opening and stability creation of the structure underneath alongside the jack studs king studs are properly installed.

Above the header are installed cripple studs if there is any space between the top plate and the beam. In order to make the beam fatter lumber can be installed directly on top of or below the beam.

This is not generally considered as a structural member it is used as a nail for drywall or trim. A blueprint must be created showing the details of what sizing lumber should be used for all the headers.

A list of nailing schedules must be made for showing how the beam should be nailed together. Gluing the lumbers together may also be required in many cases.


What Is a Header in Construction?

A header is a single member composed of two or more wood members, securely attached together and used to transfer loads above openings. Headers are used to create openings for windows, doors, and interior passageways. They serve a significant structural purpose.

Do You Need a Header on a Non Load Bearing Wall?

Load-bearing headers are not required in interior or exterior nonbearing walls.

Header Vs Beam

A header is a type of beam. So they’re technically the same thing. However, even though a header is a beam it’s not called a beam. When a beam is used above an wall opening it becomes a header.

What Is the Purpose of a Header in Framing?

Headers are used to create openings for windows, doors, and interior passageways. They serve a significant structural purpose. Since windows and doors cannot support weight other than their own, the weight of above these opening must be collected and redistributed to adjacent studs.

What Size Header for 8 Foot Span?

A single flat 2-inch by 4-inch member may be used … for openings up to 8 feet in width” (R602. 7.4). In essence, the code doesn’t require a header unless the end of a floor joist, roof rafter, or truss lands on that wall or there’s a concentrated load bearing over the opening.

What Size Header for 4 Foot Span?

What size of header do I need for a 4-foot door? You need a 4″ × 4″ door header for a 4-foot door. For the length of your door header, It would be best to cut your 4″ × 4″ lumber to the size of 4 feet or 48 inches plus 3 inches to accommodate the thickness of the jack studs that will support your door header.

What Is a Joist Header?

Header joists – A header, or rim joist, is used to frame an opening in the floor. It provides lateral stability. Floor joists – Floor joists are large wood framing members that are positioned on their narrow ends. They are evenly spaced and are connected to the sill plate.

How Far Can a 2×10 Header Span Without Support?

A 2×10’s maximum span depends on where it’s used. According to IRC 2021, a 2×10 with 16-inch spacing can span up to 18′-9″ as floor joists, more than 26′ as rafters and ceiling joists,4′-3″ as beams, and 7′ as headers without providing additional support.

How Far Can You Span a Double 2×6 Header?

According to the International Residential Code 2021 (IRC), the maximum length a 2×6 can span as a floor joist is 12′-6”, as a ceiling joist is 20′-8”, as a rafter is 18′-0”, as a deck board is 24′, and as a deck joist is 9′-11”.

How Do You Calculate Header Beam Size?

It went like this: Measure the span in feet and add 2 to that number. The sum will be the height of your double header in inches. For example, if the span is 4 feet, add 2 to 4 for a sum of 6. Therefore, the header would need to be made from doubled 2x6s.

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