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I bought a fridge that is much too deep (first time buying a new house/new appliances) and unfortunately the appliance place does not take exchanges or returns. I am considering recessing the fridge into the wall and framing a door would be practically what I would need to do. Everything is already finished including the cabinets that surround the fridge opening and I am hoping to not have to do anything too destructive. Working around/behind the cabinets would be ideal.

I've looked into putting door openings into load bearing walls and read about king studs/jack studs and their construction but am inexperienced in framing. I've also seen the charts on header size but just want to double check my numbers.

The fridge space is on the 1st floor of a 2 story home with a basement. The fridge would sit against an inner wall. The wall in question is framed by 2x6s and is one side of a set of stairs going to the second floor. The fridge is 36" wide. So if I am trying to figure out what I need to work with in terms of lumber and going of a building width of 36ft, I would need 2 2x8s for the header and 2 jack studs on each side of my span? Wood Wall Framing Chart

I understand I would also have to relocate the water line and outlet. Thanks in advance!

  • Depending on how oversized the fridge is, it may be simpler to sell the current one and just buy a smaller fridge, if the store won't take it back. – mmathis Nov 29 '16 at 22:32
  • That was one of the options I was considering. I tend to gravitate towards the challenge of doing things the hard way (maybe it's the satisfaction of completing the challenge) but yes this is likely what the wife will command me to do. – Dexter Nov 29 '16 at 23:02
  • How would being enclosed in the wall impact the condenser coils? – DJohnM Nov 30 '16 at 17:28
  • The fridge manual recommends a 2" gap at the back. Before I decided to leave the wall alone I was considering putting a wall return vent on the other side the drywall. – Dexter Dec 1 '16 at 5:20
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I see no problem with recessing this into the wall and if it gives you more fridge for the space, do it.

Things to think about:

  • Just overdo it. Buy a 2x12 from big box, cut it into the three pieces you need, put two jack studs on each side and a king, 3 cripples on top.
  • I would try to keep the drywall on the other side
  • If you have electrical you should put it in armor to protect it.
  • If you have a water line, I would protect it up the wall to a point - lots of ways to do this.
  • Make sure your fridge will lay flat. Since you are taking out a bottom plate, thinking that will be lower than floor. You will have to fill this in with flooring or some other stable material that will not move when pushing fridge in our out.
  • I don't see any benefit to using two jack studs. It looks like the chart the OP posted counts the king stud as a jack stud. You just need to make sure the jack stud is well-nailed to the king stud. Also, if you want to over do it, use 2x10s, :) – Edwin Nov 30 '16 at 0:33
  • @Edwin - I mentioned 2 jacks on each side because you have a load point that might have had 3 studs (or more), and wouldn't want that replaced with just 2. And 2x10s are fine but 2x12s costs about the same. I just overdo everything like this because it usually costs $5 to do so. – DMoore Nov 30 '16 at 0:55
  • Good answer... just to add, the OP will probably have to remove the cab above the fridge to get access to cut the studs back far enough to get a header in. (Or put a false back in it after cutting through the existing with a reciprocating saw...) One last idea: leave the bottom plate in place until you have the kings/jacks in place. Sledging the KJs in is easier when you have a continuous surface. – Aloysius Defenestrate Nov 30 '16 at 2:39
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    @Dexter - if you don't feel comfortable than hire someone but this is a DIY project. It is just 36 inches. You can certainly cut your kings first and place them on each side while cutting/knocking other things out but generally there is no issue with leaving a 40" gap for a couple hours in a load bearing wall. You certainly want to measure each side first to make sure you don't have sag after but I have done this many many times for doors on load bearing walls and never had sag before I put up the supports - and certainly don't leave it like this for days/weeks. cont... – DMoore Nov 30 '16 at 19:18
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    Also the 2x6 wall might be there to help carry the load but in all probability it is there to support a place to put plumbing and air vents. These things don't work with 2x4 construction - well certainly not with load bearing 2x4, so you use 2x6. This shouldn't freak you out. Perfectly normal for all houses to have 1-2 main stretches of walls at 2x6. Honestly it should take you longer to buy the supplies than to do this. It is about a one hour job with the right saws and nail gun - demo and reconstruction. – DMoore Nov 30 '16 at 19:21
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I found that I'd need proper permits to do anything structural legally. I would also likely need to have a structural engineer look at it due to the location of the wall - there are 2 beams, 1 longer one that runs from the front to back on the other side of my home and another shorter one that runs perpendicular and is aligned with the wall that I was thinking about working on. This beam is supported by a post close to the top of the stairs and very close to the fridge. This one post seems like it is supporting about half the home. Not the greatest place to learn framing.

I came to the decision rather quickly to leave the wall alone when a builder rep reminded me that my structural warranty would be void if any structural changes were made to the home and gave me a ballpark cost for it to be done properly. Ballpark cost making the price of a new fridge look like a steal.

So, the risk is worth much less than the reward. I will eat the cost from privately selling the brand new fridge and I have already ordered a smaller one.

It has been a very educational experience however and I am thankful for everyone's suggestions. I have learned quite a bit. Thanks!

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    Not really sure this helps future people with the same problem. I would probably tell you the same thing if you came in to my inspection office and said I am going to make a hole in a structural wall (and you didn't seem sure about what you are doing). You shouldn't be taking out any structure except for moving 2 supporting studs. Your beams should stay in place with their headers. While I would certainly not void a home warranty for a fridge, cutting a door in a structural wall is not rocket science nor is it usually a need for an engineer. – DMoore Dec 6 '16 at 17:59
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Just to be clear - Are you referring to cutting the wall studs and installing a frame in the main load bearing wall that runs through the center of your house? Without adding any bracing on either side when you cut out the studs but before you add in the header?

Please seriously consider having a professional at least look it over and give you an estimate of the scope of work before cutting into your main load bearing wall. Putting a frame into a partition wall is not big deal but anyone that recommends to someone that has never done framing before to just start cutting into a main bearing wall is being irresponsible.

While the points on how to implement the frame are all valid there are clearly many additional considerations - and several details are not clear: For example the location of the Stairs - they're located on the opposite side of the wall that you are putting the door frame into? How will they be impacted? How much space are you needing - will 5" be enough? How much air space will the coils behind the refrigerator require?

As far as what size header to use and asking for tips - no issues with the answers. But asking an open ended question about this type of change without a lot more information - your not going to get a complete picture of the scope of the modifications needed.

  • Thanks. I was becoming more hesitant the more I investigated and learned what really is going on with the structure of this house. Yes, it is a probably one of the main load bearing walls. The fridge space is on the other side to the start of the stairs leading into the basement and very close to the beginning of the stairs. So much so that I don't believe I'd have room for drywall with jack studs attached to the 2 studs at the top of the stairs leading into the basement. A builder rep reminded me that I have a structural warranty for 7 years that would be void with any structural changes. – Dexter Dec 1 '16 at 4:44
  • If this wasn't a load bearing wall, the space gained would have been perfect. The difference between a standard sized fridge and counter depth model is about 5" or 6". But then again if it wasn't a load bearing wall, it would have 2x4s not the 2x6s I was finding. – Dexter Dec 1 '16 at 5:25

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