My office has a wall of closely spaced windows. I am looking to remove one window and replace with a swinging patio door. A 3'-0" door is easily framed inside this ~42" opening with a couple 2x4's to take up the slack. The catch is that I would like to have a light switch next to the door and there's just no room to fit anything.

This is a load bearing exterior wall. After poking a few small holes around the window I've concluded that each window was individually framed with it's own header, kings and jacks. This leaves maybe 1" of space between adjoining king studs. I drew up what I think I have behind the drywall: Interior elevation of my office

Am I correct in assuming there is no good way to cut into these king studs to fit an electrical box? The (unlicensed) engineer in me wants to assert that a strong metal box notched tightly between these kings would be quite strong but I'm guessing they don't make switch boxes designed to hold substantial loads and this would be a big no-no.

If this is correct then I think my only solution is to re-frame the door from scratch (i.e., remove all the dry wall between adjoining windows). By my calculation this would leave me with just over 3" between adjoining kings:

37.3125” rough opening (between jacks)
40.3125” header length (between kings)
43.3125” across kings
Up to 3.344” between adjoining kings
50” between next kings
56” between next jacks (1/2” drywall)
57” between next windows

Here's what the re-framed solution would look like. I'm tapping into the circuit on the right because the one on the left has an open ground that I have yet to pin down and I want an exterior light fixture and a GFCI outlet installed. Proposed re-frame of door with electrical

Any other ideas or suggestions?

  • 2
    Why not think about a surface mount remote control switch?
    – bib
    May 2, 2017 at 14:24
  • 1
    The re-framed approach in the second diagram is the way I would approach the project. If the door is designed to swing into the structure you may want to reconsider the idea of placing an electrical outlet right next to the hinge side of the door jamb. Things plugged in there could get pinched as the door swung all the way in.
    – Michael Karas
    May 2, 2017 at 14:35
  • bib - I hadn't thought about remote control. Though my experience with remote control fans makes me very dubious.
    – Stanwood
    May 2, 2017 at 14:39
  • @MichaelKaras The junction box on the hinge side is only to avoid fishing back to the existing outlet further to the right. I was planning to leave a blank cover plate (no outlet) for the reasons you outlined.
    – Stanwood
    May 2, 2017 at 14:42
  • Ok. That makes sense. Limits how much sheet rock that you have to dig into.
    – Michael Karas
    May 2, 2017 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


I would re-frame the door opening, like you outlined, for several reasons:

  1. 41" is way to wide for a standard door, a special order exterior door this wide will cost a lot. It might be more cost effective to re-frame, so you'll be able to fit a standard size door (34" is quite wide enough).

  2. 80" high rough opening is a bit low for a standard-sized door. Standard doors are 80" high, but your rough opening needs to be higher.

You don't want stunted and fat door, it will look strange and not proportional, even if you can special-order door of these specific dimensions.

So, I suggest you buy (or at least know the exact dimensions of) your patio door first, and then frame the rough opening to accommodate it.

This is most probably a load-bearing wall... So, I'd also add a temporary stud in the center of the opening while replacing the existing studs on both sides.

  • Thanks for the feedback. Marvin makes a stock door sized down for these older 6'-8" openings: IIFD3065 X L: FS 36.3125 x 79.500, RO 37.3125 x 80.000. That's what I plan to use.You bring up a good point that I could go higher since I need to reframe. But tops of all the other windows and the patio door next to this one are at 80" RO so I'm inclined to lose 0.5" to conform.
    – Stanwood
    May 2, 2017 at 14:37
  • Well, if your door fits exactly, then most of my answer is not relevant. Still, I think it's better to re-frame, it would be easier to route the electrical cables as well.
    – haimg
    May 2, 2017 at 14:58
  • I still appreciate you agree the right thing to do is reframe for the narrower door width. i.e., there's not some other work around I'm missing.
    – Stanwood
    May 2, 2017 at 15:12
  • @Stanwood the part where you said "this would be a big no-no" is a very big hint as those studs are for loading - you notch it , you lose the strength of the studs - not just minimalistically either even if your box is super tight - you will have reduced support of the load.I am also guessing an inspector coming through might frown greatly on it as well. Your better off as haimg suggested - reframe it. The other method is of course quicker and maybe cheaper - a wireless light switch.
    – Ken
    May 2, 2017 at 17:15

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