These 2 x 4 is run the width of my two car garage above the ceiling joists. They are nailed into each ceiling joist. Do they provide some structural support or stability, or can I remove them put down plywood for storage? I suspect they were there temporarily for initial house framing, but I’m not sure. enter image description here

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    It looks like a 2x6. Because it’s on “edge”, it’s likely that it’s holding something up. Is it braced “up” to roof joists/truss at mid-span? – Lee Sam Mar 25 '18 at 16:57
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    I believe the combination of a 2x4 and a 2x6 is called a "strongback" or "strong back". It is NOT temporary bracing during construction, but is intended to permanently strengthen the ceiling joists by tying them together. if you want to floor the attic, I think the safest course is to leave the strongback in place and add plywood around it. "A strong back is a member that is made up of a 2 x 4 nailed flat on top of the ceiling joists. Then a 2 x 6 is stood up vertically and nailed to the side of the 2 x 4. This is to strenghten the ceiling joists and help to hold them straight." – Jim Stewart Mar 25 '18 at 18:11
  • @JimStewart To me, a “strongback” runs perpendicular to the main supports. However, we’re both probably saying the same thing...it’s some kind of support, and I suspect (with the main supports laid flat,) it can only support the ceiling finish. – Lee Sam Mar 25 '18 at 20:20
  • @Lee Sam it looks to me like this house of especially high quality construction--the lumber and the carpentry. Though if you are used to Douglas fir framing lumber, first quality pine may not impress. – Jim Stewart Mar 25 '18 at 21:34
  • Strongbacks aren't usually installed in ceilings. They're most common with engineered floor truss systems. I can't tell what that is from the photo, which lacks context. – isherwood Mar 25 '18 at 22:25

I'd leave them in place and add a few more 50mm x 50mm (2" x 2") at 600mm (24") centers from the originals, thicken out the insulation to come up to the top of them and then plywood out (assuming the headroom isn't disastrous...).

That way everything is happy and you save some heat loss...

Plus, if they are nailed in two directions, (into the ceiling joists and into the vertical bearer) they will be very difficult to remove and you could easily damage the ceiling below...

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