The second floor of our house has a fairly low ceiling, perhaps 6'8" or 6'10". The width of the structure is only about 16' with standard construction and the ceiling joists running parallel to to the gable walls.

I am planning to remodel the bathroom upstairs (complete gut job) and this gives me the opportunity to access the joists in this section of the structure. I would like to move the joists up 12" to create better head room (I'm 6'3" so the shower in the short ceiling bothers me).

I am thinking that if I move the joists one at a time by cutting them loose from the top plate and the roof rafters and then shortening them the appropriate length, they will move up nicely without affecting the structure at all.

There are no trusses, this is all an old stick-framed, farm house. I would even be willing to gusset the portion of the roof rafter that spans between the ceiling joist and the top plate if needed. The walls are balloon framed, but I don't think that makes a difference.


Hmmm....I went up to get a picture, and I realized that there is no ridge board! The vertical piece exists between each ceiling joist and roof rafter pair. This makes me a little more hesitant.

Click for a larger view... Roof support structure

1 Answer 1


OK, lets start by correcting some terms. The structural members you want to raise are not rafters, they are ceiling joists. You are right that because you have balloon framed walls, that has no effect on the top layer of ceiling joists. Changing these joists have no effect on the balloon framed walls. The thing you have to determine is if the ceiling joists are tied to a load bearing partition somewhere near the center of the house. If you have full roof rafters with a ridge board, it is very unlikely that the ceiling joists are tied into any down supporting bearing wall. Raising them should not be a problem if you plan for support of these joists if there is any center resting point, via a knee wall on the center resting support. If these joists span the entire width of the structure, then you can safely shorten them and reconnect them to the roof rafters. They serve two purposes. First a ceiling joist, and second, a collar tie for the roof rafter. I think you will be fine, however, I'd love to see some pics of the attic area with the joists. Good luck.

  • ?? I thought I said ceiling joists in the title? There are no load bearing walls underneath, all the partition walls below are non-load bearing (a couple of them are even 2x4's framed "flat" so the wall is thinner)
    – Dave Nay
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 23:19
  • There are 2x boards that drop down from the ridge rafter to the ceiling joists, although it appears to be only every other one. I am assuming these are to prevent sag in the ceiling joists since they are only 2x6 spanning 16' (they are genuine 2x6 though...probably doug fir since the house is so old.)
    – Dave Nay
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 23:25

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