We're remodeling a room with a severely undersized doorway - it is much shorter than the standard 6'8", so much so that I hit my head on the jamb if I don't duck when walking through it.

After demolition, I discovered a "header" (circled in red) with a good amount of empty space between it and the top plate:

False header above door

It seems to just be toenailed into the king studs on the side, and isn't supported by anything except the thin jamb strips. Therefore, I doubt it is doing much in the way of supporting or bracing this wall in any way.

Can I just remove this "header", and move the jamb to the bottom of the top plate? Or do I really need to install a new header+jack studs? This is a single-floor house, and the only load on this wall is (perhaps) the roof above. It seems to me like the doubled-up top plate and king studs are more than enough to support the load.

A bigger picture:

bigger picture

  • 2
    I should wait for one of the framing experts, but I am sure you are right that this member is supporting nothing. It doesn't even deserve the term "header". The thinner boards on the sides could also be removed to make the rough opening wider if necessary. What is the distance from the floor to the underside of the top plate? What is the width inside the two 2x_ studs.? What size door do you want to put here? Are these 2x4 or are they 2x6 studs? Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 18:52
  • @JimStewart looks like floor-top plate is 78", stud-stud is 25.5". I don't really care what size door, as long as it's tall enough. The room will be a laundry room, so I need enough width to get the washer and dryer through the opening.
    – alexw
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 19:00
  • A laundry room door should be at least 30" wide and really 32" wide. It looks like three stud widths of 2x_ lumber on the right could be removed, leaving only the dark colored stud on the right. Along with removing the old door jamb this would gain 5.5 inches. You need to gain at least 6" and more like 8" or 9" to make a rough opening suitable for a 30" or 32" pre-hung door. Framing experts should make comments/give answers. Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 12:23
  • Looking at this question again over two years later...it was definitely just a piece of blocking for drywall and the top jamb, probably to size the rough opening down for a reused door. This spring we'll be tearing this entire room off to build an addition ourselves. If you ever want to learn construction, buy an old house that's been "flipped" many times - you'll learn a lot about what NOT to do!
    – alexw
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 2:03

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can remove that. Its purpose was solely to support drywall and whatever door or trim was installed. It is a header, just not a load-bearing variety. If it was there would be something transferring load from the plate above, and it would be taller.

Modern code aside, you may find that a pre-hung 24" door (should you find one available) slides right in after your rough opening height adjustment. If you can't find one, it's not too difficult to reduce a wider door and jamb.

  • I'll probably make the doorway wider while I'm at it, since I need to get the laundry machines in. Why on earth would someone make a door so short, especially when there is so obviously extra space available above?
    – alexw
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 19:18
  • 1
    Darn good question. Maybe they had a door on hand they wished to repurpose.
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 19:20
  • Quite plausible, actually. Everything in this house seems to be made of leftover scraps from other projects. We even discovered one wall that was composed as a "mosaic" of leftover drywall scraps!
    – alexw
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 19:23
  • 1
    @JimStewart that horizontal beam up top is a ceiling joist, not a rafter.
    – alexw
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 19:47
  • 1
    I agree with @isherwood it’s not a load bearing header...it’s merely to provide a place to nail off wall finish.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 20:30

Of you're planning on or already have permitted your remodel and frame all inspection is required...the double top plate is a strong indication to me that this is in fact a load bearing wall. Without knowing your overall wall height...you would need a minimum 2x6 header over the span you are wanting to create. Recommend a double 2x6 syp header with a 1/2" flitch plate (flitch plate is just 1/2" ply or osb and serves to make your header 3 1/2" wide to match your wall with). Width of opening should be 37" king stud to king stud and you should place a 2x4 Jack stud each side to support the new header giving you and overall rough opening of 34" to accommodate a 2868 door (rough opening should be 34"x82 1/2" When opening is completely framed out) Hopefully your wall height will allow the existing 3" double top plate and the new 5 1/2" header and still allow the 82 1/2" rough framed height. If your wall height, from floor to ceiling is a minimum of 91" you should be good to go. Good luck to you

  • 2
    I just had an addition built. Every interior wall has a double top plate to match the height of the exterior walls even though they are in no way load bearing. Doubled top plate is not an indicator. It passed inspection just fine.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 11:58
  • 1
    Also, single top plate load bearing walls are very much a thing in Advanced (OVE) Framing construction Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 13:03

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