My "new" 72-y/o house is... interesting. The garage is much younger but still I just raise my eyebrows at some things.

One of them is the loft/attic area in the garage. I wanted to move all my computer hardware up there, of which there is a LOT. But just walking down the middle of the floor got me uncomfortable. It deflects too much.

The previous owner used 2x6 as joists, nailed (3x) to the side of the 10' stud ~8' up. The span is 15.5' ... since the ends are not on a sill and nailed IDK if the full 16' would be considered as the span. Regardless, SPF 2x6 with 16" spacing are rated for about a 9.5' span.

I'm trying to avoid removing and reinstalling the floor if possible. My intention was to double up the joists in 5 evenly spaced spots (every 3 stud spaces)... I'll do everyone if needed though. I can't find a span calculator with arbitrary spacing or joist dimensions.

Would this work? What is the resulting span from doing this?

My intention is 2x6 joist - 2x4 stud - 2x6 joist. I'm using it for business purposes but want it to remain usable as a garage whenever I leave this place.... so no beams and posts down the center.... if the thought had occurred to you. :)

Update - Picture Garage interior showing joists

  • You say “10’ stud, nailed 8’ up.” Isn’t your question about joists?
    – Lee Sam
    Mar 16, 2019 at 0:01
  • Spans are calculated based on “clear” distance from bearing point to bearing point. What is your span? 15.5’, 16’, ??
    – Lee Sam
    Mar 16, 2019 at 0:03
  • What does , “2x6 joist - 2x4 stud - 2x6 joist?” Are there studs up to roof between joists? (Picture would help.)
    – Lee Sam
    Mar 16, 2019 at 0:07
  • My question is about joists. That is their positioning on the studs in the wall. Probably extraneous info. For practical purposes/error of margin 16' is fine. Technically it's ~15.75' Mar 16, 2019 at 0:08
  • Yes, regarding your 3rd comment. Mar 16, 2019 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


There are several issues: 1) true load on joists, 2) true existing joist size, 3) joist spacing, 4) joist bearing/ support,

1) The Code requires a minimum of 40 psf for usable loft/attic rooms. However, the equipment you describe could easily exceed that amount, but that load would be near the perimeter of the room probably. You have about 2’ of head room on the rave sides, but could be substantially higher on the rake sides. (“10’ stud nailed 8’ up.”) of course the sides with substantially more load will require substantially more support. So, a uniform joist installation will probably not be sufficient.

2) The existing joists appear to be 2x8’s not 2x6’s. However, I’ll use your notation.

3) Existing joist spacing appears to be 16” o.c. (To match stud spacing.)

4) Existing joist support is in shear (balloon framing) with 3-16d (I assume) at each existing joist. Additional load will require additional support.

So, in order for the new attic load to be transferred to the footing, the new joists will need to be secured to the existing studs, (because there is no double top plate).

Without knowing the actual load from the equipment, I’ll assume a minimum of 50 psf plus an additional 30 psf along the gable ends.

I’d sister 2-2x6’s to the existing 2x6’s (1 on each side of the existing 2x6). I’d add a 2x4 under each joist down to the sole plate.

Along the gable end, I’d add 2-2x6’s on each side of the existing 2x6 joists for the first 2 spaces (32” or 2 joists) with 1-2x4 under each added joist. (I’m assuming the first joist will be nailed to the studs on the gable end.)

Btw, with that much equipment, you’ll need to consider adding cooling equipment too.

  • Would a balloon framing style ribband / ledger (under the joists, face nailed to the studs) work in place of the 2x4's under the joists to the floor? In balloon framing these were usually let into the studs with notches to keep the wall flat, but I'd think face nailing could be adequate. Dec 11, 2019 at 16:38
  • 1
    @batsplatsterson The load at each stud is: 40 psf x 15.5’ x 1.33 for 16” on center / 2 for each end = 412 lbs. minimum. A 16d nail can resist about 100 lbs depending on the species and grade of ledger and stud. So, it would take about 4 - 16d nails at each stud. That could easily split the stud.
    – Lee Sam
    Dec 11, 2019 at 17:08
  • excellent answer, thanks. Follow up question - would the face nailing of the joist to the stud share any of that 412#? Dec 11, 2019 at 17:16
  • 1
    @batsplatsterson Yes, depending on the nailing. In fact, your 2x4 ledger could work using 2 - 16d nails with the remaining load taken by the face nailing into the stud.
    – Lee Sam
    Dec 11, 2019 at 17:27

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