I'm replacing a damaged beam under my house with bricks under each floor joist. The bricks are 15mm lower than the original beam. I've been told to use roof slates to pack the rest of the height.

I'm slightly skeptical due to slates being brittle. Could I use synthetic slates instead?

I've read about dry hard packed mortar but that isn't an option for me.

What other materials are used for packing in these instances?

  • When you say packing you are talking about supporting the beam, keeping it in place? Or are you talking about keeping it place temporarily? Or is it more cosmetic? – GdD Aug 23 '12 at 16:05
  • I'll remove the beam entirely, replacing the beam with a brick tower if you like for each floor joist (the joists are now resting on the beam that will be removed). So the bricks and packing will support the floor joists. – Brigante Aug 23 '12 at 16:18
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    Any reason you're not just replacing the beam? – Steven Aug 23 '12 at 16:27
  • How tall are the brick "towers"? It might make more sense to use Jack Posts. They come in a variety of sizes, and are adjustable. – Tester101 Aug 23 '12 at 16:34
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    @Johannes OK so this is what I'm picturing. You have a beam on the foundation. Which you want to replace with bricks like this? But you're not sure what to fill the gap with, is that correct? – Tester101 Aug 23 '12 at 17:25

Use stacked steel plates as shims. Use varying thickness's as required to ensure they are tightly packed and fully supporting the joist loads.

I'll assume the remaining structure of bricks and whatever is supporting them is properly designed and constructed, not just dry stacked (unless this is temporary, in which case do what ever works). If you live in a seismic area, the top of the bricks need to have a positive connection to the joists, not just shimmed. Your proposal sounds a bit sketchy on the surface, but it is possible to do this well and correctly, so I'll give you the benefit of any doubt and just answer your question.

  • Thanks bcworkz, yes steel is probably the way to go. I'm still considering just replacing the beam with a new one. If I can open the floor enough without breaking it that's what I'll end up doing. It's not a seismic area (London UK). – Brigante Aug 23 '12 at 17:18
  • Steel works, but wouldn't wood shims be cheaper? You can cut them the exact size you want, and even treat them if you think you need to. – dbracey Aug 23 '12 at 19:30
  • @dbtracey You would trust some wooden shims to support the weight of the walls of your house? Please tell me what you think would happen if you got them wet? If there was a small seismic disturbance? – maple_shaft Aug 24 '12 at 12:23

Steel shims would be a good temporary solution but if it were myself and I only needed a few, then I would order custom size bricks to fit the gap perfectly. It would be well worth the money and probably the only thing that would properly meet building codes in most areas and countries.

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