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Just before installing a sliding glass patio door today in our self-built home, we measured the rough opening and it is 1-3/4 inch too short for the height of the slider. (The slider is 6 feet wide by 6 feet 6 inches tall.) How this happened is anyone's guess. At any rate, we have two choices (I think):

A. We completely remove the header and the cripples above it, reduce the height of the cripples by 1-3/4 inch, and use shims and a 2x6 piece cut to fit in under the left and right sides of the header on the jack studs to increase the height of the rough opening by the necessary amount.

Or,

B. We use a Sawzall to cut off the bottom 1-3/4 inch of the header across its length.

Problems we see with both fixes:

A. This is a load-bearing roof-end wall. Even if we work fast, there is the potential for sagging once the security and strength of that header is completely removed from the framing. Can we possibly hold it up with temporary framing while we do what we need to do before replacing the header in its new position? Use a wall jack? (We don't have a wall jack.)

B. We used three 2x10s with 1/2 inch plywood sandwiched between to create the header. Taking 1-3/4 inch away from the header will, in essence, create a 7-1/2 inch header. Is that strong enough over the six foot width of the door to sufficiently support the roof?

There could absolutely be another fix we're not seeing...we're not builders by trade.

  • Custom sliding patio doors? Seems an expensive fix, and completely out of our budget. – Lisa Gergets Oct 24 '20 at 23:47
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    If this were my home, I'd do it right. Support the opening and remove the header. Rebuild it to give you the correctly sized opening and re-install. You'll sleep batter at night knowing it's not a kludge-job. If you don't have the right jacks, rent them for the day this will take to complete. – jwh20 Oct 24 '20 at 23:53
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    3-2x8 over a 6' span sounds pretty burly, but you'd want someone with engineering abilities to double check that. In practice, cut the middle 5' out, leaving the ends fully supported. Put a post in the middle and the end that you're about to cut. Pull off the jack stud. Finish the cut on that end. Install a new jack. Repeat on the other side. PS, a modest hydraulic jack is relatively cheap and frequently useful. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 24 '20 at 23:56
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    support the ceiling with a couple of cross beams ... each one supported by a jack on the outside and a jack on the inside ... i would then cut 1 3/4 inch off the cripple studs before disassembling the header ... you could clamp the cripple studs to a horizontal beam, to keep them from moving around while you cut – jsotola Oct 25 '20 at 2:34
  • "and use shims and a 2x6 piece cut to fit in under the left and right sides of the header on the jack studs to increase the height of the rough opening by the necessary amount." NO. As Marcus said, replace the jack studs. – Alaska Man Oct 25 '20 at 18:39
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You’re better to go with Option C which you haven’t thought of. Those jack studs will need to be replaced as well. Not sure about the codes where you’re at, but I’m not aware of any region that would allow you to scab on to the top of the jacks to fill in the gap between them and the header. Everywhere I’ve built in my 25+ years in the industry requires a solid mechanical connection between the header and bottom plate, which is also sistered to the king studs.

You’ll need to build a temporary wall as close to the opening as possible to carry the weight while you work. Then remove the header and both jacks, and redo everything to be the right height.

In the future, you’re better off making rough openings taller when you’re not sure about the needs of a particular door or window. You can even put your header all the way up to the top plate and have your cripples come down to a 2x4 (or 2x6 depending on your studs) nailer. Either way you do it, the header carries the load across the door/window.

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