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I wanted to replace a regular door with a pocket door, moving it almost a foot to the side. I didn't expect the wall to be load bearing, but it turns out to be. I'm trying to figure the correct approach.

  • The door has a header which is load bearing.

  • The area to the right of the door also has a header (extending over a nearby door).

  • The left side of the current door would need to be removed for another opening.

  • The pocket door would extend past the the door, on the right.

My question is: Can the header be shortened, supported and somehow joined to the one on the right? What support column do I need and how do I join them?

Overall view: enter image description here

Headers close-up: enter image description here

Back-side, showing the upper floor joist resting above the headers (please don't mind the current state of electrical and plumbing).

enter image description here

The leftmost part of the first picture is not load-bearing, it is just regular framing for interior walls.

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  • The leftmost part of the 1st picture (above "desired opening 1") is either 1) load-bearing exactly like the rest of that wall, or 2) not load bearing exactly like the rest of that wall. Unless, there's a beam directly above that door with all its weight resting on the door header and carried down around the door frame. This would be something of a poor design, IMHO. If this is a load bearing wall, what's below it? Is there footing designed to take the weight, or is there a lower floor/basement with/without support columns here? Needs more detail.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 14, 2022 at 12:23
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    @isherwood the part on the right is the thinner model 28" opening pocket door (bathroom). A bit tight, but ok. The left part is a different enclosure, for a washing machine/dyer/drying cabinet. The red boxes I drew are not to scale, in fact, the supporting column for the header will move only about 8". But yeah, the answer below gave me enough idea to know what to ask the structural engineer.
    – Jeffrey
    Oct 15, 2022 at 1:27

2 Answers 2

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No, headers can't practically be joined. Nor is there a compelling reason to do so here. This project requires new headers of the correct size, and you need to support the framing above while you do the work. Obviously that as safety implications.

You also need to be sure that there's support for the new point load between the headers (and possibly those relocated points at the outsides. You'll have studs supporting two headers between the openings, so there should be framing through the floor system to transfer that load.

Otherwise it seems fairly straight forward. Beams on trimmer studs with king studs alongside. However, you should still have a qualified person look things over with you. There can be pitfalls with a major structural change like this.

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To create an opening for a pocket door where you would like it the beam (header) to the right which extends over the door to the right would need to be removed and lengthened to support the "pocket" area and opening area.

There is not an easy way to lengthen that wood beam so that it will span the entire opening. Possibly a structural engineer could come up with a way with bolts and heavy metal plates to extend the existing beam on the right to include your opening. This is my speculation and really needs an engineer involved. Even removing the beams and adding a longer beam to create the opening you want should have an engineers calculations to specify beam size, hardware needed, and evaluate the loads involved.

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