I have an exterior door in my 1940s era home that is not installed particularly well. The door opening has 3 joists that are over it and all of them have been sitting on only 1 horizontal 2x8. I found this out when I went to replace the sill plate from rotting and saw the way the door was "framed." There was no header other than the sill, and not being sure what to do I put back the new wood as it was and tried using some angle iron to help strengthen it temporarily, a long with leaving a temp post a couple of feet from the door on the most central joist.

Anyway, I feel it's time to properly fix that but wanted to bounce my idea off of people that may know more than me.

My current plan is to use a double, or probably triple 2x8 with two half inch plywood plates between them to make a header that will fill out the area between the inside of the sill plate and the outside rim board. (it is 1 by and is not at all structural). I plan for it to sit on top of the new sill plate. Then I plan to use joist hangers and cut the joists flush with the edge of the current sill plate, insert the new header on top of the sill plate, and use the hangers to catch the 3 joists directly over the doorway and also the joist on the right side of the doorway as I believe I need to cut it to get the proper amount of overhang on the brick to support the new header.

I hope I'm explaining my plan well enough that you all can understand it and give me advice. Is this a good course of action or do I need to look into something beefier?

The house is a single story house, the roof peek runs parallel to the wall the door is in. There is a window above the doorway in the living space, which is a bedroom. I hope this is enough info for some input.

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  • What are you going to do with that duct in the bay on the right of the door?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 10 at 16:05
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    Both sides of the window are outside the sides of the door? So any roof load has been handled by a header above that window? An exterior image capturing the window and door would be nice.
    – popham
    Commented Feb 10 at 17:15
  • The joists are 2x8s? I assumed based on your 2x8 header size, but it's not explicitly stated in your question.
    – popham
    Commented Feb 10 at 17:22
  • The window I would say is pretty much the exact same width as the door. Maybe a tad smaller so a lot of the weight of the roof will be negligible just based on the leverage if there is any. Maybe an inch or so from the wall opening edge inward. I may try to add an outside pic when it isn't pouring rain. I didn't think about doing that. Commented Feb 10 at 18:42
  • you might want to see what's going on with those pressure treated blocks between the joists.WHY ARE THEY THERE? Was the old rim joist rotted out from a leaking window above? Some things off here and you should find out why before moving ahead with the door header design. IMHO. Especially if your in this house long term. Taking a little extra time and money now to solve ALL issues, will be beneficial in the long run. Also what kind of siding is on the out side above that door. If you need extensive repairs it might possibly be easier to do this all from the exterior. Also that plate above the d
    – ray Nic
    Commented Feb 11 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


With the sill plate out of the way, the theory is that you can sneak the 2x8 into the cavity from below? Then install the sill plate below it? The header bears on wood, so IRC R502.6 prescribes a minimum bearing of 1.5" over the brick because it bears on the sill plate. I think your plan, then, is feasible. The sill plate bears on masonry, so IRC R502.6 prescribes a minimum bearing of 3" over the brick. Cutting that joist over the wall doesn't look necessary to achieve the minimum bearing requirements. You might skip the 1/2" spacer between header plies to give yourself a bit more wiggle room. Feel free to clip the header's corner to help get it in there (1-5/16" tall by 2-5/8" long is approved under IRC R502.8).

A single 2x8 header is sufficient given your window above this opening. The header above that window carries any load from above, leaving just floor load for your header. For carrying just the floor joists, the framed opening detail from IRC R502.10 allows for a single 2x8 header for 2x8 joists if the header's length is 4 ft or less.

You can hack Table R602.7(2) (the interior bearing walls table) under IRC R602.7 to find an adequate header that's shorter than 2x8. Substituting your joist span length for "building width" in that table will correctly size headers for you. If you use a shorter header to get it in there, consider adding shim material to press it up against the floor's underside. With the window's header picking up the roof load, it's not strictly necessary, but I would do it anyway.

  • I plan to pull off the siding and remove a section of rim board so I should have access to slide the header in from the outside. The only reason I planned to use the plywood was to woden the header to fully fill out the gap between the inside of the rim board and the width of the sill plate. If I don't have to catch the 4th joist though i don't have to worry about that as much. For some reason I thought the minimum length for load bearing was 6 inches on each side. Commented Feb 10 at 18:43
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    @diyatanycost, I think you can sneak that header in from below. Instead of putting it into the plane of the wall inside the doorway and trying to toggle it up into the spot, run the header along the inside of the wall and slide its end up into the cavity from below. If you can get 3" minimum of header in there before it binds side-to-side or vertically, the other end pops into the door way and you can now push it up. Finally, you have to slide it 1-1/2" back the other direction.
    – popham
    Commented Feb 10 at 19:06
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    @diyatanycost, for a 2 wythe brick wall, the bearing capacity should be fine. I'll link to IRC R502.6 in the answer to rationalize the 1-1/2" bearing and 3" bearing claims. Never short yourself in a land of plenty, so take more than 1-1/2" bearing if you can.
    – popham
    Commented Feb 10 at 19:17
  • Oh yes, I plan to build it as beefy as possible. I want this house to last another 80 years and then some so I plan to do it as well as I can. Thank you so much for the information and IRC references. You've been a great help! Commented Feb 10 at 19:58

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