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I am trying to determine the cost, effort and complexity of adding sidelights to an entrance way that currently does not have them.

Would the entire front door way need to be re-framed, header, king/jack stud combination. Or do sidelights sit on the sides of the king/jack stud combination and so less re-framing is required.

[king][jack][Sidelight][ Door ][Sidelight][jack][king]

OR

[Sidelight][king][jack][ Door ][jack][king][sidelight]

  • Just to be clear, you're talking about narrow vertical windows (probably stained glass or somehow patterned) on either side of your door, right? (I was first thinking about some sort of lamp...) – Daniel Griscom Dec 7 '15 at 22:49
  • Yes that is what we are talking about. If i am using the wrong term please let me know. – treeNinja Dec 7 '15 at 22:53
  • If I Google Image "front door sidelights" I get lots of doors with tall narrow windows next to them, so it's clearly the right term. I just didn't recognize it, and others may not as well. On the other hand, I have no idea how doors are framed, and perhaps the other "sidelight Philistines" may also not be helpful. Perhaps if you added a picture of what you envision, that would help all of us. – Daniel Griscom Dec 7 '15 at 22:55
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A door is held up by hinges in the jamb (the broad boards surrounding the door, perpendicular to the surface of the wall). The jamb is thin material, usually a little over 1/2 inch thick, but it is firmly nailed to the jack stud, which gives it rigidity, as does any casing added between the jamb and the wall. The header also sits on the jack stud.

While you might theoretically be able to move the king studs to the outside of the sidelights, you cannot move the jack studs outward. This would render the jamb the total support of the door (unacceptable) and would extend the span of the header (undesirable, often requiring a deeper header).

Also the king studs, which tie the king/jamb/door structure into the bottom and top plates would be further apart, reducing the rigidity of the structure nearest the door, where most of any flex occurs. Finally, any molding joining the jamb to the sidelights would likely be much narrower than traditional casing, again reducing rigidity.

Unless there is a compelling reason to narrow the vertical spacing between the door and sidelight, go with full stud/sidelight/king/jack/door ...

Even if there were a compelling reason, engineers and inspectors might disagree.

An exception might be for a sidelight/door/sidelight structure designed as a unit.

  • So it sounds to be this is a rather complex and costly operation and should not be considered then? – treeNinja Dec 8 '15 at 13:59
  • Actually, if there is room in the walls toward the outsides of the king studs, it is easier to add sidelights without disturbing the existing door and its framing. You only need to remove the casing, cut out the drywall where the sidelights will go, run new studs outside the space for the sidelights, attach sidelights to old king stud and new side stud, add a small header over the sidelights, put back drywall, add casings. – bib Dec 8 '15 at 14:05
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sidelights are normally built into the door assembly these days. that means you have to frame the opening (header, jacks, kings, whatever) to accommodate the unit you want to install. if you want to retrofit an existing doorway rough opening, you could add sidelights beyond the existing door framing by adding new kings and jacks and headers, and then deal will all the fit and finish issues that go with making sure all the casings line up. however, thats usually more complicated than just opening up the existing rough opening and putting a wider header and its associated supports to accommodate a new factory built assembly

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