I just bought a 1956 ranch house in Portland, OR and am facing an issue. I've gutted the bathroom for a remodel and it's down to the studs. There was a bit of water damage to the subfloor around the shower/tub so I decided to replace the whole thing.

In the process, I discovered the floor joists are approximately 5' on center 4x8 which is certainly not up to modern day code. On top of that is tongue in groove 2x6 decking for the subfloor. The floor is surprisingly sturdy but many people have already suggested that it would be smart to add more joists, especially since I'll be tiling the floor.

The old joists abut against the concrete foundation, kind of like a mortise and tennon joint (not sure what it's actually called). The foundation is in good condition and doesn't have any cracks and looks dry. The joists span what looks to be the entire length of the house with 4x4 pier supports every 6' or so.

My question is what's the best way to add new joists to the space between the old ones? I guess I need to make a sill against the concrete for which I can attach the new joists. I can't see myself running new 2x8 joists across the entire length of the house, so I was thinking I could go a few feet past the length of the bathroom, using pier supports along the way with concrete pier blocks beneath, and then block off their ends between the original joists. Is that a structurally sound way to do this?

It sounds like my whole floor will need more reinforcement at some point but like I said, it all seems really sturdy for the time being. There aren't any significant sags or bounciness that I can find.

Here's a short video of a walk through the bathroom if it helps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb59H0MT3bo (sorry for a couple f bombs! my dirty rotten mouth)

1 Answer 1


What you are calling a floor joist, appears to be much thicker than a 2x floor joist. Maybe like a 4x8 or something. So it's probably a "bearer" resting on the piers, which would explain why they are far apart. Typically you would then rest floor joists across those beams, (or use Simpson hangers if the floor needs to be nearly flush to the beams -- which is your situation).

This is typical ...

enter image description here

This is where you need to be with Simpson joist hangers:

enter image description here

Can you measure the thickness of the wood that you are calling a floor joist (which is really a bearer)? Also, that beam that is notched badly is not good (most likely). This would be the time to address that notch, which is fortunately very close to the wall. Can you measure the depth of the cut on that notch?

An easy way to do that would be to set a pier underneath the bearer so that no notched portion of the bearer is under stress.

Once you have addressed making sure that the bearer is properly supported, you can then hang joists between the two bearers you showed with joist hangers. Then you would put the subfloor and whatever choice of flooring you want on the joists.

  • Man this is exactly what my plan was originally, but other places I asked, no one noticed that maybe what I called "joists" aren't actually joists. The dimensions are indeed 4x8 for what you are calling a "bearer." (I actually said the dimensions in my original question). I also found this in the code guide for my city about T&G flooring spans... it looks like 2x decking actually CAN span 5' and be to code, if I'm interpreting that correctly. Here's an image from the code imgur.com/z7dDVGS
    – tbox
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 21:54
  • Ah, yes, I was confused with 4x8 in your original post. If I went back and reread it, it would have made perfect sense. Let me look up the span tables, I will post a link to the table I use.
    – alfreema
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 8:43
  • Yes, your tongue and groove was likely to code. But if you want to replace it with more typical floor joists, you can use this span table: southernpine.com/span-tables/joists-rafters
    – alfreema
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 8:54
  • Assuming you use southern yellow pine, you can safely use 2x6s, spaced 16" apart (16" o.c.). Normally you would need to know your required Live Load, but 2x6 can span 6' 3" and meet 100 psf Live Load (commercial) requirements. Just buy #2 or better lumber when you buy it. I'd make sure you support that notched beam first though.
    – alfreema
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 9:01
  • Awesome, thanks so much for the help! The live load requirements are 40 psf. Anything over that short of a span should be perfectly fine. This is great... now I can do under my kitchen too! Would sistering that notched beam be acceptable or should I put a new post under it?
    – tbox
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 16:39

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