How to frame a window, build window headers and door headers (2023)

lar Skills carpentry Marco

Updated: January 17, 2018

    These wooden “bridges” allow you to create many large openings without weakening the walls.

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    How to frame a window, build window headers and door headers (1)family handyman

    Want to add a new window or door to a weight-bearing exterior wall? We'll explain how headboards work and give you some tips on how to design the opening to support the weight of your home. You will learn how to assemble king and jack pins and see how they connect to the header. And we'll show you the three best styles of headboard materials: solid, engineered and laminated wood, and I-beam wood.

    By the DIY experts at The Family Handyman Magazine

    Several days

    Introduction to the construction of walls.

    Whether remodeling, adding, or building “from scratch,” we do everything we can to build strong, stable, and durable walls. We then cut opening after opening to accommodate the large windows, front doors, and patio doors that we love. Strange, yes. But if we create these openings in the right way, we should never fear that our walls or houses will collapse. And that "right way" means using the structural support system that has been developed over the years to keep our homes strong and happy. See why drill large window openings and what you need to know the next time you add or renovate your home.

    Headers – think of them as bridges

    How to frame a window, build window headers and door headers (2)

    (Video) How To Build Headers For Door And Window Opening

    Figure A: Headers

    The headers take the weight of the materials and occupants above and transfer it through the trimmers to the floors and foundations below. Longer openings require larger heads. Load-bearing walls (those that support the weight of beams and trusses) require larger headers than non-load-bearing walls.

    For a larger version of Figure A, see Additional Information below.

    If you were to put on those old Marvel Comics X-ray glasses (you know, the ones that can see through anything) and look around your doors and windows, you'd see something amazing. Above each window and door, you'll find a sturdy wooden bridge, and at each end you'll find supporting pillars. These bridges are not glamorous like the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge, but they are very important. It is the structural elements that allow us to install windows and doors without weakening the walls.

    In the real world of architects, carpenters, and loggers, these bridges are called headers (Fig. A). The vertical studs that support each end (usually made up of 2x4s or 2x6s) are called studs and trimmers (or stud jacks). In most wood frame homes, the headboards are made from trim-installed dimensional lumber. Kingpins driven into the end of each headboard and sideboards that fit just below the headboard combine to create a strong vertical support column. Together, the headers, head studs, and trim act as a system that transfers weight from above, below, and around window and door openings to the floor and foundation below. The greater the distance a platform covers and the heavier the load it supports, the more substantial it must be. Undersized decks will tilt, compressing windows and doors and making it difficult to operate. They will also crack the drywall and distort the finish. There is no simple rule to determine exactly how long a header should be. But you have to get it right when you proceed with this how to frame a window design.

    Hey Einstein, how big should this header be?

    Figure B: Example header size calculation

    The header size is required to support the roof, roof, and a 28-foot center support floor. great building; 30 pound snow load.

    header sizeMaximum Extensionnumber of players
    Doble 2×64 on, 0 pole.1
    Doble 2×85 sps, 0 pol.Of the
    Doble 2×106 velocidades, 2 polosOf the
    Doble 2×127 pesos, 1 pol.Of the

    (Based on the 2000 International Building Code)

    Calculating the size of the header is tricky as you learn to frame a window. You must consider: (1) the length of the window or door opening; (2) the combined weight of the floors, walls, and ceilings above; (3) the width of the building; (4) the snow load in the area; (5) whether it is a load-bearing wall (where the beams, trusses, and rafters rest) or a non-load-bearing wall (to which the beams, trusses, and rafters run parallel); (6) whether it is an external or internal wall; and (7) what type of wood you are working with. The 2000 International Building Code book contains two full pages of mind-blowing charts for calculating proper header sizes in different situations. Fig. B shows the maximum spans allowed for headers of different sizes in a single situation. Unsurprisingly, the deeper the header, the more distance it can cover. But trust me, you don't want to get into all the technical details. There is no simple formula. My advice is this:

    1. Ask an engineer or architect to calculate the required header size for window and door openings.
    2. Ask your local building code official to help you calculate the size of the header. It's usually not in your job description, but the good guys will help you.
    3. When in doubt, build a 2×12 double header sandwich as we explain below. In all but the strangest of situations, they will easily support the weight of 4 feet. wide window and door openings and, in most situations, meet code for openings up to 6 feet wide, a common patio door width.

    Calculating the size of the header is not an easy task while learning how to frame a window. These are the allowable ranges for header sizes in just one of hundreds of situations. If your renovation or construction plans were not prepared by an architect or structural engineer, work with your building code official to determine
    the correct header size.

    The header size is required to support the roof, roof, and a 28-foot center support floor. broad
    building; 30 pound snow load.

    The clever way I used to create headers

    My first job as a carpenter's helper was building the heads of the houses we were building. I would cut and nail "header sandwiches" consisting of two 2x12 1/2 in. offset between (Fig. A). This size worked well because:

    1. 3-1/2 in. finish thick (1-1/2 in. plus 1-1/2 in. plus 1/2 in.) 2 in.; see figure EL).
    2. When we installed the heads even with the top of the standard 92-5/8 in. in height, we set the appropriate height for windows and doors (Fig. A).
    3. Since the architects and engineers who designed the homes figured the 2x12 studs were deep and strong enough to span the largest opening (6 feet), they were certainly strong enough to span the largest number of small openings. By overbuilding, we carpenters could concentrate on building houses, without looking at complicated charts to determine window and door header sizes. This is everything a woodworker (and DIYer) could ask for in a deck: just the right thickness, height, and strength.

    Trimmers, cripples and sills complete the preliminary opening

    How to frame a window, build window headers and door headers (3)

    (Video) Learn how to frame a window ~ Building tutorials made easy

    Figure C: crippled pins

    The cripples help fill the space above headers and below thresholds. Install them in line with the other wall studs; make the 16 or 24 in. space for the plywood siding and drywall to start and end in the center of a cripple.

    Three more components are used to end started job headers:

    Clippers (Fig. A) fit and support each end of the header and are nailed to the main dowels next to them. Longer and more weight bearing heads require two or more sideboards to be supported at each end, and some openings require more than one kingpin. Again, check with your local architect, engineer, or code official to determine when you need to install additional trimmers or kingpins while learning how to frame a window.

    Sills (Fig. A) establish the bottom of the rough window openings (the clear opening required to install windows and doors). With large window openings, it is a good idea to use double sills (Fig. A) for strength and stability when framing a window.

    Crippled pins (Fig. A) fill the space between the sills and the 2x4 cleat plate below; they only support the weight of the window itself. Padding is sometimes installed over a window or door (Fig. C) to fill the space between the top of a header and the top of a wall. These carry weight. As a bonus, all that extra wood provides an ideal anchor for the nails used to install wood trim and framing, especially the wide materials.

    Big headlines for big openings

    Garage doors and other large openings require very strong headers made of standard wood. These manufactured wood products can cover greater distances and carry greater loads.

    Additional Information

    Tools needed for this project

    Have the tools you need for this how-to-framing-draw-window DIY project before you start will save you time and frustration.

    • Air compressor
    • air hose
    • circular saw
    • extension cord
    • extension ladder
    • framing square
    • Hammer
    • Level
    • miter saw
    • reciprocating saw
    • safety glasses
    • easels
    • Measuring tape
    • wrecking bar

    Materials needed for this project.

    Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your supplies ready ahead of time for this window framing project. Here is a list.

    • varies a lot

    Original message: January 16, 2018

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    How do you make a header for a door or window? ›

    Construct the Header
    1. Make a header by fitting two 2 x 8s around a 1/2-inch piece of plywood.
    2. Cut the header to fit between the king studs.
    3. Install a cripple stud between the header and the top plate, halfway between the king studs.
    4. Toenail the cripple stud to the top plate and the side of the header.

    What determines the size of the header over a window or door? ›

    You have to take into account: (1) the length of the window or door opening; (2) the combined weight of the floors, walls and roofs above; (3) the building width; (4) the snow load in the area; (5) whether it's a bearing wall (where joists, trusses and rafters rest) or a non-bearing wall (to which joists, trusses and ...

    How much do you add to a rough opening for a window header? ›

    A typical header width with single jack studs is cut 3″ larger than the rough opening.

    What size header do I need for a 36 inch window? ›

    For windows that span 36 inches or less, use two two-by-fours or one four-by-four. Since many windows are in the 24-inch to 34-inch range (width), this is a commonly used window header size.

    What size header for 72 inch opening? ›

    A 4" × 6" piece of lumber can span up to 72 inches if you want to use it as a door header. We get that value using the typical door header span chart or by multiplying the header's height (in this case, 6 inches) by 12, to get 6 inches × 12 = 72 inches .

    What is a good header size? ›

    The height generally for a home page header is around 600 pixels high. For a content page header, this might be slightly smaller at around 300 pixels. If a users browser is 1200 pixels wide and you've set your page header to 600 pixels high, your header will be displayed in a 1200x600 pixel area.

    How far from the top should the header be? ›

    Headers for all required pages must be consistently formatted; they should be the same size, font, and style, and located in the same position on each page. They must start at the very top of the page, on the first line below the 1-inch margin.

    What is the best header size? ›

    However, for a street car, Don recommends the following guidelines: 200-325 horsepower look for 1 1/2-inch primaries, 275-425 horsepower use 1 3/4-inches, 400-500 horsepower opt for 1 3/4 to 2 inches, and 500+ horsepower look for 2 inches or greater.

    How much bigger should the rough opening be than the window? ›

    Recommended rough opening is between 3/4" (19mm) - 1" (25mm) larger than the window width and height. Ensure that the rough opening is plumb, level and square, and the walls in the opening are not twisted.

    How thick should a window header be? ›

    Synopsis: Double 2×12 headers are still the standard for window and door openings, even though the IRC lists other options for headers that save lumber, minimize thermal bridging, and save space for insulation.

    What is a header framing? ›

    Overview. A header is a single member composed of two or more wood members, securely attached together and used to transfer loads above openings. Headers are used to create openings for windows, doors, and interior passageways. They serve a significant structural purpose.

    How do I size a window header? ›

    It went like this: Measure the span in feet and add 2 to that number. The sum will be the height of your double header in inches. For example, if the span is 4 feet, add 2 to 4 for a sum of 6. Therefore, the header would need to be made from doubled 2x6s.

    Can a header be too big? ›

    Even though the HTTP protocol does not have a maximum amount of data in requests, some servers have a size limit for security reasons. Your web browser will show a message when the request headers or a single header field is too large.

    Can I use 2x4 for door header? ›

    2-by-4-inch Header

    For an interior door, make a header with two 2-by-4s laid flat together, on the 4-inch faces (which actually are 3 1/2 inches but match the studs on either side). This double header goes between the king studs at the proper height for the top of the rough frame, nailed to the king studs on each side.

    How do you make your own header? ›

    Go to Insert > Header or Footer. Choose from a list of standard headers or footers, go to the list of Header or Footer options, and select the header or footer that you want. Or, create your own header or footer by selecting Edit Header or Edit Footer. When you're done, select Close Header and Footer or press Esc.

    Do you need a header above a window? ›

    Most window and door openings don't need typical headers resting on jack studs. Non-bearing wall openings less than 8 ft. wide don't need any header.


    1. All about headers in Wall Framing - Construction Trades Training Lesson
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    2. How To Build HEADERS for Doors and Windows
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