Author Topic: Steel vs Wooden headers  (Read 14231 times)

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Offline Sacha33

  • Posts: 2
Steel vs Wooden headers
« on: November 06, 2011, 07:17 AM »
I have a 13' deep by 17' wide lean-to unheated enclosed patio. I would like to rebuild the outside walls. The load bearing wall is only 78 inches tall. I am putting in two 6' windows. I need headers of two 2X10s. Can I use steel I-beams of a lot smaller size for the job? Could I use on a 2X6 wall three 2X6s instead? I am trying to keep the header as small as possible to maintain window height. I was even thinking three 2X6s with a steel angle iron inserted for extra strength. Thanks I would really appreciate any suggestions. I have researched this and checked the charts but I am afraid I can't make sense of them. Thanks Carol

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Offline Deansocial

  • Posts: 2114
Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 08:08 AM »
2x 2x6 with flitch plate maybe?

Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2011, 09:15 AM »
There really isn't enough info to give you good advice.  I'd suggest you call an engineer or architect.   
Check out my new blog, The Green and Dark Blue Blog.

Offline Holzhacker

  • Posts: 960
    • www.aic-chicago.com
Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2011, 10:05 AM »
Stop with the darn stacked 2x6's already. I am so sick and tired of people thinking they can stack a bunch of 2x6's together and it makes a strong header. I've replaced that installation more times than I can remember. IT DOES NOT WORK! I don't care if you put a flitch plate in it, 10 tubes or construction adhesive or a dozen 1" bolts. 2x6's work for window and door headers period, NOT wall beams. Can you tell yet I'm ticked? I run into this too often.
As far as a steel I beam, yes you can use it to save headroom. However a steel I beam is not just a steel I beam. Flange size and beam weight (W15, W20, etc) are all critical factors in determining whether a shorter height beam will handle the load requirements.
Am I understanding this correctly, 17' span. That's a long run. No regular lumber is going to be compliant for that. LVL or Truss but those will exceed your desired short height. Steel is probably the way to go but you need the right type of I beam.
Call an SE and get it spec'ed. It will cost but it will cost far less than when a picky inspector like me shows up and slams the install.
Good luck
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

Offline Sacha33

  • Posts: 2
Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2011, 10:55 AM »
This is the outside wall of a lean-to enclosed patio. The span of the outside wall is 17 feet but it will be constructed out of 2X4s or 2X6s. What I am questioning is the window headers. I will be putting two 6 foot windows in the wall putting in jacks and kings. I just want to keep the header above the window up to code but as short as possible so the window instillation will be as high as possible. The wall is only 78 inches high. The depth of the patio is 13 feet and is attached to the house. The space is unheated so a steel header would not be an issue. Thanks Carol

Offline Holzhacker

  • Posts: 960
    • www.aic-chicago.com
Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2011, 12:50 PM »
That's an important clarification.
2x6's typically are allowed around here for window openings up to 6' as per approved Plans. Over 6' typically requires 2x8's.
However, I am not in Canada and don't know squat about Canadian rules. I suggest you check whether your local municipality has it's own Code or is under the ICC Code. Lumber species, seismic variations and other local conditions will apply. You should call your local building dept. and ask them what the requirements are. You can usually get by without giving your address, at least around here. Also check to see if your local Muni has a website. Often times the local Code is listed on that website.
Once again I don't know squat about Canada besides its colder than here so my suggestions could be meaningless.
Good luck
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

Offline billg71

  • Posts: 167
    • Bill Graham Photography
Re: Steel vs Wooden headers
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2011, 08:11 PM »
I have a 13' deep by 17' wide lean-to unheated enclosed patio. I would like to rebuild the outside walls. The load bearing wall is only 78 inches tall. I am putting in two 6' windows. I need headers of two 2X10s. Can I use steel I-beams of a lot smaller size for the job? Could I use on a 2X6 wall three 2X6s instead? I am trying to keep the header as small as possible to maintain window height. I was even thinking three 2X6s with a steel angle iron inserted for extra strength. Thanks I would really appreciate any suggestions. I have researched this and checked the charts but I am afraid I can't make sense of them. Thanks Carol

OK, you're looking at a header span of 6'-7(6'4 for the window and 1-1/2" at each end for a jack). You're carrying 6'-6(half of the 13'-0) in roof load(plus the overhang which you didn't mention) so let's say a tributary of 8'. You also didn't mention the pitch,whether the ceiling is attached to the roof or the roofing material. Since you're in Canada I'm assuming there's a snow load but I don't know what your local conditions are so I'm shooting in the dark....

My beam calc program says: for the above span/tributaries and a 25 lb/sft snow load plus a 15 lb/sft dead load(the weight of the materials used in the assembly) your triple 2x6 in #2 Spruce/Pine/Fir(whitewood) won't go. If you can source Southern Yellow Pine it works with a double, with a max deflection of .206". If I bump snow load up to 40 lb/sft, it requires a double 2x8 SYP header. If I plug in an LVL, 2- 5-1/2" LVL's work for either load very well, much better than the SYP.

Pine 2x6's or LVL's are a lot cheaper than steel beams but you might get by with an even smaller beam and that's obviously a consideration, so it's up to you to decide. I'm sure there's a local steel yard you can get to and they should be able to spec out a beam for you.

If you want, PM me with an email addy and some details and I'll help you with this.

Best,
Bill

"Born to fish, forced to work..."