Introduction to Wall Construction

Whether we are remodelling, adding on, or building "from scratch," we put a lot of effort into building long-lasting, stable, and strong walls. In order to make room for the wide patio doors, entry doors, and windows—our favourite features that let in a lot of light—we keep cutting in openings one at a time.

Yes, it's strange. However, if these openings are constructed correctly, neither our homes nor our walls will ever collapse. This "right way" also includes using the structural support system developed over time to guarantee our homes' stability and contentment. This article discusses why large window framing openings can be punched in and what you should know the next time you add on or remodel your home.

What are Headers?

You would see something unique if you used the old Marvel Comics X-ray Specs to look around your windows and doors—the ones that can see through anything. A sturdy wooden scaffold would cover each window and entryway with support posts.

These bridges are vital, even though they are less glamorous than the Brooklyn or Golden Gate bridges. Because of these structural components, we can install windows and doors without weakening the walls.

Developers, modellers, and lumberyards allude to these extensions as headers in reality (Fig. A). King studs and trimmers, also known as jack studs, are the vertical pillars that support each end and are typically made of 2x4s or 2x6s. Dimensional lumber is used to install headers on the edges of most homes with wood frames.

A sturdy vertical support column is made up of trimmers that fit just under the header and king studs that are nailed into each header's end. The headers, king studs, and trimmers collaborate to transfer weight from the window and door openings up, down, and around the floor and foundation below.

If the headers are too small and bow downward, the windows and doors will become tangled and difficult to operate. They will also sag trim and crack drywall. Before proceeding, you must successfully complete this window framing project.

Suggested Header Sizes

As you learn to frame windows, it gets harder to tell how big the header is. You must take into consideration the following:

1. The length of the opening for the door or window

2. the total weight of the roofs, walls, and floors above ground

3. whether the wall is a bearing wall, which is where rafters, joists, and trusses rest, or a non-bearing wall, which is where rafters, joists, and trusses run parallel to it

4. Whether it is a bearing wall on the interior or exterior or the kind of wood you're working with. In the 2000 book on the International Building Code, the mind-numbing charts used to determine the appropriate header sizes for various circumstances take up two complete pages.

You can get assistance in determining the header size by contacting a representative of the local building code. When in doubt, use two 2x12 headers to create a double sandwich, as demonstrated later. In almost any circumstance, even the oddest, they can effortlessly carry the weight for four feet. Wide door and window openings that typically meet the code's requirements for spaces up to six feet in width. Total—a standard width for patio doors.


Trimmers are attached to the king studs that flank them and provide support. Under each header end, the butt. For more extended headers, headers that support more weight, and some openings that require more than one king stud, the support of two or more trimmers on each end is required.

As you learn to frame a window, inquire whether you require different trimmers or king studs from your architect, engineer, or local code official.


Find the bottoms of the transparent window and door openings, which are the rough window openings. For large window openings, doubled sills are a good idea (Fig. A) for strength and stability during window framing.

Cripple studs

Fill in the space between the sills below the 24-nailing plate; They can only support the window's weight. Blinds may occasionally be erected above a door or window (Fig. C) to bridge the gap between the top of a header and the top of a wall. These weigh a lot. Additionally, the additional wood provides an excellent anchor for the nails used to install wide-gauge wood mouldings and trim.

Calculating the size of the header

Determining the header size can be challenging when learning how to frame a window. The permissible header size spans are listed below for one of the hundreds of scenarios. If you made your plans for building or remodeling without consulting an architect or structural engineer, you should talk to the official in charge of building codes to figure out the right header size.

Size of the header that must be used to support the roof, ceiling, and one building with a center bearing floor of 28 feet or larger; 30 lb. loads of snow.

Required Tools for this Project

• Miter saw

• Air compressor

• Wrecking bar

• Reciprocating saw

• Safety glasses

• Air hose

• Circular saw

• Tape measure

• Sawhorses

• Extension cord

• Extension ladder

• Framing square

• Level

• Hammer


Measure the width of the window or door opening where the header will be installed.

Cut two pieces of lumber to the length of the opening, minus 1.5 inches. These will be the "jack studs".

Cut a third piece of lumber to the length of the opening, plus 3 inches. This will be the "header".

Attach the jack studs to the rough opening on either side, using nails or screws. Make sure they are level and plumb.

Place the header on top of the jack studs, and nail or screw it in place.

To strengthen the header, cut two pieces of lumber to the same length as the jack studs, and nail or screw them to the header at a 45-degree angle (forming a "triangle" shape).

Finally, add trim pieces around the header to conceal the header and provide a finished look.


Use pressure-treated lumber if the header will be exposed to moisture.

Use a level to ensure the header and jack studs are straight and plumb.

Wear safety goggles when cutting lumber.

Note: The process may vary depending on the type of wall framing, the size and weight of the door or window, and local building codes. It's always recommended to consult with a professional if you're unsure about the process or if it's compliant with local building codes.

March 19, 2023 — Della Wang