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Thread: Another question re load-bearing wall (w/ pics)

  1. #1

    Default Another question re load-bearing wall (w/ pics)

    I am converting an awkward bedroom closet (2.5 ft wide, 5 ft deep) into an alcove in my kitchen by opening the wall between the rooms. I want to remove 2 studs so that I can slide the fridge (28" wide) and a 15" pantry cabinet into this space. There is another foot of closet space on the right side of the opening, but I don't want to relocate the wires running between these studs.

    It is, of course, a load-bearing wall--an iron beam supported by metal posts runs the length of the wall in the basement. (I'm on the second floor of a three story condo building.) As I stripped off the plaster and lathe, I discovered that one stud is doubled and a couple of studs appear to have some additional support--i.e., the short piece next to the double stud and a similar support next to the stud behind the plaster on the right.

    Does this significantly complicate the project? For example, does the double stud and extra support mean that will I need extra jack studs at the ends of the new header? This could be an issue--removing the 2 studs (including the double stud) leave about a 46" opening, down to 43" with one set of jack studs. Should/could I use steel studs here?

    I won't cut any studs until I pull a permit and consult with an architect, but I don't want to go to this expense/trouble only to find out that I can't make this work. Worst case option--I'll skip the architect/permit process and just build cabinets between the studs, leaving the fridge where it is.

    Thanks for any advice.
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  2. #2
    In the Trades AZ Contractor's Avatar
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    Can you show us a picture of the top of the studs and top plate?

  3. #3

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    I've stopped pulling down the plaster about a foot or so shy of the ceiling. I want the finished opening to be the same height as the door immediately to the left, so I didn't strip the plaster/lathe all the way to the ceiling.

    What are you looking for? If I opened a spot on the inside of the former closet where the wall and ceiling meet, would this view provide the necessary info?

    Thank you

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member scrunchielaura's Avatar
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    Is that a splice in the bottom plate flush with the right side of the doubled studs?

    The existing doorway to the left appears to also have one of the short studs. Thus I suspect that there used to be a doorway from your present kitchen into the closet. The doubled studs would have been one side of this doorway. Further, it wouldn't surprise me if that closet used to be a hallway with a door to the "bedroom", a door to the "kitchen", and a door to whatever you have to the left of the picture.

  5. #5

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    Interesting take on what little I've given you to work with in the pictures, but I don't believe that closet ever opened toward the kitchen. I've only been here 7 years, but the son of the original owner, who grew up in the building and did the condo conversion in the early '90s, lived next door until a couple of years ago. From what he said, there have been only a couple of minor changes in the layout since the building was constructed ~1920.

    Don't know if this is relevant, but there was a shallow ironing board cabinet between the double stud and the stud to the right of the double stud. The cabinet door was the same height as a regular door and trimmed as other doors in the unit, but it was only about a foot wide.

    BTW--behind the back wall of the alcove/closet is a Jack and Jill bath, which serves bedrooms to the left and right of this picture. If I am able to open this wall/fit the fridge in this space, I'm thinking about accessing the plumbing so that I can add an ice maker to the fridge. This little change could mean a significant quality-if-life improvement this summer. I don't have central air and I have two teenagers who can't seem to make the connection between the act of filling the ice trays and the supply of ice on hand.

  6. #6

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    Perhaps these "after" drawings better illustrate what I'm hoping to accomplish.
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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I'd go ahead and consult with either an architect or a structural engineer. The steel beam below is not as important as what's above this wall -- although highly likely, it's not necessarily a structural wall.

    Regardless, I see no reason why you can't do what you want to do, but you'll have to open up that wall above where the new opening will be to install a serious header and support for whatever's above the assumed load-bearing wall now. You may be able to work from behind, but no matter what you do the front of the wall will have to be refinished, so I'd just proceed in the easiest way to accomodate the structural work.

    The few jobs I've seen involving removing/replacing/modifying truly structural walls have given me great respect for those who know what they're doing in this area.
    Last edited by Mikey; 05-06-2008 at 05:48 AM.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If in fact it is a load bearing wall, you'll need to construct a temporary one while you remove the studs and install a header. Since it isn't that big, I'd approach it in that manner regardless. As Mikey said, you'd have to strip off the plaster to install a proper header, so you might as well do that. The height of the header will depend on the width of the opening. Since it isn't that big, I'd consider a 2x12 with a 1/2" ply in the middle, which would give you the 3.5" thickness - it's more than you probably need, but should be fine. Install jack studs on the sides and go for it. Just make sure your temporary wall is sound before you tear things out. Keep in mind, we're not there, and (at least for me), I'm not a pro.

    My guess is those extra studs were there to frame the opening of the in-wall ironing board cabinet, and not structural.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9

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    As much as I hate to do it (the mess/hauling the debris down the stairs), I'll pull down the remaining plaster and lathe.

    I'll talk to the Village tomorrow re the permitting process. Someone told me that the staff will know what size header I need, so I may be able to skip the architect.

    Thanks to all for taking the time to help.

  10. #10
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Since it isn't that big, I'd consider a 2x12 with a 1/2" ply in the middle, which would give you the 3.5" thickness - it's more than you probably need, but should be fine.
    Good lord ... I'd hate to see what you'd recommend if it was big! Gut feeling is that is way over kill 2-2x8 w/ 1/2 ply is most likely going to be adequate. Of course, you'll need to consult an engineer to be sure.

    Do joists above this wall run perpendicular to it? How much span is there between the wall and the next support on both sides? Are the joists above this wall continuous? What's directly above it? Another wall? Roof? Open area?

  11. #11

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    two 2x12s w/ plywood are not rated to be as strong as one 4x12.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The width is not great, and probably a 2x6 would work, but also since it is not very big, the difference in cost is minimal, so why not?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default opening

    As a pragmatic thing, removing a stud or two from that wall, even a load bearing wall is not a major problem and can be ameliorated by installing a header across the opening.

  14. #14
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    The width is not great, and probably a 2x6 would work, but also since it is not very big, the difference in cost is minimal, so why not?
    Because nickels and dimes add up! The cost is going to be at least twice the cost, plus twice as much plywood, twice as many nails and it is going to be a whole lot heavier. It might even reduce your opening height.

    I'm all about over building, but I think there are better places to do that than here.

    Jason

  15. #15
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Before you go crazy, find out what's upstairs. The wall may not be load-bearing at all, or the upstairs neighbors' master bath 500-gallon spa may be up there. In the latter case, you've got a much bigger problem, and should be thinking of engineers, glulam headers, very careful construction, and big bucks.

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