Follow up: Rough door opening alongside cold air return


J

Justin Miller

I posted a question about how to frame a door opening for a French door
alongside a cold air return on December 7th, and I got several replies.
First, I would like to thank everyone for their help. Since posting the
question, I have had an architect and a structural engineer look at the
project. They both said that I could go with my plan to put a plate under
the door and rest the jack and king studs on the plate, assuming I used
strong enough stock for the plate. They also said that this was a pretty
standard setup and that my situation isn't at all unique. Furthermore, I
stopped by the building department and asked one of the inspectors what he
would do, and he also suggested running a plate under the door.
With that said, I would like to know what the concerns were that caused
some of the negative responses that I got on the subject. In particular,
Rico mentioned that this plan wouldn't work at all, so I am still a little
worried about this. Can someone clarify why I could or couldn't go with
this plan to put a plate under the door? Should I go with it since my
architect and engineer said it was ok, or is there something inherently
wrong with putting the plate under the door instead of running it outside
the door? It seems to me that in this scenario, the load will be
distributed directly down from the top floor and into the foundation through
the plate under the door, which seems like a very natural distribution of
load. I am not an engineer though, so I really don't know. Any help will,
again, be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Justin Miller.
 
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J

Justin Miller

Alright, that makes sense. I just wanted to know some of the pros and cons
of both methods. They did say that I may need to reinforce the plate under
the ends, depending on what I use for the plate, but the engineer hasn't
finished his analysis yet to tell me exactly what I should use for a plate
and how I should support it. It just made me a little nervous when they
suggested the plate method after reading some of the replies to my original
posting.

Justin Miller.
 
P

Phil Scott

Justin Miller said:
Alright, that makes sense. I just wanted to know some of the pros and cons
of both methods. They did say that I may need to reinforce the plate under
the ends, depending on what I use for the plate, but the engineer hasn't
finished his analysis yet to tell me exactly what I should use for a plate
and how I should support it. It just made me a little nervous when they
suggested the plate method after reading some of the replies to my original
posting.
The first 15 years of my career was slinging the tools and
expanding to a 27 man industrial construction company in LA...
the next 12 or 15 years was spent consulting for major
engineering and construction firms nationally.. The last 8 I
do a mix of construction (hands on) and consulting
(industrial process, piping and controls).

My experience with engineers nationally is that 5% or so
are real competent...another 10% will do you a decent
job...the next 30% will provide you something thats at least
workable...and 50% or so are walking diasters...not disasterw
waiting to happen...but actively ruining everything they
touch.

Your shot at getting someone in the 5 to 10% range are
slim...although the simpler the work the better chance you
have of getting at least workable advice... a quality guy will
saunter out and draw you a competent sketch in fairly short
order..that is clear and obviously effective and also viable
to impliment.

The rest will hem and haw and jabber and leave you hanging
with vague remarks.


Your situation is simple. Rico presented the key issues in
achieving a world class stable job... there must be at least
90,000 other ways to do it... packed bubble gum and staples
might work, or toe nailing the two bit 2x4 studs to the
foundation with cement nails..

I take an oposite approach...I look for ways to make the job
utterly bullet proof and ways to beef it up so that 30 years
later it will still be solid... life is more satisfyng for
me that way. I wouldnt dream of relying on a single set of
2x4's (some of that wood is soft yellow pine these days you
know) for support when its just as easy to use heavier stock
all around... and at the sill etc. and support the sill
properly so it ties to the floor joists in the area... the
cost of 2x6 or 2x8 douglas fir in that location is minimal
but the difference in solidity over time will be dramatic.


Phil Scott



Phil Scott
 
J

Justin Miller

Rico and Phil, thanks a lot for all your help. Everything that both of
you have suggested makes perfect sense to me. I am definitely looking for
the most stable solution since it is my house and I am not planning on
leaving the house anytime real soon. This is why I am weighing both options
and listening to all advice before making a decision.
The architect got back to me with an initial response on the project and
he said that I should consider using a heavy 20 gauge steel 2x4 for the
plate under the door to make sure that there is no sagging or cracking in
the future. (Supposedly I could buy a scrap six foot section from a
contractor in the area?) I asked him about dropping the jack and king studs
all the way to the foundation, and he said they generally don't do that
because it could cause cracks in the foundation at that spot. But he also
said that cracks would probably not be a concern for me since it is only a
60" span. He's willing to help me with either method, depending on which I
am most comfortable with.
The door is a 60" wide internal french door that will connect my dining
room to a single story addition. The wall was, at one time, the external
wall. There is really not much involved as far as load over the addition.
Over the dining room, there is a bedroom and the end of my roof. This will
really be where the load will come from. Given all discussion, I will
definitely go for a higher quality stock and double 2x10's over the door.
My only indecision remains on the plate vs. longer jack/king stud issue.
After all the discussion, what would be your final vote? Would you use the
steel plate, or go straight down to the foundation on both ends? The
architect will draw up the plans after I make this choice. Again, I
appreciate all your help, and I promise not to bother you too much longer
with this subject.

Justin Miller
 
P

Phil Scott

Justin Miller said:
Rico and Phil, thanks a lot for all your help. Everything that both of
you have suggested makes perfect sense to me. I am definitely looking for
the most stable solution since it is my house and I am not planning on
leaving the house anytime real soon. This is why I am weighing both options
and listening to all advice before making a decision.
The architect got back to me with an initial response on the project and
he said that I should consider using a heavy 20 gauge steel 2x4 for the
plate under the door to make sure that there is no sagging or cracking in
the future.
Im shocked... 20 gage steel box section is not real
heavy for that sort of compression load... Id guess its about
1/5th the strength of a wood 2x4. What on earth this guy is
thinking I dont know. Maybe Im not visualizing it properly..
maybe he is saying to use 2x4 metal channel under the door
then fit a wooden block in the channel to support the
threshold.. still makes no sense. you can mash a 20
gage box section flat with just a few hundred lbs...certainly
under 1000 lbs... thats not much bearing capacity for your
application at all.





(Supposedly I could buy a scrap six foot section from a
contractor in the area?)
You can by a full length for 10 or 20 bucks new from a
builders supply.



I asked him about dropping the jack and king studs
all the way to the foundation, and he said they generally don't do that
because it could cause cracks in the foundation at that
spot.

Ok... that does it. the man is err a bit off center
imho...especially since he recommends a 20 gage steel box
section for the plate... if he called out end inserts in
the 2x4 metal box section,,,over the bearing areas it would be
a much better plan..but still not as strong as lumber over
time.




But he also
said that cracks would probably not be a concern for me since it is only a
60" span. He's willing to help me with either method, depending on which I
am most comfortable with.
The door is a 60" wide internal french door that will connect my dining
room to a single story addition. The wall was, at one time, the external
wall.
Thats a load bearing wall of course.


There is really not much involved as far as load over the
addition.
Over the dining room, there is a bedroom and the end of my roof. This will
really be where the load will come from. Given all discussion, I will
definitely go for a higher quality stock and double 2x10's
over the door.

Good idea... $3 well spent. Id send an extra 20 cents on
deck screws too.
My only indecision remains on the plate vs. longer jack/king
stud issue.

I cant see the job but personally Id put a 2x6 plate in and
cut the floor joists to accept it and screw to the joists as
well...

After all the discussion, what would be your final vote? Would you use the
steel plate, or go straight down to the foundation on both
ends?

Id use a 2x6 douglas fir plate as mentioned. tied to the
joists with long screws and the foundation with 5/16"
expansion anchors set at least 2" into the concrete. Id rest
double 2x4 king studs on the plate.


The
architect will draw up the plans after I make this choice. Again, I
appreciate all your help, and I promise not to bother you too much longer
with this subject.
Its ok we enjoy these sorts of polite discussions... a
combination of bragging and learning..its all good.

Phil Scott
 
J

Justin Miller

Phil Scott said:
Im shocked... 20 gage steel box section is not real
heavy for that sort of compression load... Id guess its about
1/5th the strength of a wood 2x4. What on earth this guy is
thinking I dont know. Maybe Im not visualizing it properly..
maybe he is saying to use 2x4 metal channel under the door
then fit a wooden block in the channel to support the
threshold.. still makes no sense. you can mash a 20
gage box section flat with just a few hundred lbs...certainly
under 1000 lbs... thats not much bearing capacity for your
application at all.
I will definitely call him on this one. He sent me a preliminary drawing
and it definitely said 20 gauge steel stud.
I cant see the job but personally Id put a 2x6 plate in and
cut the floor joists to accept it and screw to the joists as
well...
Would you notch 3/4" off the top of the joists so the plate sits down at the
same height as the subfloor before attaching the plate?
Id use a 2x6 douglas fir plate as mentioned. tied to the
joists with long screws and the foundation with 5/16"
expansion anchors set at least 2" into the concrete. Id rest
double 2x4 king studs on the plate.

Phil Scott
I'm a little confused here... The 2x6 plate will sit on top of the floor
joists, which sit on top of the 2x6 attached to the foundation. Where would
I attach the new plate to the foundation? It is sitting ~7.5" above the
foundation if I'm following you. Rico suggested that I post some photos to
help with the discussion. I will get some photos tonight and post the
links, assuming that you aren't bored with the conversation. Thanks a lot.

Justin Miller.
 
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J

Justin Miller

Rico dJour said:
I think you may have gotten some of the terminology wrong...or the architect is
a flake. When you say the steel under the door, do you mean under the bearing
studs on either side of the opening as well? If so, the steel you mentioned
seems light.
That's what the architect suggested. He even sent me a preliminary diagram
and it definitely says 20 gauge steel stud. Phil also pointed out that this
was very light. I will definitely call the architect on this one.
It's not going to cause cracks with such a short span. If you can get under
the door (basement?), I'd go with the studs to the sill plate. You'd need to
cut a hole in the subfloor that's large enough to let you slip the stud into
place. Obviously you want a snug fit and you'll have to persuade the stud into
place. Then you can tie in underneath with some metal connectors and patch the
subfloor.
I'm with you on that one. I really doubt that it would crack with a 60"
span. Sorry, I am just an experienced do-it-yourselfer, by sill plate you
mean the 2x6 that sits directly on top of the foundation?
I'm still not 100% on the existing
situation - it would be great if you could post a picture somewhere and post a
link to the picture here.

R
I probably should have done that from the beginning. As long as you are not
bored of the discussion, I will take some photos tonight and post the links
here tomorrow. Thanks a lot for all your help. It has definitely helped me
ask some well-informed questions of the architect.

Justin Miller.
 
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P

Phil Scott

Justin Miller said:
I will definitely call him on this one. He sent me a preliminary drawing
and it definitely said 20 gauge steel stud.


Would you notch 3/4" off the top of the joists so the plate sits down at the
same height as the subfloor before attaching the plate?
absolutely. (thats not where you need the strength
anyway, not at the end of the joist ... the same notch mid
span on top could be a structural issue.)
I'm a little confused here... The 2x6 plate will sit on top of the floor
joists, which sit on top of the 2x6 attached to the foundation. Where would
I attach the new plate to the foundation? It is sitting ~7.5" above the
foundation if I'm following you. Rico suggested that I post some photos to
help with the discussion. I will get some photos tonight and post the
links, assuming that you aren't bored with the conversation.
Thanks a lot.

In that case you already have a plate installed that the
joists are resting on.. the door plate will simply secure to
the joists...Id still use a 2x6 or 2 x8.


Phil Scott
 

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