Do You Need a Header in a Closet Opening?


According to Better Homes and Gardens, if you know how to swing a hammer, drive a nail, and cut a board using a circular or table saw, then you have the abilities necessary to construct a wall and frame door openings. Your lack of expertise is the only significant deficiency I can see in your performance. The majority of individuals are aware that the studs in their walls run in a vertical direction. Some people are aware that plates cap the studs like rails edge ladder rungs and run horizontally down the length of the wall, beginning at the top and continuing all the way down. The challenging element is determining whether or not you need a header for a closet doorway or any other opening, as well as how to construct the header in the correct manner.

A Header’s Job

The function of a header is simple yet essential: It bears the weight of everything that is constructed above the door opening, which may range from a piece of the ceiling all the way up to the roof structure and shingles in some situations. In addition to this, it supports the weight of the door that is located beneath it when it is in place. Additionally contributing to the opening’s rigidity and stability is the header. It may seem like an overwhelming task for a basic board or even two, but the header really contains some assistance.

What Supports Headers?

The wall studs are finished off with a final full-length stud, also known as the king stud, to which a door-high stud is fastened on each side of the doorway leading into the closet (or any other opening). The header is supported as well by these shorter studs, which are known as jack studs. The weight of the structure above is distributed evenly over the header by use of short cripple studs, which are located between the top wall plate and the header. A robust, sturdy, and stiff opening with the weight distributed uniformly is made possible thanks to the thickness of the header, in addition to the support of the jack studs, which are in turn supported by the king studs. In point of fact, think of the header as a powerful bridge that provides support for whatever that travels over it.

Closet Door Headers

Even the entryway to the closet has to have a header, as you would have imagined. According to Fine Homebuilding, it doesn’t matter how light the door, window, or shutter is; you still need to frame it with king studs, jack studs, cripples (one every 16 inches), and a header. This is true even if the opening is completely empty. This is when things start to get complicated: There are several papers and sites that provide statements such as, “Use a two-by-four instead of a header if the wall does not carry any weight.” That’s an example of making a distinction when, in a strict sense, none exists. When placed at the top of the opening, a single two-by-four may also function as a header.

The Difference

Building experts differentiate between headers because doing so provides a plethora of information immediately to anybody who is familiar with the vocabulary used in building. Builders intuitively understand that the presence of a two-by-four header denotes either an interior wall that is not a load-bearing wall (i.e., one that does not support the roof and, if applicable, a second story) or an aperture that is three feet wide or less. On the other hand, load-bearing walls, whether they are located inside or outside, are required to have a conventional header installed. In conclusion, the sort of wall that is involved will determine the kind of header that is required for the doorway of your closet.

Determining Header Type

Find out whether your wall bears the strain of the furniture you have against it before drawing any judgments regarding your header. If you are constructing the wall yourself, this step is straightforward; the architectural drawings will detail where load-bearing walls are supposed to be placed. Any wall that is positioned in the centre of the house and extends the majority of the way to the length of the home is often considered to be a load-bearing wall. However, by definition, external walls are always load-bearing. When you are cutting a doorway in an existing wall, you should check to see whether there are other walls running immediately over the wall of the closet door or directly under it – sometimes even within a foot or two. Remove a little bit of the drywall at the top so you can examine the plates; load-bearing walls need two top plates. Obviously, if there are additional doors on the wall, looking at the headers of those doors will also tell you something about the location of the exit. The wall is never used as a load-bearing structure while constructing a tiny closet inside of a room.

Building Headers

It is a good idea to check with the local building code authorities in your area to verify that your closet does not fall within the purview of any particular construction requirements or limits. For example, they could demand you to construct a header in a certain format or conform to a particular size standard. In most cases, a non-load-bearing wall may be made sufficiently sturdy by turning a two-by-four on its side so that the breadth equals the depth of the wall (which is really 3 1/2 inches wide). If the building code requires a larger header, two boards are turned on their sides and sandwiched together with a piece of plywood that is half an inch thick in between. The process begins with two-by-fours for openings that are up to three feet wide and progresses to boards that are one inch wider every one to two feet up to openings that are eight feet wide. Using a more robust heading, such as this one, won’t have any negative impact on anything. It is preferable to overbuild rather than underbuild a structure.