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Home Improvement : Hole Is Window of Opportunity

May 12, 1991|A. J. HAND

There are basically three reasons for putting a hole in a wall.

* You want to install a window.

* You want to create a pass-through, maybe between a kitchen and dining room.

* You want to create a door.

Whatever the reason, to make the hole you have to know how to frame what is called a "rough opening." The basic construction for a window or pass-through opening is shown in the sketch. The framing for a door would be the same, without the sill and short studs called "cripples." The whole job is simple enough that you can probably do it working only with the sketch, but here's how to go about it in more detail.

To start, decide upon the size and position of the opening. If you need an opening for a window or door, the window or door specifications will list the proper rough opening.

MAKING THE HOLE: Start by removing the wall covering in the area of the opening. If the hole you create doesn't end at a stud, take the opening out to the next closest stud. This will make the opening wider than you really want, but that's OK. Later, we'll show you how to narrow it back down.

Next, construct a temporary stud wall a foot or two from the area of the opening, parallel to the wall you are working on. To do this, lay a 2-by-4 on the floor, hold another one directly above it against the ceiling, and jam 2-by-4 studs between these two "plates" every 16 inches, creating a little stud wall. Now you can remove the wall studs from the area of the rough opening and your temporary wall will hold things up.

The next step is to make a header, running across the top of your opening between the two studs flanking the opening in the wall. The size of the lumber you use for this header depends on how wide the opening is.

If it's three feet or less, you can use 2-by-4s. If it's three to five feet, use 2-by-6s. Five to seven feet, use 2-by-8s. Seven to eight feet, use 2-by-10s.

Note that the header is doubled up. If you are using 2-by-6s, for example, your header is made up as a sandwich of a pair of 2-by-6s, with a filler of half-inch plywood in between. This plywood adds no real strength; it's just there to make the header 3 1/2 inches thick so it matches the width of the rest of the wall framing. Nail this sandwich together with 16 penny nails driven in from both faces of the header.

Cut the header so it's a snug fit in the opening. Have a helper or helpers hold it in position while you nail it in place and add the two trimmer studs that fit beneath it and support it.

After the header and trimmer studs are in place, you can knock down your temporary wall and use the lumber in it to frame off the rest of the opening. If you are framing for a window or pass through, you'll have to add the double sill and the short stud cripples. Space the cripples 16 inches apart on center.

NARROWING THE OPENING: Earlier, when you removed the old wall covering, you were instructed to go all the way out to the next closest stud. The narrowing job is really quite simple. Just cut a pair of studs to fit between the header and the sill, nail them together and nail in place as shown in the sketch. It's that easy.

Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

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