What Is a Header?

Today we will cover the question: What is a header?

We will be looking at a second story addition that one of our clients is working on. This is commonly referred to as a ‘Pop-top’ because you are essentially popping open the top of the single-story house and adding another level.

They hired Level Engineering to do the structural design and inspection throughout the project.

So What is a Header?

A header in the construction and engineering world is a beam over an opening that disperses the structural load to the outside of the opening to keep structural integrity.

Otherwise, the load from the roof, floor, or whatever is above the opening can lead to stress that can cause cracks, shifting, or even worse.

In this case, the wall in which a header is placed is load-bearing. There are trusses that are imposing a roof load over the opening that we want to create.

The load onto the header has to be transferred around the opening. The header beams the load from above and disperses it to the outside edges of the opening.

Headers are sized based on the length of the opening and the load. From there, we decide what kind of post is necessary.

Here you can see the load is dispersed to the side of the opening and we have two posts.

  • A king stud.
  • Jack stud (or trimmers) – where the load is actually placed or transferred
Man pointing to a kind stud and jack stud that make up a header above a walkway in a house

The load path goes down the jack stud to a single bottom plate and down to the foundation.

This king stud completes the assembly to keep it ridged. The number of jack studs and king studs is calculated based on the load.

So there you have it, headers 101. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or reach out to us at 800-214-8611.

Thanks for reading!

Picture of Scott Zurn, P.E.

Scott Zurn, P.E.

Founder and CEO of Level Engineering & Level Design Partners. With more than 4 decades of experience, Scott Zurn has contributed to all aspects of the building industry, serving both public and private sectors. He’s achieved tremendous success in commercial and residential markets, held leadership roles such as building official, city engineer, and director for local governments, and accomplished hundreds of millions of dollars in successful commercial building and civil infrastructure as a designer, project manager, and leader. As the Founder of the Level brand, Scott is dedicated to ensuring the entrepreneurial success of design professionals, as well as creating positive environmental impacts through design work. Read Scott’s full bio here.

2 Responses

  1. great submit, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t notice this.
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  2. Thank you for bringing such topic into light, I really loved the concept of your article. Thanks for sharing this information. It’s a great source of knowledge; I think it will be helpful for lot of people who are looking for learning more about header!!


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