Headers in construction are the structural elements that frame and support openings such as doors, windows and louvers. They also play an important role in the overall structure and safety of the building. It is therefore critical that a builder or contractor chooses the right type of header for a given project. The size, material and design of a header will depend on a number of factors such as the opening's span distance and the weight it needs to support. It is also essential to consult a professional before constructing and installing a header to ensure that it complies with local building codes and standards.
The primary function of a header is to transfer loads from above – typically a wall or roof joist – to the vertical supports on either side of the opening. This will prevent the structure from sagging or collapsing over time and to avoid the risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake. Headers are also responsible for distributing the weight evenly, preventing imbalances that may cause damage to the surrounding structures.
A header can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, steel or reinforced concrete. However, the choice of a header material depends on several factors such as the opening's size and load requirements, the construction methods used in the project, the availability of resources and cost constraints. In general, steel and concrete construction headers are more expensive than their wooden counterparts.