What is Header in Construction?

March 1, 2024

A header in construction is a support beam that transfers the weight of an opening, like a window or doorway, to vertical elements of the structure above it. They are indispensable in creating stable doors and windows that can be opened and closed. Headers are typically made from wood, but they can also be constructed from other materials such as steel and concrete depending on the needs of a building project. The size, dimensions, and material used for a header is determined based on load requirements, structural calculations, and local building codes. During construction, it is important that the header is properly leveled, aligned, and shimmed to prevent sagging or uneven distribution of weight.

Generally at least twice as thick as the studs, joists or rafters that run on either side of the opening, a header is placed above a wall or roof cut-out to provide the necessary support for the surrounding framing members. A double header, which is a framed beam sheathed with plywood, is a popular option for wider openings, such as patio doors. A lintel header, which is often found in older or traditional buildings, is built from bricks or stones. Some types of headers may even be constructed from composite materials to achieve specific load-bearing or design goals.

Moisture protection measures, such as flashing and sealing techniques are implemented around the header area to prevent water intrusion and protect the structure from rot or deterioration. Proper insulation is also installed around the header to minimize heat transfer and maintain energy efficiency.

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