I've got three brick structures with adjoining walls. At some point in the
last 110 years, an unknown joker decided that he wanted to add a couple of
doorways through the common walls. Rough holes were knocked though the
walls never being properly braced or supported. Amazingly, there aren't yet
any stress cracks or related structural damage but I don't care to press my
The walls are 12" thick and approx 3' wide. I'm guessing that I need to just
knock a few more bricks out across the top and add some horizontal wood
supports. My question is what type of wood is appropriate here. I'm sure
that the typical HD 2x12 pine plank is totally insufficient for that type
of load. Any thoughts?
If it were my problem, I'd pay a structural engineer to look at the
holes and surrounding conditions above and below. Interview engineers
until you find one with experience in existing masonry structures. Some
engineers are excellent at new work and not comfortable with old work.
(E.G., 100 year old brick building in an area of questionable soils
with large stepped crack in one outer wall. One engineer recommended
tearing it down while a second recommended monitoring the crack width
for movement. Thirty years later, the building is still standing.)
Steel might work nicely. As others have pointed out, the tributory
load above each door will determine size and material of the header.
There's an interesting article in the June 2005 Journal of Light
Construction on adding a 12 foot wide exterior door in a brick wall 12
inches thick and 30 feet high...
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