Putting up the Beam

by Ben N on December 2, 2016

The next big step would be install a header across the south side of the garage. This wall is almost nothing but doors. In fact, there’s so little there to hold up the roof that we needed a structurally engineered beam to span the entire south side!

IMG_2186This was done with a “micro-lam” beam. Essentially, it’s plywood. The beam is manufactured by laminating together layers of wood, just like with plywood, except that it’s designed for exceptionally long length. Micro-lams can be ordered in standard sizes from a full service lumberyards. The lumberyard delivered the beam to my house. It’s actually TWO pieces of wood. That’s a good thing, as HALF the thickness of the total beam is already about as much as three guys can lift.

We first built out a few studs (vertical 2×4’s) that were the height of the wall, minus 16 inches. The beam itself is 16″ tall! We also put in a block on each end right BEHIND where the beam would go. That kept us from overshooting, lifting the beam too far, and dropping it into the garage!

Next, we brought over the one micro-lam and cut it to the correct length (the order was for the closest stock size to what we needed.) Using some scaffolding, we had a good place to stand. We got one end of the beam onto the one scaffold, then the other end on the other scaffold. With one guy in the middle on a ladder, we lifted the micro-lam into place, then nailed it.

We repeated the process with the second micro-lam, made sure everything was straight, then added a 2×4 top plate to it. The two laminates were screwed together with some fancy little screws designed just for said purpose.

IMG_2202Next, we needed to sheath the wall. The other three walls have 1/2″ OSB sheets. It’s relatively cheap/sturdy, but for the front wall we would need something a little better. For the south wall, we used full sheets of 3/4″ plywood, cut into “T”s and “L”s to fit around the doors. This acts as cross-bracing in the east/west direction.

All together, this wasn’t a real long day, but it was certainly work to get the beam installed!

We needed to get the trusses up onto the roof the next day. Each one weighs over 200 pounds. (Check out the blog about when the trusses got dropped off to see how big they are!) I had to work in the evening too. So, I put out a desperate call for help on Facebook and started making as many telephone calls as I could driving to and from work for the evening. But would people show up? Crossing my fingers!

NEXT TIME: Lifting the trusses.


Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: