Temporary wall

There are three segments to the wood beam in the basement, so for our purposes we’ll say front, middle, and back. I started work on the middle section because it was the lowest and I wanted to bring it to the same level as the other two. As of last weekend, the beam was as close to level as was feasible, given that the joists themselves aren’t exactly level in the outside walls, nor of the same thickness from one end to the other. I also discovered the importance of measuring level from the top of the floor joist rather than the bottom.

Once the beam was where it needed to be, we started building temporary wall sections. These are standard 2x4s with bottom and top plates. The studs are aligned with the floor joists so that there is even support and as little movement as possible once the existing beam is removed. I started out using the scrap lumber we had saved from the basement demo. Unfortunately nearly all of these studs were too short due to rot and rats chewing a raceway through the wall. I cut them down to 5′ lengths and built a second tier with short cripple studs, then put a cross brace across it. After it was all assembled and in place, I decided it wasn’t going to work.

The problem was partly that the salvaged studs were a bit wonky and uneven and partly that even with the cross bracing I was concerned it was going to buckle if the weight of the house was put on it. Given the importance of the wall in supporting the house while the beam is replaced, we decided to play it safe and get new studs. We can always reuse these down the road, so it shouldn’t add any additional waste to the project and it only cost about $100. That seemed like a small price to pay to keep the house from collapsing.

Temporary Wall Under Joists

We rebuilt the temporary wall along the length of the middle beam. I also built a segment on the opposite side where the joists were cut to provide support for that section. I still need to add cross bracing to ensure it’s stable. I’ll wind up using the salvaged lengths I cut down for the top and bottom plates as well as the cross bracing.

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3 Responses to Beam Project: Temporary Wall

  1. lookin’ real good down there

  2. Yikes! Hope you can sleep ok at night!

    If I would be in your shoes, I would double up the vertical studs in the temporary supporting wall. I just learned from my structural engineer that the studs in my 1st floor load bearing wall should be doubled, to deal with the 2nd floor weight. And this is on the 1st floor, not even the basement!

    The Rebuilding Exchange (near Ashland and Webster)would be a much more economic source for suitable 2×4’s. I bought 95% of the lumber for our project there…

  3. Matt says:

    That’s interesting about doubling the studs. I’m planning on putting the jack posts on the opposite side of the beam under 4×4 sections for additional support when we actually remove the beam, but I may also add some more wall sections to be safe. We’ll only have the beam out during the actual replacement, so I’m hoping they’ll be up to the task given how brief it is.

    Thanks for the tip about Rebuilding Exchange. I’m not impressed with the lumber from the big box stores and I was planning to get it from a real lumber store, but I wasn’t sure which to check out.

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