Fitting a supporting beam
This is a guide for removing a brick wall or widening a door opening when you intend knocking through to form a larger room, it leaves you the option of open plan or fitting folding or double doors and frames.
It is vitally important before placing a support beam to calculate the size of the beam you need, this should be based on what it will be supporting including the size of rooms and the content of those rooms, an engineers report may well be required and will help you avoid issues should you decide to sell your home in the future.
This is a quick guide to get started and to qualify what processes you need to follow, it is intended more for knowledge of the process when having tradesmen in your home doing the work but is written as if you were doing it yourself.
Also see "How to remove a load bearing wall"
- Build a work platform by placing doubled-up scaffold boards between scaffold towers.
- Ask a second person for assistance as you'll need help lifting the beam into position.
- Take out two small sections of the wall with a bolster chisel and hammer to make two holes for the beam. The holes should be 250mm (10in) to 305mm (12in) above the intended lintel position. The distance between the two holes should equal to the length of the beam.
- Form concrete or brick pad stones where you'll bed the beam to the required size, if using concrete you will need plywood to form the pads to the sizes required.
Use one part cement, two parts sand, and four parts aggregate to make a concrete mix.
- When the concrete has set, bed a pad stone on top of each pier.
- Set up the formwork at the required height on each side and check if the two are level.
- Spread more mortar on the pad stones and set the beam in place.
- Insert pieces of slate between the beams to fill in the gap and prevent the mortar mix being squeezed out. You can also fill the gap with a mortar mix (one part cement and three parts sand). Spread the mortar mix with a bricklaying trowel.
- Compact it with a wooden batten and a hammer. For large gaps or holes, apply a bed of mortar and rebuild the brickwork on top of the beam.
- Continue applying mortar on the course between the needles so that when the timbers are removed the holes can be filled in to complete the bonding.
- Let the mortar set for about two days, then remove the props and the needles and fill in the holes with more mortar.
- If the beam is fitted against ceiling joists, support the ceiling with props and a solid timber board to spread the load on each side of the wall and maintain the integrity of the upper floor which the joists support.
- It may be that you want the beam in place before carrying out the process at 14 below.
- Cut away the wall below the newly installed beam, then lift the beam into position and fit a pair of adjustable props under it, the props should also be set on double thickness baords to spread the load which the props will support.
- Apply mortar to the top of the beam and tighten the props against the joists and or brickwork above.
- Bed pad stones in mortar on both ends.
- There will be plasterwork required and this should be the last thing during the building process.