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Good ways to install a rIdge beam for a cathedral style ceiling in a ranch home remodel

Andy Fellenz | Posted in General Questions on

I am remodeling a 1980’s era ranch home and will be converting the living room area from a 7 1/2′ nominal ceiling height to a 11+’ cathedral style ceiling.  The ridge beam will be made from three  20′ long 16″ LVLs.  

I’m looking for ideas for getting the ridge beam in position.  Some thoughts I have had are:
1) Rent two Genie lifts and lift the assembled beam in place
2) Lift each beam individually and use jacks to move the beam elements to their final positions and assemble the beam in place
3) ????

I’m sure this has been done lots of times and am curious how others have done it.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel and also would like to do it with three people.  If I need more, I can get them, but it is easiest to work with the people I already have available.

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  1. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #1

    Usually you’d either lower the beam through the roof from above into a slot you’ve already cut for it, or you slide it in from the end using periodic supports and rollers or glides. For a beam the size you’re talking about, I’d use a small crane and lower it from overhead.

    BE SURE you have braces the top rafters so that they can’t spread outwards while
    You’re doing this. You need to put those braces in place BEFORE you start cutting the slot. The connections you make between the rafters and that big beam need to be able to handle both normal vertical load AND tension, so be sure to use the correct connectors for this. I like to put some steel strapping over the top from one rafter, over the beam, to the other rafter too for some belt and suspenders support in tension.

    You’ll need some temporary walls to support the roof in addition to the temporary rafter ties I already mentioned. Don’t skimp here because this is a fairly dangerous project so you need all your temporary supports to be able to safely handle the entire roof load while you’re working.

    Make sure your end support columns for that beam are sufficiently strong too. A lot of people don’t pay attention to the bearing surface requirements for big LVL beams. You’ll need more than just a double stud on each end with a beam this size. You also need to make sure the foundation can handle the load. You’re essentially changing the loading from a distributed load to a point load when you put in that load bearing ridge beam, which sometimes requires a pier to be added to support the ends.


    1. T Carlson | | #5

      I believe he's going underneath, not in a slot cut.

  2. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #2

    Hey Andy,

    You might get some helpful tips from this FHB article from Mike Guertin, who did something very similar, it soulds like: From Flat to Cathedral.

    1. Andy Fellenz | | #3

      Thank you. This is exactly what I was looking for. -

  3. T Carlson | | #4

    Ive always done 1 ply at a time, no need to lift the entire beam up at once, and either cut a hole in the gable wall and slide off machine forks or slide on the top plate, cut a hole in the roof on a hip roof or a couple times we've gone through a window with temporary walls holding up existing elements and lifted through a slot.

    Depends on the situation but the idea that has seemed to work is get the ply in the space, which is most of the battle, then fit into position.

    Have a load path established, a structural ridge can generate some serious point load.

    3 people should be no problem with that size.

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