Although a two-story bank of windows and a high ceiling might be dramatic, sound bounced around the home, and the empty space did not enhance the room.
Design-Line Although a two-story bank of windows and a high ceiling might be dramatic, sound bounced around the home, and the empty space did not enhance the room.

Although the two-story volume-ceiling family room in this 16-year-old home with 9-foot first-floor ceilings was attractive, remodeler Wayne Booze says, the acoustics were bad, with sound traveling throughout the house. But more than that, he adds, the clients wanted an additional bedroom with a full bath. With such a large space, nearly 16 by 19 feet, the problem was how to create a second floor that seemed solid, fit the home's open style, and looked as if it had always been there. Several other remodelers had been to the home and didn't want to touch the project, says Booze, owner of Design-Line in Richmond, Va. At 19 feet, the span was so long that it wasn't possible to use standard dimensional lumber and match the home's existing floor depth. Booze could have put a beam in the center to shorten the span, but a bearing point for the beam was questionable, and he wanted to keep with the house's transitional style.

Booze kept the lower bank of windows, installed cove lighting above for a soft glow, and put in recessed lights in the family room. The space is still dramatic, but it is warmer than before.
Design-Line Booze kept the lower bank of windows, installed cove lighting above for a soft glow, and put in recessed lights in the family room. The space is still dramatic, but it is warmer than before.

Instead, Booze chose to use TJIs, an engineered wood I-joist. “They will span long distances and are very strong,” he says, “and you can get them in nominal depths that are consistent with dimensional lumber.” After developing full blueprints, Booze took them to an engineer who told him which series of TJIs to choose and what spacing to use to span the 19-foot distance: beams from the PRI 40 series (very rigid) at 12 inches on center. “We didn't want a trampoline up there,” Booze says. The TJIs run parallel to the gable-end window wall, and it was tricky maneuvering them into place. DesignLine used the exterior fireplace wall for bearing on one end. At the other end, they beefed up a double floor joist at the kitchen by making a decorative column load-bearing and carrying the load to the foundation.

When done, “The clients said, ‘You had total confidence from the beginning that this would work and would look good. That's what made us go with you.' It was a great feeling,” Booze says. He has since been hired by another family for a similar project.