If the available hanger options don’t fit exactly, the author chooses one that’s wider than the joist, and packs it out with plywood running the full height of the joist.

Q:

We are replacing a beam in an old ceiling/floor assembly. Some of the rough-sawn joists are a full 2 inches thick, others 3 inches, and these thicknesses vary plus or minus up to 1/4 inch. In one area, the joist ends are also notched for a ledger board. What would you recommend for hardware, since regular joist hangers won’t work?

A:

Jake Lewandowski of Great Lakes Builders, a Chicago-based structural repair contractor, responds: Good question. We have encountered this type of scenario on numerous projects, and there are a number of ways to deal with it. Keep in mind that any solution we come up with, we always run by an engineer first.

A common problem we see is a large, heavy timber girder beam (we refer to this as a “beam line” in our area) with a small, continuous 2x2 board nailed along the side of the beam at the bottom. The joists were notched to sit on top of the 2x2 and the joist ends were toenailed into the timber beam. Regularly, we see the 2x2 missing (torn out somewhere along the way) or rotating and, typically, a horizontal crack right at the notch on the joist.

To correct for this when you are replacing the existing beam, you might consider increasing the width of the new beam. For example, if the plans show a three-ply LVL beam, you could make it four or five plies. Doing this often allows you to reduce the beam depth (explore options with an engineer), and I would consider that if a shallower beam is a benefit. Hopefully, then you would be able to cut the notches out of the joists, which would be ideal.

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