What’s a port header?

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Headers are important for structural integrity in door and window framing, required by building codes. They are hidden under walls and can become a problem during renovations. Ornamental headers can be replaced easily for a new look.

A port header is built-in support on top of a port and may be known simply as a “header”. Windows also has headers. Classically, a door header is about twice as thick as the surrounding framing and is supported by king studs, another integral component of window and door framing. Headers are important to structural integrity and are required by law in many regional building codes. The term “headboard” is also used to describe ornamental moldings placed over the top of a door.

When doors and windows are framed, additional reinforcement is required. There are two reasons for this. The first is that doors and windows have structural weaknesses because the mullions have to be omitted or moved to accommodate the opening. The second is that doors and windows place stress on a structure when they are used. Doors in particular are weak points, as opening and closing a door places great strain on the surrounding framework.

Many building codes have specific regulations on how doors should be framed. King pins run along the side of the frame to provide support and take some of the door’s weight and tension, and the door header connects the top of the door, supported by the King pins. Some door headers are solid beams that have been chosen for their thickness, while others are made by sticking several pieces of wood together.

Average individuals never see the door header, because it is hidden under the walls, along with the rest of the house shot. Door headers can become a problem during renovations, as older homes may have smaller and therefore weaker headers, and the headers are at risk of rotting, just like other frame components. A contractor may recommend that door and window headers be replaced when doors and windows are replaced, even if the casing does not need to be re-laid to accommodate a new door or window.

In a decorative sense, headers run along the tops of the doors to make them more visually interesting. Headers are usually made with wood or plaster moldings and can range from relatively understated classic designs to elaborate friezes, depending on the look and feel of the home. Ornamental door headers are usually easy to replace, and changing ornamental headers can be a great way to change the look of a room without spending a large amount of money on remodeling.

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