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Basement -- Steel support beams, and how to use them?

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Oct 01, 2013, 03:08 PM
Basement -- Steel support beams, and how to use them?
Hey all,

I recently had some support beams installed, from the ground up to the floor boards due to a bowing wall. All is well, and now we have the peace of mind that we were looking for. I have been hoping to finish the basement for some time now, but am a severe novice. Can I use this new beams as framing for walls?

I will add pictures as soon as I am able, but these beams are about 12-14 inches deep, and are spaced fairly evenly. I would only be finished half of the basement that even possible?

Thanks for any replies.

Oct 01, 2013, 06:07 PM
Pictures will be good to clarify what you really have. FYI, some terminology: Beams are horizontal support pieces. Usually I-beams or H-beams (named by their shape in cross-section). A support post will be vertical, going from ground (footing) to the upper framing. For now, since you say that your "beams" go from the ground to the floor boards, I am assuming that you have installed posts, not beams.

Any support posts must support a beam - they cannot be directly supporting either the floor boards or the floor joists that support them. Instead, two or more posts will have a new beam on top, this beam will support the joists above it. Much like most of the images here:

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As to your original question - If you do have posts, then you can contain them within framed walls. Most residential support posts of this type are 3" in diameter, so they will fit inside a standard 3-1/2" framed wall. Actually, if you are building a framed wall in line with these steel posts, you can remove the posts and just use the wooden framing as the support. In essence, you are building a load-bearing wall under a new beam.

All of this is way beyond novice range - you really should consult with someone with eyes on this project before making any further plans.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,

Oct 02, 2013, 01:04 PM
I know it isn't the main thrust of your post but, I wouldn't recommend removing the posts and building a load bearing wall to replace it to anyone sight unseen from a forum post. In my own basement I have a glue lam beam with a wall built under it and steel support posts by the builder. Any changes to the supporting posts needs to be signed off by an engineer. The steel support posts likely have footers below the slab to support the bearing point weight of the columns. Granted a load bearing wall will spread it out over a wider area than the steel posts.

In my basement the wall with the support posts is at a point where most layouts would place a wall anyway.

General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Oct 02, 2013, 09:05 PM
That was why I included my final paragraph sentence. I cannot recommend that any DIYer seeking information from this forum do anything that is structural without consulting a knowledgable on-site person..

At the same time, it's almost always a no-brainer that if there is a beam supported by two or three posts then the support can be replaced by a load-bearing wall with support on 16" centers. As long as the concrete under the new wall is strong then a bearing wall will support the beam as well or better than a few columns.

Oct 03, 2013, 12:08 PM
NOBODY touches support posts and beams without an engineering study and professionals with permits.


a house weighs tens of tons. you don't want to wear it. it's not becoming.

walling them in is no problem at all. when we redid our basement, and cut back the stairwell wall, I even boxed out around the end post a little further to allow for electrical boxes for the lights. I put an oak column around the center, exposed, post. it was an opportunity to inspect them all, and make sure there was no rust damage or sideways movement.

anything other than surface rust that a little RustOleum would displace and protect, I would have picked up the phone and written the check.

you want to do anything decorative, build a box around the beam supported by the rafters, drywall it, and decorate that. by the time you carry everything downstairs and move the pile twice, you will get an appreciation of how heavy that little bit of material is, and put it up so it stays up.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,

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