Title:
LOAD-BEARING FRAMING ASSEMBLY AND RELATED METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to header assemblies that support a downwardly directed load above an opening in the framing of a load-bearing wall, as well as to related methods. In one embodiment, a load-bearing framing assembly is disclosed. The load-bearing header assembly comprises: a pair of horizontally positioned header members for receiving a downwardly directed load; and a pair of parallel and vertically positioned sheet-metal jamb members. The header members are disposed within the jamb members. In another embodiment, a method for making a load-bearing wall assembly is disclosed. The method comprises at least the following steps: providing and positioning onto a floor and a ceiling respective bottom and top tracks; providing and vertically positioning within the top and bottom tracks a pair of jamb members; and providing and horizontally positioning within the pair of jamb members a pair of header members.



Inventors:
Klein, James A. (US)
Application Number:
11/465240
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
08/17/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HOLLOWAY, JASON R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOOP IP (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A load-bearing framing assembly, comprising: a pair of horizontally positioned header members for receiving a downwardly directed load, each header member being spaced apart and parallel to the other, each header member having first and second end sections; a pair of parallel and vertically positioned jamb members, each jamb member being spaced apart and confronting the other so as to define an opening, each jamb member being C-shaped or U-shaped and having an inwardly facing planar web flanked along its opposing vertical edges by confronting and outwardly directed flanges, with each flange being perpendicular to the web and having outer lips parallel to the web and confronting each other, each web having first and second apertures positioned a selected distance away from the bottom of the opening and spaced apart from each other, thereby defining a spacer section of the web, each of the first and second apertures being sized and configured to receive in an operative arrangement the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members; and wherein the load-bearing framing assembly is characterized in that the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members are received into the first and second apertures of each web of the pair of jamb members such that the outer lips of each flange abut or nearly abut the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members.

2. The load-bearing framing assembly according to claim 1 wherein the header members have C-shaped cross-sections.

3. The load-bearing framing assembly according to claim 2 wherein the C-shaped or U-shaped cross-sections of the jamb members are larger than the C-shaped cross-sections of the header members.

4. The load-bearing framing assembly according to claim 3 wherein the jamb members and header member are made of sheet-metal.

5. The load-bearing framing assembly according to claim 4 wherein the first and second apertures are rectangular shaped and the same size.

6. The load-bearing assembly according to claim 5 wherein the opening defines a window or a doorway.

7. The load-bearing framing assembly according to claim 5, further comprising top and bottom tracks, the top and bottom tracks being spaced apart and confronting each other with the jamb members being disposed therebetween so as to define a wall having the opening.

8. The load-bearing assembly according to claim 7 wherein the opening defines a window or a doorway.

9. A method for making a load-bearing wall assembly, comprising: providing and positioning onto a floor and a ceiling respective bottom and top tracks such that the top and bottom tracks are spaced apart and confronting each other; providing and vertically positioning within the top and bottom tracks a pair of jamb members such that each jamb member is spaced apart and confronting the other so as to define an opening, each jamb member being C-shaped or U-shaped and having an inwardly facing planar web flanked along its opposing vertical edges by confronting and outwardly directed flanges, with each flange being perpendicular to the web and having outer lips parallel to the web and confronting each other, each web having first and second apertures positioned a selected distance away from the bottom of the opening and spaced apart from each other, thereby defining a spacer section of the web, each of the first and second apertures being sized and configured to receive in an operative arrangement respective first and second end sections of a pair of header members; and providing and horizontally positioning the first and second end sections of the pair of header members within the first and second apertures such that each header member is spaced apart and parallel to the other and such that the outer lips of each flange abut or nearly abut the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to wall framing assemblies, and more particularly, to header assemblies that support a downwardly directed load above an opening in the framing of a load-bearing wall, as well as to related methods.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Metal framing assemblies used to construct commercial and residential buildings are common in the building construction arts. These metal framing assemblies are generally constructed from a plurality of metal framing members including studs, joist, trusses, and other metal posts and beams formed from sheet metal and frequently fabricated to have the same general cross-sectional dimensions as standard wood members used for similar purposes. Metal framing members are typically constructed by roll-forming 12 to 24 gauge galvanized sheet steel. Although many cross-sectional shapes are available, the primary shapes used in residential construction are C-shaped studs and U-shaped tracks.

C-shaped metal studs are typically formed of galvanized sheet-metal bent to encompass a cross-sectional area having nominal dimensions of two inches by four inches. To conform to modern architectural plans and building code requirements, metal studs are formed of sheet-metal bent into a generally C-shaped cross-section in which a relatively broad central base is flanked by a pair of narrower sides that are bent at right angles relative to the base. The central base typically has a uniform nominal width of either four inches or 3⅝ inches and is commonly referred to as the web. The sides of the C-shaped stud typically extend outwardly from the base a nominal distance of two inches and are commonly referred to as flanges. Flanges extending 1¼ or 1½ inches are also common in the trade. To enhance the structural rigidity of the flanges, the ends of flanges are typically bent over into a plane parallel to and spaced apart from the plane of the web. The turned over edges of the flanges define marginal lips that are typically ¼ to ½ inch in width. These lips are also commonly referred to as returns.

In an alternate embodiment of a C-shaped metal stud, instead of lips, a second flange is located along the peripheral edges of the first flange. Like the lips, the second flanges are typically parallel to and spaced apart from the plane of the web. To increase the strength of the studs, the peripheral edges of the second flanges may be bent inwardly to form a pair of confronting lips (or returns) that are parallel to the first flanges. Studs including this C-shaped configuration can be purchased under the trade name HDS Framing Systems manufactured by Dietrich Metal Framing. HDS studs with 3⅝ inches wide webs typically have a pair of second flanges that are 1 1/16 inches wide and a pair of lips that are ¾ inches wide. HDS jamb members are also commercially available with a web that is 6 inches, a pair of first flanges that are 3 inches, a pair of second flanges that are 2¼ inches, and a pair of lips that are ¾ inches wide.

U-shaped tracks generally include a planar web section flanked along both longitudinally extending edges by a perpendicular flange or sidewall. The sidewalls confront each other and extend approximately the same distance from the web. U-shaped tracks perform many framing functions and are available in many standard sizes. In many applications, C-shaped studs or other framing members are received between the sidewalls and within the opening of a U-shaped track.

Steel framing can be used to build wall sections in a manner similar to that employed in conventional wooden wall framing. Steel framed wall sections are typically formed from a U-shaped top and a U-shaped bottom runner (also referred to as an upper and lower track) with a plurality of spaced apart C-shaped studs arranged at predetermined intervals between the top and bottom runners. For example, it is common practice to vertically position wall studs at 16 inch from center intervals.

Many architectural building plans include wall configurations, fixtures, and other architectural elements that interfere with the wall studs preventing them from traversing the full distance between the top and bottom runners. For example, at the location of openings in a load-bearing wall such as doors, windows, fireplaces, and the like, the studs, which are generally placed closer together than the width of the opening, interfere with the opening. Further, other aspects of building construction such as heating ducts, plumbing fixtures and piping, electrical components, and the like conflict with the framing studs and sometimes prevent the studs from traversing the full distance between the top and bottom runners.

If for some reason the studs are prevented from extending the full distance between the top and bottom runners, a header assembly must be installed to bear the load that would have been born by the studs. A typical header assembly includes a pair of spaced apart vertical jamb members defining an opening therebetween and at least one horizontal header member bridging the opening between the vertical jamb members. Generally, the jamb members are positioned so that their webs confront each other along opposite sides of the opening defined between the jamb members. The header member receives the load above the opening and transfers a portion of that load to the vertical jamb members. If the top of the opening is directly below the top runner, the header assembly may abut the underside of the top runner. Otherwise, one or more shortened studs (often referred to as cripple or kicker studs) span the distance between the top runner and the top surface of the header assembly. Typically, the kicker studs are located at the same center spacing as the other wall framing studs.

For many applications, specially constructed jamb members are required. Jamb members are typically capable of supporting a larger load than a wall stud and for this reason, may be constructed from a heavier gauge sheet metal or have a larger cross-sectional area than a wall stud. While jamb members can be distinguished from wall studs, jamb members may be constructed with C-shaped cross-sections and cross-sectional areas similar to those of wall studs.

The construction of a header assembly requires either the purchase of a specialized header member (and/or related clips) or the costly and inefficient modification of standard framing members such as studs. Specialized header members specially constructed to couple with jamb members are common in the trade. Many of these specialized header members are configured to interface with one or more clips or other coupling assemblies that couple the header member to the jamb members. For example, the ProX header manufactured by Brady Construction Innovations, Inc. includes a generally W-shaped header member (and optionally an M-shaped insert) that is attached at both ends to the jamb members by clips mounted to the jamb members. ProX headers are available in 2½, 3⅝, 4, 6, and 8 inch widths and 40, 60, and 80 inch lengths. Similarly, the following patents disclose header assemblies that use specialized header members and/or clips in their construction: U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,782 to Jewell (discloses an assembly for performing a header connection that includes a header member with a pair of longitudinally projecting flanges disposed on each end which are fastened to a corresponding set of flanges disposed on the jamb members), and U.S. Pat. No. 5,689,922 to Daudet (discloses a metal structural framing for building construction, including a one-piece jamb member and a one-piece load-bearing header member connected to the jamb member).

Many header assemblies including the costly and inefficient modification of standard framing members such as studs can be found in the prior art. For example, one method of constructing a header assembly from two standard C-shaped framing members, such as studs, involves removing a portion of the flanges and lips attached thereto from the ends of two framing members. The portion removed extends from each end of the framing member for a distance less than or approximately equal to the width of the sides of the jamb members formed by the outside surface of the flanges perpendicular to the web. In this manner, only a section of the web projects from both ends of the C-shaped framing members. The projecting web sections located at the ends of the C-shaped framing members are bent outwardly slightly away from the flanges. Then, the header members are mounted one at a time to the pair of spaced apart jamb members by placing the projecting web sections flush against the sides of the jamb members and attaching the projecting web sections thereto with a plurality of fasteners such as screws. Typically, the header members are mounted at approximately the same height along opposite sides of the jamb members. In this manner, two header members may span one pair of jamb members in a substantially parallel and horizontal load-bearing arrangement.

This method has several drawbacks. First, mounting the web of the C-shaped member to the sides of the jamb members creates an undesirable mound of metal and/or fasteners that extends above the planar surface of the side of the jamb members and may be difficult to disguise within the finished wall. Second, the load transferred to the header members is transferred first to the fasteners, such as screws, bolts, or rivets, connecting the header members to the jamb members before the load is transferred to the jamb members. Therefore, the load-bearing capacity of the header assembly is dependent upon the type and quantity of fasteners used. Finally, this method requires the modification of standard building materials at the work site and renders the construction of each header assembly a time consuming and costly custom framing project.

One method of reducing the labor involved in constructing a header assembly using header members constructed from two standard C-shaped framing members, such as studs, is to use clips to attach the header members to the jamb members. For example, Curtain Wall manufactures a clip under the trademark STIFFCLIP® that removes the need to modify the header members. These clips include a substantially planar plate and a single bottom flange perpendicular to and formed along a portion of the bottom edge of the plate. The plate of the clip is positioned immediately adjacent to both the web of one of the header members and the side of one of the jamb members and spans the gap between the header member and the jamb member. The plate includes a plurality of pre-punched holes into which a plurality of fasteners such as screws are received. The underside of the header member abuts and is cradled by the bottom flange of the clip for additional support. Because one clip attaches the web of only one of the header members to the side of one of the jamb members, a total of four clips are required to construct a single header assembly. Dietrich Metal Framing manufactures a similar clip, also referred to as a hanger, under the trade name H-Series Universal Header Hanger. While clips such as those described above may reduce the time required to construct the header assembly, they do not address the other drawbacks of the previously described method.

Therefore, a need exists for header assemblies that incorporate standard metal framing components. A need also exists for header assembly designs that do not depend upon the quality and quantity of fasteners used to attach the header member(s) to the jamb members to achieve the desired load-bearing capability. Further, a need exists for header assemblies that can be assembled and installed more efficiently. A need also exists for header assemblies that avoid the creation of an undesirable mound of metal and/or fasteners at the intersection of the header members and jamb members that must be disguised within the finished wall. The present invention fulfills these needs and provides for further related advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the present invention is directed to a load-bearing framing assembly that comprises: a pair of horizontally positioned header members for receiving a downwardly directed load, each header member being spaced apart and parallel to the other, each header member having first and second end sections; a pair of parallel and vertically positioned sheet-metal jamb members, each jamb member being spaced apart and confronting the other so as to define an opening, each jamb member being c-shaped and having an inwardly facing planar web flanked along its opposing vertical edges by confronting and outwardly directed flanges, with each flange being perpendicular to the web and having outer lips parallel to the web and confronting each other, each web having first and second apertures positioned a selected distance away from the bottom of the opening and spaced apart from each other, thereby defining a spacer section of the web, each of the first and second apertures being sized and configured to receive in an operative arrangement the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members; and wherein the load-bearing framing assembly is characterized in that the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members are received into the first and second apertures of each web of the pair of jamb members such that the outer lips of each flange abut or nearly abut the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members.

In another embodiment, the present invention is directed to a method for making a load-bearing wall assembly, wherein the method comprises at least the following steps: providing and positioning onto a floor and a ceiling respective bottom and top tracks such that the top and bottom tracks are spaced apart and confronting each other; providing and vertically positioning within the top and bottom tracks a pair of jamb members such that each jamb member is spaced apart and confronting the other so as to define an opening, each jamb member being C-shaped or U-shaped and having an inwardly facing planar web flanked along its opposing vertical edges by confronting and outwardly directed flanges, with each flange being perpendicular to the web and having outer lips parallel to the web and confronting each other, each web having first and second apertures positioned a selected distance away from the bottom of the opening and spaced apart from each other, thereby defining a spacer section of the web, each of the first and second apertures being sized and configured to receive in an operative arrangement respective first and second end sections of a pair of header members; and providing and horizontally positioning the first and second end sections of the pair of header members within the first and second apertures such that each header member is spaced apart and parallel to the other and such that the outer lips of each flange abut or nearly abut the respective first and second end sections of the pair of header members.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become more evident upon reference to the following detailed description and attached drawings. It is to be understood, however, that various changes, alterations, and substitutions may be made to the specific embodiments disclosed herein without departing from their essential spirit and scope. Finally, it is expressly provided that all of the various references cited herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties for all purposes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings are intended to be illustrative and symbolic representations of certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention and as such they are not necessarily drawn to scale. In addition, and for purposes of clarity, like reference numerals have been used to designate like features throughout the several views of the drawings.

FIG. 1 illustrates a side perspective view of a load-bearing framing assembly adapted for use as a header assembly for supporting the load above an opening in the framing of a wall.

FIG. 2 illustrates a partial side perspective sectional view of one embodiment of the load-bearing framing assembly illustrated in FIG. 1 with one of the header members removed to better illustrate aspects of the invention taken at the sectioning plane and in the direction indicated by line a-a defined in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates a partial side perspective view of one embodiment of a jamb member of the load-bearing framing assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 illustrates a partial side perspective view of a first alternate embodiment of a jamb member of the load-bearing framing assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates a partial side perspective sectional view of a second alternate embodiment of a jamb member of the load-bearing framing assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of the load-bearing frame assembly of FIG. 1 installed within an exemplary wall framing assembly that includes a top runner, bottom runner, and studs extending vertically between the top runner and bottom runner.

FIG. 7 illustrates a partial side perspective sectional view of one embodiment of the header members of the load-bearing framing assembly installed within the exemplary wall illustrated in FIG. 6 taken at the sectioning plane and in the direction indicated by line b-b defined in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 illustrates a side view of an alternate embodiment of the load-bearing frame assembly incorporating the jamb member of FIG. 5 wherein the top surfaces of the header members of the load-bearing frame assembly abut the inside surface of the web of the top runner of the exemplary wall framing assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding elements, and more particularly to FIGS. 1, 6, and 8, the present invention is directed to a load-bearing framing assembly 10 adapted for use as a header assembly for supporting the load above an opening in the framing of a wall. Load-bearing framing assembly 10 includes a pair of substantially parallel horizontal spaced apart header members 100a and 100b. Each of the header members 100a and 100b includes a first end 140a and 140b, respectively, and second end 160a and 160b, respectively.

Load-bearing framing assembly 10 also includes a pair of spaced apart vertical jamb members 200a and 200b, each with a C-shaped cross-section 202a and 202b, respectively. The spaced apart jamb members 200a and 200b define an opening 300 therebetween with bottom 302. As appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, the vertical jamb members 200a and 200b may be disposed within a U-shaped bottom track or bottom runner 400. In this manner, the bottom 302 of the opening 300 occurs along the inside surface 404 of the web 402 of the bottom runner 400.

Each of the vertical jamb members 200a and 200b includes a pair of apertures 240 and 242 (best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3) located a distance d from the bottom 302 of the opening 300. The first end sections 140a and 140b of the header members 100a and 100b are received into the apertures 240 and 242 of the first jamb member 200a. Similarly, the second end sections 160a and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b are received into the apertures 240 and 242 of the second jamb member 200b. In this manner, the top of opening 300 is defined by the underside of header members 100a and 100b. Fasteners 280 may be used to affix the ends of the header members 100a and 100b to the vertical jamb members 200a and 200b.

Referring to FIG. 2, the structure of the header members 100a and 100b will be discussed in detail. FIG. 2 is a sectional view of one embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 1 taken at the sectioning plane and in the direction indicated by line a-a defined in FIG. 1. Header member 100a has been removed from FIG. 2 to provide a better view of aspects of the invention. While the structure of the header members 100a and 100b will be discussed with reference to header member 100b, it is understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that header member 100a includes structural components identical or substantially similar to those of header member 100b.

Header members 100a and 100b may include a generally C-shaped cross-section 102. The C-shaped cross-section 102 may include a planar web 104 flanked along its opposing horizontal edges 106 and 108 by flanges 110 and 112, respectively. Flanges 110 and 112 extend perpendicularly from the web 104 in substantially the same direction and for substantially the same distance from the web 104. Optionally, flanges 110 and 112 may be bent along edges 114 and 116 to form a pair of lips 118 and 120 that are perpendicular to the flange from which they extend. The lips 118 and 120 are generally parallel to the web 104 and extend from edges 114 and 116 toward each other. In one embodiment, header members 100a and 100b are constructed from a section of a standard C-shaped metal stud.

Referring to FIG. 3, one embodiment of the structure of the jamb members 200a and 200b will be discussed in detail. Typically, jamb members 200a and 200b will be constructed and configured to exhibit substantially identical structural features. One embodiment of jamb member 200b suitable for use with the present invention can be best viewed in FIG. 3. Jamb member 200b may include a C-shaped cross-section 202b. C-shaped cross-section 202b may include a planar web 204 flanked along its opposing horizontal edges 206 and 208 by flanges 210 and 212, respectively. For typical residential constructions, the width of the web 204 between the flanges 210 and 212 may be about 3½ or 5½ inches, and for ordinary commercial/industrial constructions about 3⅝, 6, 8, or 10 inches. However, as is appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, the width of the web 204 may be increased or decreased as desired for customized installations. Flanges 210 and 212 extend perpendicularly from the web 204 in substantially the same direction and for substantially the same distance from the web 204. Typically, the flanges 210 and 212 extend about 1⅜, 1⅝, 2, or 2½ inches from the web 204. Optionally, flanges 210 and 212 may be bent along edges 214 and 216 to form a pair of confronting lips 218 and 220 that are substantially parallel to the web 204 and extend from edges 214 and 216 toward each other. Each lip 218 and 220 extends about ⅜ to ⅝ inches.

Web 204 includes two apertures 240 and 242 located distance d from the bottom 302 of the opening 300. Referring to FIG. 2, the header members 100a and 100b may include a C-shaped cross-section 102 that resides within a predetermined spatial envelope. The shape and size of apertures 240 and 242 are configured to accommodate the spatial envelope occupied by the C-shaped cross-section 102 of the header members 100a and 100b. In this manner, each of the apertures 240 and 242 may be suitably shaped and sized to receive one end section 140a, 140b, 160a, or 160b of header member 100a or 100b. Apertures 240 and 242 may be formed using any suitable method known in the art for forming apertures in the sheet metal of metal framing members.

In one embodiment, the vertical height of the apertures 240 and 242 is larger than the vertical height of the C-shaped cross-section 102 of the header member 100a or 100b received therein allowing vertical movement of the header member 100a or 100b within the aperture 240 or 242. In this manner, the header members 100a and 100b can be positioned vertically to achieve a square and plumb load-bearing framing assembly 10. Additionally, the width of the apertures 240 and 242 may be larger than the width of the C-shaped cross-section 102 of header member 100a or 100b allowing lateral movement of the header member 100a or 100b within aperture 240 or 242. In this manner, the header members 100a and 100b can be rotated within the apertures 240 and 242 and/or positioned laterally to achieve a square and plumb load-bearing framing assembly 10. As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, spacers and shims (not shown) may be used to limit or prevent movement of the header members 100a and 100b within the apertures 240 and 242.

Apertures 240 and 242 define a spacer section 260 therebetween. Spacer section 260 determines the lateral spacing of the horizontal header members 100a and 100b. In embodiments including C-shaped jamb members 200a and 200b each including a longitudinal opening occurring opposite the web 204, the spacer section 260 may act as a guide that directs the end sections 140a, 140b, 160a, and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b into lips 118 and 120. In this manner, the end sections 140a, 140b, 160a, and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b abut the lips 118 and 120 of each jamb member 200a and 200b instead of passing through the longitudinal opening in the jamb member 200a and 200b. The spacer section 260 may also limit the lateral movement of the header members 100a and 100b and provide opposition to inwardly directed lateral forces. In particular, the spacer section 260 may limit the lateral movement of the header members 100a and 100b during the attachment of fasteners 280 that provide an inwardly directed lateral force on the portion of the web 104 occurring along the first end sections 140a and 140b and second end sections 160a and 160b.

Referring to FIG. 4, the structure of jamb member 500, an alternate embodiment of the C-shaped cross-section structure of the jamb members 200a and 200b, will be described. The two least significant digits of the reference numbers of jamb member 200b and jamb member 500 identify identical or corresponding structures of the two embodiments. For this reason, only the structures of jamb member 500 that differ from those of jamb members 200b and structures related thereto will be described.

Jamb member 500 includes a C-shaped cross-section 502 including a planar web 504 flanked along its opposing horizontal edges 506 and 508 by flanges 510 and 512, respectively. Flanges 510 and 512 extend perpendicularly from the web 504 in substantially the same direction and for substantially the same distance from the web 504. The flanges 510 and 512 may be bent along edges 514 and 516 to form a second pair of flanges 519 and 521 that extend from edges 514 and 516 toward each other for a predetermined distance. The second pair of flanges 519 and 521 may be bent along edges 523 and 525 to form a pair of lips 527 and 529. In this embodiment, the lips 527 and 529 extend from edges 523 and 525 toward the web 504. As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, while the cross-sectional shape of jamb member 500 varies from the cross-sectional shape of jamb member 200b, apertures 540 and 542 may be shaped, sized, located, and constructed in the same manner as apertures 240 and 242 of jamb member 200b.

Referring to FIG. 5, the structure of jamb member 600, an alternate embodiment of the structure of the jamb members 200a and 200b, will be described. The two least significant digits of the reference numbers of jamb member 200b and jamb member 600 identify identical or corresponding structures of the two embodiments. For this reason, only the structures of jamb member 600 that differ from those of jamb members 200b and structures related thereto will be described. Jamb member 600 is adapted to form a load-bearing framing assembly 10′ that abuts the top runner 420 (please refer to FIG. 8 to view one embodiment of such a configuration). Jamb member 600 differs from jamb member 200b only with respect to apertures 640 and 642. Specifically, unlike apertures 240 and 242 which are completely defined by the web 204, apertures 640 and 642 are open along the top edge. In this manner, the top surfaces of header members 100a and 100b formed by the outside surfaces of the flanges 112 may abut the inside surface 424 (FIG. 7) of the top runner 420. While the C-shaped cross-section 602 of jamb member 600 has been described as generally consistent with that of the embodiment described with reference to FIG. 3, it is appreciated by those of ordinary skill that alternate and equivalent C-shaped cross-sectional shapes including the cross-sectional shape described with reference to FIG. 4 may be used to construct jamb member 600.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, load-bearing framing assembly 10 may include an optional U-shaped top track 700 disposed upon and affixed to the top surfaces formed by the outside surfaces of flanges 112 of the header members 100a and 100b. Top track 700 may include a horizontal web 702 flanked by two vertical flanges or sidewalls 704 and 706. In one embodiment, the outside surface of the horizontal web 702 of the top track 700 is attached to the top surfaces of the header members 100a and 100b with the vertical sidewalls 704 and 706 extending upwardly. The top track 700 may be affixed to the header members 100a and 100b by fasteners 708 such as screws extending from the inside surface of the horizontal web 702 of the top track 700 through the flanges 112 of the header member 100a and 100b. Kicker studs 910 may be affixed to the top track 700 between the sidewalls 704 and 706 by any method known in the art for effecting such an attachment including but not limited to fastening the flanges of the kicker studs 910 to the sidewalls 704 and 706 of the top track 700 with fasteners 710 and fastening the web 912 of the kicker studs 910 to the top track 700 with clips (not shown).

Load-bearing framing assembly 10 may include an optional U-shaped bottom track 720. Bottom track 720 may include a horizontal web 722 flanked by two vertical flanges or sidewalls 724 and 726. The inside surface of the web 722 of the bottom track 720 may be positioned adjacent to the bottom surfaces formed by the outside surfaces of flanges 110 of the header members 100a and 100b. In one embodiment, the inside surface of the horizontal web 722 of the bottom track 720 is attached to the header members 100a and 100b with the vertical sidewalls 724 and 726 of the bottom track 720 extending upwardly. In this configuration, the bottom track 720 cradles the bottom surfaces of the header members 100a and 100b, sandwiching the header members 100a and 100b between the vertical sidewalls 724 and 726 of the bottom track 720. The positioning of the bottom track 720 along the bottom surfaces of the header members 100a and 100b may be adjusted to achieve a square and plumb opening 300. The bottom track 720 may be affixed to the header members 100a and 100b by any method known in the art including fastening the sidewalls 724 and 726 of the bottom track 720 to the webs 104 of the header members 100a and 100b with fasteners 730 such as screws.

Insulation 180 may be installed in the cavities of the C-shaped header members 100a and 100b and into the longitudinal separation between the parallel horizontal header members 100a and 100b. In one embodiment, insulation 180 includes a generally rectilinear insulating element 182 configured for insertion into the ends of the header members 100a and 100b. Rectilinear insulating element 182 may include a pair of parallel longitudinal channels or grooves 184 located along both its top and bottom surfaces for receiving the lips 118 and 120 of each header member 100a and 100b. Alternatively, insulation 180 may include loose insulating material capable of being packed into the cavities of and longitudinal separation between the C-shaped header members 100a and 100b. Insulation 180 may be constructed from any suitable insulating material including Styrofoam, fiberglass, glass wool, and the like.

With reference to FIGS. 1, 6, and 7, a method of constructing an embodiment of load-bearing framing assembly 10 of the present invention will now be described. FIG. 6 depicts a load-bearing framing assembly 10 constructed in accordance with the present invention installed within an exemplary wall framing assembly 900. Exemplary wall framing assembly 900 includes top runner 420, bottom runner 400, and studs 902 extending vertically between the top runner 420 and bottom runner 400. Load-bearing framing assembly 10 may be constructed by affixing the top end of first vertical jamb member 200a to the top runner 420 and the bottom end of the first jamb member 200a to the bottom runner 400. In this manner, the first jamb member 200a traverses the vertical distance between the top and bottom runners 420 and 400 and supports a portion of the downwardly directed load applied to the top runner 420. The first jamb member 200a may be affixed to the top and bottom runners 420 and 400 by any method known in the art including but not limited to fastening the flanges 210 and 212 of the first jamb member 200a to the sidewalls 426 and 428 of the top runner 420 and the sidewalls 406 and 408 of the bottom runner 400. Alternatively, the first jamb member 200a may be affixed to the top and bottom runners 420 and 400 by fastening the web 204 of the first jamb member 200a to the top and bottom runners 420 and 400 with clips (not shown).

The first end sections 140a and 140b of the header members 100a and 100b are inserted into the apertures 240 and 242 of the first jamb member 200a until the first end sections 140a and 140b abut the lips 218 and 220 of the first jamb member 200a. Alternatively, in embodiments where jamb member 200a is constructed with the C-shaped profile consistent with that of jamb member 500, the first end sections 140a and 140b are inserted until they abut the lips 527 and 529. Optionally, insulation 180 may be inserted into the cavities of the C-shaped header members 100a and 100b and into the longitudinal separation between the parallel horizontal header members 100a and 100b. With respect to embodiments of insulation 180 including a rectilinear insulating element 182, rectilinear insulating element 182 may be inserted into the end of end sections 160a and 160b passing through the cavities of the C-shaped header members 100a and 100b and/or longitudinal separation between the parallel horizontal header members 100a and 100b until the inserted end of rectilinear insulating element 182 abuts the web 204 of jamb member 200a.

Next, the second end sections 160a and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b are inserted into the apertures 240 and 242 of the second jamb member 200b until the second end sections 160a and 160b abut the lips 218 and 220 of the second jamb member 200b. Alternatively, in embodiments where jamb member 200a is constructed with the C-shaped profile consistent with that of jamb member 500, the first end sections 140a and 140b are inserted until they abut the lips 527 and 529. Then, the second vertical jamb member 200b is affixed to the top and bottom runner 420 and 400 using any of the methods suitable for affixing the first jamb member 200a therebetween. The portions of the web 104 of the first end sections 140a and 140b and second end sections 160a and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b adjacent to the flanges 210 and 212 of the jamb members 200a and 200b may be affixed thereto with fasteners 280 that extend inwardly through the flanges 210 and 212 of the jamb members 200a and 200b into the portion of the web 104 of the header members 100a and 100b adjacent thereto.

Optional U-shaped top track 700 may be installed along to the top surfaces of the header members 100a and 100b by inserting fasteners 708 such as screws into the inside surface of the horizontal web 702 of the top track 700 through the flanges 112 of the header member 100a and 100b. A portion of the load applied to the top runner 420 may be transferred to the header members 100a and 100b by installing kicker studs 910 between the top runner 420 and top track 700. As described above, the kicker studs 910 may be affixed to the top track 700 between the sidewalls 704 and 706 by any method known in the art for effecting such an attachment. Optional bottom track 720 may be installed along the bottom surfaces of the header members 100a and 100b by inserting fasteners 730 such as screws into the sidewalls 724 and 726 of the bottom track 720 and into the webs 104 of the header members 100a and 100b. The attachment of optional bottom track 720 to header members 100a and 100b may be adjusted to achieve a square and plumb opening 300.

With reference to FIGS. 5 and 8, a method of constructing an alternate embodiment of load-bearing framing assembly 10 of the present invention will now be described. FIG. 8 depicts load-bearing framing assembly 10′ constructed in accordance with the present invention installed within a second exemplary wall framing assembly 900′. Second exemplary wall framing assembly 900′ includes top runner 420, bottom runner 400, and studs 902 extending vertically between the top runner 420 and bottom runner 400. In this embodiment, first vertical jamb member 600a, constructed in accordance with jamb member 600 depicted in FIG. 5, is affixed to the bottom runner 400 in the same manner that first vertical jamb member 200a of the previous embodiment was similarly affixed.

The open edges of the apertures 640 and 642 are disposed within the U-shaped top runner 420 and are immediately adjacent to the inside surface 424 of the web 422 of the top runner 420. The first end sections 140a and 140b of the header members 100a and 100b are inserted into the apertures 640 and 642 of the first jamb member 600a until the first end sections 140a and 140b abut the lips 618 and 620 of the first jamb member 600a. The top surface of the header members 100a and 100b formed by the outer surfaces of flanges 112 is positioned against the inside surface 424 of the web 422 of the top runner 420. In this manner, a portion of the downwardly directed load applied to the top runner 420 may be transferred to the header members 100a and 100b. As described above, optional insulation 180 may be inserted into the cavities of the C-shaped header members 100a and 100b and into the longitudinal separation between the parallel horizontal header members 100a and 100b.

Next, the second end sections 160a and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b are inserted into the apertures 640 and 642 of the second jamb member 600b until the second end sections 160a and 160b abut the lips 618 and 620 of the second jamb member 600b. The portions of the web 104 of the first end sections 140a and 140b and second end sections 160a and 160b of the header members 100a and 100b adjacent to the flanges 610 and 612 of the jamb members 200a and 200b may be affixed thereto with fasteners 280 that extend inwardly through the flanges 610 and 612 of the jamb members 600a and 600b into the portion of the web 104 of the header members 100a and 100b adjacent thereto. Similarly, fasteners 280 may be used to attach the jamb members 600a and 600b to the top runner 420. In this configuration, fasteners 280 extend inwardly through three layers metal including one of the sidewalls 426 or 428 of the top runner 420, one of the flanges 610 or 612 of jamb member 600a or 600b, and portion of the web 104 of header member 100a or 100b. The web 104 of the header members 100a and 100b may be fastened to the sidewall 426 or 428 of the top runner 420 with fasteners 430. An optional bottom track 720 of the same type described with reference to FIG. 6 may be positioned along the bottom surfaces formed by the outside surfaces of flanges 110 and attached to the header members 100a and 100b.

While the present invention has been described in the context of the embodiments illustrated and described herein, the invention may be embodied in other specific ways or in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. Therefore, the described embodiments are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing descriptions, and all changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.