What are the Best Methods for Joist Repair?

Malcolm Tatum

Joists are a common part of the support structure of many buildings. There are joists used to support the floor, as well as joists that help add stability to a ceiling or roof. When one or more need to be repaired or replaced, it is important to know which approach to joist repair will yield the desired result with a minimum amountof effort.

Floor joists on new construction.
Floor joists on new construction.

Wood joists are likely to require replacement from time to time. Termites, exposure to adverse weather conditions, and general weight load over a period of time can cause the joists to weaken. When this is the case, the joist repair is likely to involve complete removal of the old joist and the insertion of a new one.

A standard car jack can be used to lift a floor joist during repairs.
A standard car jack can be used to lift a floor joist during repairs.

For example, joist repair on a floor is often managed by removing floorboards to expose the weakened joist. With this approach, it is possible to install a new joist next to the old one with relative ease. If desired, the older joist can then be removed, without causing any type of distress on the rest of the floor framework, and the flooring can be replaced. While somewhat labor-intensive, this approach often provides a more permanent solution that ensures that the procedure will not have to be repeated for a number of years.

However, it is possible to engage in joist repair by shoring up an old joist. This is particularly true with deck joists or floor joists when there is an adequate crawl space under the flooring. With this application, support beams are attached to either side of the weakened joist, and placed on concrete or steel pilasters. This helps to restore the floor to a level angle, while also taking pressure off the weak joist.

At times, the problem is not the joist itself, but its support network. When this is the case, the process of joist repair focuses not only replacing or repairing a damaged joist, but on improving the support mechanism. Brick or wood pilasters may have settled into the surrounding ground, placing addition stress on the joist. Correcting the situation involves using a simple jack to lift the joist off the supports, then replacing the wooden or brick supports with newer models that are driven into the ground, often down to the bedrock. Once the new supports are in place, the jacks are used to slowly lower the joist and the flooring back into a level position.

While many homeowners can handle minor issues of joist repair on their own, more intensive projects require the services of a professional. This is especially true when the weakened joists are placing additional stress on other architectural elements of the building. By having the job done properly before the entire structure is adversely affected, you end up saving a great deal of money, as well as making sure the structure remains fit for habitation.

View of second story floor joists from below.
View of second story floor joists from below.

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