Notching Joists

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Posted by: from Toronto
8/27/2012 at 11:18:15 AM


I have a bathroom remodel I would like to do. I am getting older and would like to create a barrier free shower area (no curb to step into the shower).

From what I understand I would have to raise the dry area of my bathroom to accommodate for the no curb. That would in turn make my floor uneven from the master bedroom into the bathroom.

Another option suggested was to notch out the joists in the wet area of the bathroom to lower my subfloor (only in the shower area and not in the dry area of the bathroom).

What, if any, is the code allowance depth to notch out joists?

Please let me know if additional information is necessary and thank you in advance for your time.


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Date/Time8/27/2012 at 12:11:42 PM

I would not advise notching floor joist no matter what.

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James in Toronto
Date/Time8/27/2012 at 12:28:15 PM

Thanks Tom, but could you please elaborate as to why you would advise against it, code, personal experience?


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Date/Time8/27/2012 at 12:59:03 PM

Do Not cut your joists. It is possible to alter them but you would require a structural engineer to tell you how to do it and it is likely to be expensive.

There are zero clearance possibilities for your shower that would not require you to raise the floor.

If you would like to know more please feel free to contact me or call a commercial plumbing supplier in your city.



Cell 613-913-0389

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Tanner from Reaper Mechanical in Edmonton
Date/Time8/27/2012 at 1:23:57 PM

There is no need to raise or lower any joists, and i have to agree that it is a bad idea. you can install a barrier free shower base. The opening to enter the shower is around 1/4 high, nothing that you have to step over, and it can be installed without altering any joists at all.

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David from Chetco Homes in Fort Erie
Date/Time8/27/2012 at 2:21:59 PM

My name is David. I am a retired custom home builder.

You can cut the joist if you scab on a second joist beside the one you cut. It all depends on the span of the joist. Some baths in Europe have the sower in the corner with just a drain. It will work if you tile your entire floor with a base board made of the same tile.

Thanks and good luck with your project.

David Chettle

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Alexander from Comfort Build Inc. in Toronto
Date/Time8/27/2012 at 5:04:00 PM

Hi, JD

There are provisions in the Ontario Building Code for notching floor joists, however in your situation you wouldn't be allowed to do so, having large framing experience I never recommend notching joists, but there is a way to "win" a small drop which would equal to the thickness of your sub floor typically being 3/4".

There's another option which is tiling the whole floor and having a floor frain as it is done in hospitals.

Thanks and good luck!

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Nathan from Deglan Construction in Surrey
Date/Time10/2/2012 at 2:22:53 PM

Im currently working on a handicap acces bathroom with a flush curb system.

I brainstormed this with my business partner.

Basically 3 methods:

1) - Cut out subfloor in shower pan area,

- install blocking on left and right sides of joist in shower pan area the thickness of your subloor down from the top of joists,

- reinstall subfloor between joists in shower pan area.

- you just gained likely 5/8 of an inch or more


2) - Waterproof/slope entire bathroom floor area

- Install drain in appropriate location in bathroom


3) - Find a friend with a building code in your area

- Look up span tables for certain dimensions of lumber

- Consider these are minimum values, and "bathrooms are heavier than bedrooms"

- Figure out how far your joists are spanning and the location of your bathroom on their span

- notch joists conservatively if possible.

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Date/Time1/19/2013 at 12:42:44 PM

We lower the framing in our shower builds all the time. There are so many ways to go about this.

A structural engineer will most times allow the 2"x10" floor joists to be doubled up and up to 1.5" removed. This depends on the quality of the framing member and the length of the floor joists.

Some engineers I work with prefer LVL's and have us rip 16" LVL's into 8" super joists.

We have done showers with 4"x8" fir beams as joists. We have boxed out these showers and dropped the ceiling below.

So many ways. Just make sure the city signs off on the new plan and a structural engineer accepts the work.

Do not let the jack of all trades pull out his sawsall to do knotching.

John Whipple. By Any Design Ltd.

(604) 506-6792

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