How To Set Basement
One of the first
steps in the construction of a new home is
how to set the steel beams and columns in the basement and/or
space. This supports the floor joists and usually runs the
of the house at mid span in most homes. Not only does this
support the floor, but usually has the weight of bearing
ceilings, second floors, second floor bearing walls and
roofs tranfered down to it.
The first step is to install the sill plates on the
wall (see How To Install Sill Plates). This gives you a
place to nail 2x4 bracing to hold columns and beams in place
while you install them. Once set in place these braces hold the
steel till the floor joists are nailed in to taketheir
Before I continue, a word of caution. Homebuilding can be
dangerous activity. Care and safety are a must in all phases
the construction process. Setting steel definitely falls
this category. Steel I beams can weigh anywhere from 100
to 400 pounds
depending on their size and length. Beams can be lifted
place manually but I would recommend the use of a crane. Not
can the beams be put in place safely, but it can also quicken
With the sill plates in place the steel can be set. One end
the first steel beam typically starts in a beam pocket formed
top of the foundation wall. The other end sits on top of a
column. A typical column is 3 1/2" in diameter and filled
concrete. It has a flange welded to the top with holes in it
match holes in the bottom flange of the beam. The beam is
onto the column and then bolted together.
To make this happen, I like to use four people. One to hold
beam in the pocket, one to hold the column, one man on a
to guide and bolt the beam onto the column and one man to
off bracing to sill plates. Braces (2x4's) are laid flat on
bottom flange of the beam on both sides of the web and then
nailed to the sill plates on opposing walls.
The next beam is now ready to be set. With one person
next column, the next beam is lowered onto the new column and
previous column. Men on ladders guide it into place and bolt
down. Again 2x4's are used to brace the beam to the outside
foundation walls. This procedure is repeated until you get to
beam pocket at the other end of the building, or a column
terminates at an opening.
To keep beams level and straight, I like to use a dry line
beam pocket to beam pocket (this can also be done with a
First I drive a nail in the sill plate corresponding with
edge of the beam. Most beams run pocket to pocket. If this is
case I'll drive a nail in the plate by that pocket at the
dimension as the first nail, measured from a common
point, usually the front or back sill plate. I now have a
reference point to line up the edge of the beams with and
in a staight installation.
Assuming the foundation and sill plates are level, this
can be used to level the steel beams (again, a laser can be
used). After most beam installations a 2x plate is either
or shot with a powder actuated tool to the top of the beam.
is to bring it level with the sill plates and to provide
for the floor joists. Using a 2x block as a gauge, lay it on
top of the beam where it sits on a column. This simulates
plate that will be installed later. Shim the column till
block touches the bottom of the dry line. Repeat this for
column. Columns are shimmed with steel plates of various
thicknesses. These shims are provided by the steel
The next step is to plumb the lally columns on their
pads. Using a 4-foot level, the columns are tapped into
with a sledge hammer. Make sure the steel shims remain under
columns. After all columns are plumbed up, the concrete floor
be poured. This holds the columns in place.
The next step is to frame the floor. Once the floor joists
nailed in place all bracing can be removed. The joists are
holding the steel in place.
Just like the foundation, setting the steel straight and
important to producing a quality home.
(c) Mike Merisko www.sawkerfs.com