You’re looking at some crawl space foundation repair info or contracts and have come across the term hallway sill. What in the world is a *hallway sill* and what is its role in your foundation?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we understand that industry-specific terminology can leave homeowners in the dark. Contractors tend to throw around their lingo and meanwhile . . . you’re a little lost. We can clear the confusion and explain this *home part* for you. We work with sills of all kinds all the time, it’s a big part of our work with crawl space homes.
We don’t want anyone to have unanswered questions about their foundation repair proposals. Your estimate might be the first time you have seen this term. Let’s make sure you understand what it means.
This article will define and explain the term “hallway sill” and its role in the foundation of your pier and beam or crawl space home. We will discuss why hallway sills are sometimes needed and how they are installed so it’s clear what needs to be done to repair your home and how it benefits you.
Where Do Sills Fit Into Crawl Space Foundation Structure?
Just in case you need this general info, it’s helpful to make sure you’re oriented to the terms and basic structure of your home. If you’ve already got a handle on these *foundational* facts about crawl space foundations, feel free to skip to the next section.
Your crawl space or pier and beam foundation is built layer by layer in the beginning . . .
From the ground up, the layers go like this:
- Piers that elevate the home and transition up from the ground to the sill beams,
- Shims are inserted between the sill and piers to make small elevation adjustments and keep things as level as possible,
- Sill beams that hold up and support the floor joists,
- Floor joists that support the subfloor and the home structure,
- Subfloor that serves as an underlayment for your finished flooring surface, and
- Floor transitioning to framing and walls.
Sills fall somewhere in the middle of these layers and there are a few different types of sills that all serve different purposes or solve certain problems. You’ve got main sills, mud sills, shaker sills . . . but we’re just talking about hallway sills right now.
What Does a Hallway Sill Do For My Crawl Space Foundation?
Hallway sill beams are helpful components in crawl space foundation repairs in both pier and beam and block and base homes. Hallway sills are sometimes part of the original construction of crawl space foundations – but often, hallway sills are added to help out the other side of a hallway later on during a house leveling project.
In general, sills are large, long, and strong beams (typically made from wood on this home type) that help carry and distribute the weight of your home. What all types of foundation sills *do* is allow the structure to move from vertically oriented support with the stacked piers to a horizontal orientation by bridging the gaps between piers.
You have main sill beams that are key structural components of the entire home. Main sills tend to run the full length of the home wherever they are placed, whether that’s on the perimeter or running through the middle under load-bearing walls.
Then you have hallway sills placed under other interior walls of the home following along one side of a hallway. Hallway sills don’t run the whole length of the home, they usually are shorter and placed only in key locations where more support is needed. Hallway sills specifically give extra support to non-load-bearing interior hallway walls.
More About Hallway Sills and Non-Load-Bearing Walls
I know it’s kind of confusing to say “non-load bearing” walls because there is still a *load* that is being carried in a hallway sill situation which is why extra support is needed.
- Load-bearing walls carry weight from above for the roof structure.
- If you tried to remove load-bearing walls from your home, things would start to fall apart.
- Non-load-bearing walls are walls that don’t hold up any stuff above them.
- You could take non-load-bearing walls out completely and the structural integrity of your home would not be affected.
- But just because a non-load bearing wall isn’t carrying weight from above it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need extra support below it.
- A hallway sill is that *extra support* that carries the weight of the wall itself and any doors along the wall as well.
Why Does My Home Need Hallway Sills?
In older homes, sill beams were primarily placed under the load-bearing walls, and that was usually it. Other walls of the home did not always get supported from underneath. Or one side of the hallway had a hallway sill while the other side didn’t get the same treatment. We’re looking to provide the same support to the second side of the hallway in most cases.
So you have load-bearing interior walls that are supported underneath them with sill beams, but the non-load-bearing interior walls didn’t all get sill beams under them. The interior walls are still heavy all by themselves, even though they are not holding up weight from overhead.
Most of your foundation is also made from wood material that is subject to deterioration with age. Once time and gravity wear on an under-supported interior wall, the usual telltale result is fit and function problems with interior doors.
This issue is prevalent because they just used to build homes differently. We now know better what happens over time. Even though an interior wall might not be bearing a load from above, it’s still a load to bear for the floor joists underneath it. The floor joists have a really big job to do and it’s even bigger when there is an interior wall to hold up too.
Builders of older crawl space homes simply underestimated the amount of support needed for the long haul.
This situation is easy to remedy by giving your floor joists a little extra help to carry the weight of interior walls. Adding hallway sill beams as part of your house leveling project corrects the interior door issues that often pop up in this scenario.
How Are Hallway Sills Installed on a Pier and Beam Home?
Since hallway sills are most often an add-on component of your home’s foundation, installing them is relatively easy. You do not have to replace something that already exists. There’s no *removal of the old stuff* to do. Better yet, you do not have to remove something that is sandwiched between a bunch of other interconnected layers of the foundation. It’s all-new and simple to add.
Here’s how a hallway sill is installed:
- Identify the interior walls that are under-supported,
- Place new base/block combo piers under the span where a hallway sill is needed,
- Install a new 4 x 6” pressure-treated hallway sill beam on top of the new piers,
- Use shims to snug and secure the space between the piers and the sill, and then
- Screw the hallway sill to the bottom of the floor joists for long-term placement.
How Does a Hallway Sill Benefit My Home and Foundation?
If you need hallway sills, you should be all for it. Hallway sills are the solution for returning under-supported walls in crawl space homes to proper functioning. Adding hallway sills improves your home in these ways:
- Immediately restores interior doors to operational status,
- Creates a long-term solution to retain door functionality,
- Closes diagonal cracks in walls that may have resulted from poor support,
- Increases ground contact points for a more expansive footprint, and
- Improves overall home stability.
This is what foundation repair is all about for your crawl space home – everything working right and being well-supported so you can get back to enjoying life.
Ready to Get Your Crawl Space Home Repaired Now?
Now that you understand the important role of hallway sills in your foundation repair, what’s next? Well, if you’ve already got a proposal for foundation repairs with Anchor, go ahead and accept that proposal to get your job started as soon as possible.
After 35+ years in business, one of the most satisfying things we do at Anchor Foundation Repair is when we install hallway sills and see doors work again instantly. This simple and long-lasting solution is just the ticket to handle a common problem in under-built homes.
Maybe you’re still just learning about your crawl space foundation and aren’t ready to get started – that’s okay too. How about shims? They sound fun, don’t they? Between sills and piers, you will find shims.
Shims are small and mighty when it comes to finishing out your crawl space foundation repairs. Check out what kind of shims are best for house leveling here.