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Most builders install built-up dimension lumber headers over standard window and door openings without worrying about the loads. You just put in the same-size double 2x10 or 2x12 headers throughout the house — not only will they carry standard residential loads, but they also automatically keep the window and door heads at a uniform height. You can't beat sawn lumber for most small window headers, but as spans and loads increase, stronger materials are a better choice. Sawn lumber limits design potential and in some cases just doesn't work. LVL (laminated veneer lumber), Parallam, Timberstrand, and Anthony Power Beam are all good alternatives for longer-span and heavily loaded beams. In this two-part article, I'll compare how sawn lumber and these engineered materials