In the 30-plus years we've been working in the Hoboken, N.J., area, we have replaced the window-door-window configuration on the rear wall of numerous row houses with a three-panel slider, mainly to bring in more light and provide better access to the backyard, but also to replace worn-out components, as many of these homes were built before 1900. Most Hoboken row houses were built with structural brick, so opening up the rear wall requires adding steel to support at least one upper story and sometimes two.

Typically, two pieces of steel are installed: The first is set into place on the inside half of the wall while the outer half of the brick wall remains intact; once that piece is fully supported, the outer brick is removed and the second piece of steel is installed (see "Retrofitting a Steel Header," Jun/12).

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