Structural Engineers in Cumbria, England, U.K. JS Engineering Design Ltd.
Consulting Structural Engineers

Beams and lintels

Tel: 01768 890261

JS Engineering Design Ltd. can give advice and provide the calculations and details needed for your project, be it a simple beam or a complex framework. See the checklist below.
What are they?
Beams are members that span across openings and support structure or loading above them. In buildings they are often used to support walls or floors across openings in walls on the floor below. Lintels are short beams used across window and door openings. Posts can be used to support beams and make a frame. These can range in form from balconies to large framed industrial buildings.
  Different types
Beams are usually in timber, steel or reinforced concrete. Other materials can be used such as aluminium, glass, or reinforced brickwork, but these are more unusual.

Timber beams are often used to trim timber floors around stairs or balconies and frame openings in stud walls. In older buildings large bulks of timber are used to support stone walls and chimneys. Engineered timber beams such as glu-laminated beams and ply-web beams can extend the spans and load carrying capacity above that of standard sawn timber.

Steel beams are stronger size for size than timber and are used where timber beams are impractical or too large.

Reinforced concrete beams are used for lintels and beams especially where special fire resistance is needed such as for public and institutional buildings. Size for size they are similar to timber beams and larger than equivalent steel beams.

Designing beams
Beams generally have to be designed, i.e. the loads carried by the beam calculated and compared with the strength of the beam. Lintels over small openings are generally sized from manufacturers load tables. Other beams have to be individually calculated. As well as the strength of the beam other factors have to be considered. Such as:

the beam will not deform or bend too much;

no vibration pattern will occur; and that

the beam supports have sufficient strength

This last item can involve following the beam load down through the building to the foundations and can create more calculations than the beam itself! If the beam is to replace an existing wall then the effect of this on the overall stability of the building, and in some cases adjacent buildings, also has to be considered. Walls provide lateral as well as vertical support, and simple beams cannot replace the lateral support afforded by a wall.

JS Engineering Design Ltd. will:

Assess the structural significance of your project to other parts of the structure. This can be from plans or a site visit.

Calculate the loads the new element has to carry.

Design the smallest and cheapest element possible for the situation - bearing in mind a sufficient factor of safety.

Provide structural calculations to prove the design and satisfy Local Authority Building Control.

Give you peace of mind!

  The advantage of framing is that the interaction of the members can be used to provide lateral as well as vertical support. The interaction has to be carefully calculated and the joints detailed to provide the desired interaction.
JS Engineering Design Ltd., The Office, Mardale Rd., Penrith, Cumbria, U.K. CA11 9EH.
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