What Is Lintel?
A lintel is a horizontal structural element that spans an opening such as a door, window, or fireplace. It is typically made of reinforced concrete, steel, or wood and is designed to distribute the weight of the structure above the opening evenly to the surrounding walls or columns.
Lintels are an important component in the construction of buildings as they help support the weight of the structure and provide stability to the walls.
They are used to prevent the sagging or buckling of the structure above the opening and to distribute the weight of the structure to the surrounding walls or columns.
The size and type of lintel required will depend on the size and weight of the structure above the opening, as well as the materials used in the construction of the walls.
For example, a larger opening may require a thicker or wider lintel, or one made of a stronger material such as steel or reinforced concrete.
Lintels can also be used for decorative purposes, adding an architectural element to the building’s design. Decorative lintels may be made of materials such as brick or stone and may feature intricate designs or carvings.
In addition to their structural and decorative uses, lintels also play an important role in fire safety. Fire-rated lintels are designed to withstand high temperatures and help prevent the spread of fire between floors or compartments in a building.
Overall, lintels are a critical component in the construction of buildings, providing structural support and stability, as well as aesthetic and fire safety benefits. Properly designed and installed lintels are essential to ensuring the longevity and safety of the building
These beams are rectangular in plan and section and built with different materials.
Lintel Beam Size
The width of the lintel can be equal to the thickness of the opening & depth in the range between 1/12 to 1/8 of the span.
The minimum width of the lintel 4 inches (100 mm) should be provided.
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Types of Lintels
There are several different types of lintels, each with its own set of characteristics and uses
1. Wooden Lintel
Timber or wooden lintels are the oldest kinds of lintels and are commonly used in hilly terrain areas where timbers are not locally available, but nowadays they are replaced by several modern techniques.
Timber lintel beam is expensive, less durable, and vulnerable to fire, and is fixed with the help of steel bolts.
It is constructed by joining more than two numbers of wooden pieces if the length of the opening is more.
It consists of two or more wooden pieces kept at a distance with the help of packing pieces made of wood, and sometimes by the provision of mild steel plates at their top.
There are some advantages of timber lintel such as,
- It is vulnerable to fire and also less durable.
Timber lintels are likely to be structurally weak than other materials and timber is obligated to rot without appropriate ventilation.
2. Stone Lintels
Stone lintel beam is generally used in such areas where the stone is plentifully accessible and the thicknesses of these are the most important factor of its design & also provided over the openings in brick walls.
They are mostly used in mountainous buildings as they weigh too much and are due to the non-availability of other materials for their construction.
The thickness of the stone lintel is a significant factor in its design.
In the form of either one single piece or more than one piece, the stone lintel is provided and the thickness is taken as 4cm per 30cm length of span and the minimum should be 8cm as a thumb rule.
These stone lintels have some problems such as;
- They are not used in buildings where vibratory loads are subjected to the structure due to their weak tensile strength.
- Its transportation is a very complex task and is difficult to deploy them in cities.
- Not able to withstand excessive transverse stress.
3. Brick Lintel
Brick lintels are provided with hard, well burnt first-class brick. It can be constructed as bricks on the end, bricks on the edge and coursed bricks laid horizontally over openings.
Brick lintels are structurally not very strong. The drop of the brick lintel depends on the span and is built over temporary wooden centering.
This type of lintel is utilized when the opening of the wall is small (less than 1mt.) with light loadings.
Depending upon the span their depths vary from 10cm to 20cm and at end joints, bricks with frogs filled with mortar give more shear resistance.
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4. Reinforced Concrete Lintel
RCC has replaced usually all other materials for the lintel. These lintels are fire-proof, durable, strong, and easy to construct.
Generally, the concrete mix used for lintel is 1:2:4. Plain lintels can be used up to a span of 800mm. The amount of reinforcement depends upon the span.
For heavy loads and larger spans, they are suitable and for every meter, their thickness is kept around up to 8cm and can be precast or cast-in-situ.
RCC lintels can be cast in situ. RCC lintels are suitable for spans up to 2m. Also, they increase the speed of construction.
To resist the tensile stress, main reinforcement bars are used at the bottom, and at the ends, half of these bars are cranked.
There are some advantages of reinforced concrete lintel;
- These lintels are strong, rigid, and durable.
- The reinforced concrete lintel has fire-resisting properties.
- The main advantage of the RC lintels is their adaptability to suit any size and shape.
- They are easy to construct and economical.
- Reinforcement is used to overcome the low workable issue in concrete and these lintels are most commonly used.
5. Steel Lintel
Steel lintels can be suitable when the superimposed loads are heavy, and the opening gaps are significant.
Steel lintels are recommended when the depth of the lintel plays an important role because the designer cannot ignore the depth of reinforced concrete lintels due to heavy loads.
Steel lintel contains channel section (C-section) or rolled steel joists or channel sections either singly or in a combination of two or three units.
In steel lintel, set back must be provided of 3/8” to 1/2” from the face of the wall so that a mortar joint may be formed in front of the steel without cracking.
The lintel must be set plumb and level so that the unit which is laid on it is also in the proper position. It is also necessary that a steel lintel has rust-protected paint.
Steel lintel has many advantages,
- Steel lintel can be employed to help heavier loads over more prominent separations without the need to change or strengthen.
- Steel lintels are impervious to rust, erosion, and distortion.
- Steel lintels are more practical and less labor-intensive.
6. Reinforced Brick Lintel
Heavy loadings & greater span length are the problems for brick lintels. These can be conquered by using reinforcement bars.
The depth of the reinforced brick lintels is equal to 10cm to 15cm.
The arrangement of the bricks should be such that there is enough space lengthwise between the adjacent bricks for the insertion of mild steel bars as reinforcement.
Cement mortar is utilized to fill up the gaps & in every third vertical joint, vertical stirrups of 6mm diameter are provided and the main reinforcement is provided at the bottom.
7. Precast Lintel
Precast concrete lintels are economical and provide strong support for structures like masonry over door and window openings.
Prestressed Precast lintels are used for the construction of residential & commercial buildings and are also available in different sizes.
Advantages of Lintel Beam
Some of the main advantages of lintel beams are listed below:
- They are easy to construct & look simpler.
- They are not necessary to build so firmly because, over the ending supports of lintels, the excessive load is not applied.
- They look simpler and are delicate.
- The framework is inexpensive and centering the lintel is easy.
Lintel Beam Purpose
These are the following purposes of the lintel beam such as;
- These beams are used to support the walls above the openings like windows & doors etc.
- As protection for the windows and doors, these beams are provided.
- These beams are installed to withstand the imposed loads coming from above blocks or bricks.
- It is provided to transfer its load to the side walls.
- Sometimes, the lintel beam is also used as a decorative architectural element.
In conclusion, a lintel is one type of horizontal structural element which supports the load above an opening in construction, like window and door, also lintel made from various material like steel, wood, concrete and stone provide crucial stability and support to the structure.
Types of lintel depends on factors such as length of span, architectural consideration and load requirement, proper installation and maintenance are essential for their longevity, lintel ensure the structural integrity of building and play a vital role in distributing loads and ensuring durability and safety.
What is a lintel in construction?
In construction, a lintel is a horizontal structural element that spans an opening, such as a door or window, to support the load above it.
What is the purpose of a lintel?
The main purpose of a lintel is to distribute the weight of the load above an opening to the vertical supports on either side, such as walls or columns, ensuring the stability and integrity of the structure.
Are lintels load-bearing elements?
Yes, lintels are load-bearing elements as they carry the weight of the structure above the opening and transfer it to the vertical supports on either side.
Can lintels be replaced if damaged?
Yes, if a lintel becomes damaged or deteriorated, it can be replaced. However, the replacement process may require temporary support to ensure the structural stability of the surrounding elements. It is recommended to consult a professional for the safe and proper replacement of damaged lintels.
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