What is Lintel Beam

What Is Lintel Beam: Size, Thickness & Construction

Lintel beams 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.

Lintel Beam
Lintel Beam

A lintel beam 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.

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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There are several different types of lintels beams 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.

Timber Lintel Beam
Wooden Lintel

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
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 Lintel Beam
Brick Lintel

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 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

Reinforce Cement Concrete
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 Lintel Beam
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

Reinforced Brick Lintel
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 Lintel
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.

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.

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