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In structural engineering, beam analysis is crucial for building safety. There are many
different types of beam design from which to choose. It can sometimes be challenging
for even the most experienced engineer to decide on the best beam for each
architectural structure. Beam choice must provide the most structural integrity possible.
Different shapes, sizes, techniques and materials support different structural loads. The
I-beam, flitch, cantilever and hip are some of the most commonly used types of beam
The hip type of beam is used mostly in the construction of residential roofs. Hip beams
support the angled beam used in many house roof designs. The hip beam is designed
to support a triangular-shaped load, such as that of a sloped or pitched roof frame.
Cantilever beams are used to suspend structures such as balconies. Most of the weight
is distributed onto the foundation beams. This weight distribution permits a building
extension such as a balcony to be safely supported. Cantilever beams are also
sometimes referred to as an end load beam type since the loads are always supported
mainly on one side. Some bridges are designed with cantilever beams in their
Flitch beam design types are made from layers of wood and steel since they're
designed to be strong as well as lightweight. Since flitch beams aren't made of solid
steel, they're less expensive than pure metal varieties. A flitch beam type is used to nail
into place on wood structures to provide extra support. Pure steel beams can't be nailed
onto wood, so flitch beams have a distinct advantage over solid metal on wooden
building exteriors. Flitch beams are designed to support vertical loads.
I-beams are by far the most common type of beam design used in construction; they're
known as the universal beam. I-beams are columns that are straight in shape. They
may be arranged into different support patterns that can form L, W, H and V shapes,
among others. Rounded I-beams called C-channels may also be used in some specialty
construction applications. I-beams may be used to create long spans of support in
floors, walls and roofs.

The ceiling. It will be necessary to distinguish the revetment and the frame. The frame
will be the one that supports the loads that affect the ceiling and which will lay weight on
the walls and pillars.
The beams. These consist of the horizontal elements that rest over the floor. The
beams lean their weight over the pillars and are often times made out of metal or wood.
The walls. The walls of a building or house receive the weight of the different ceilings
and floors and pass this weight over to the foundation.
Concrete and steel floors and roofs. A roof is in essence the cover of a building.
When a high and big building is constructed, the intermediate parts consist of the

inferior floor roof and the floor of the superior, which is then denominated to the last
floor. Concrete and steel roofs are done horizontally and are destined to carry weight by
flexion and at the same time put their weight on the walls or beams.
There are two types of concrete and steel.
Those that are unidirectional and bi-directional.

Unidirectional is forged concrete and steel which is formed by beams of

different types of materials such as wood, metal etc, and these transmit all the own
weight of the concrete and steel and the over load to the support beams or walls.

The bi-directional concrete and steel is made out several elements, in between
which the curved roofs and blocks of lighter cement are placed, in a way so that the
weight is transmitted through the iron elements to the top of the pillars.
The pillars. The pillars of a building are used to substitute the walls in the transmission
of the load of the concrete and steel ceiling. The pillars absorb the weight of the support
beams and transmit the vertical ones to the foundation.
The foundation. The foundation is the inferior or bottom part of a building that
penetrates the terrain it is on; this carries the weight of the building and supports it. The
type of foundation a construction has depends on the characteristics of the ground and
of the type of building it will be. We must take into account on the other hand, that the
cracks in structural elements, like the pillars and support beams, on n the horizontal
components are really troublesome when the direction of these is perpendicular or
diagonal to the structural element, no matter where the building is. A vertical overload
(caused by debris for example) over the structural vertical elements can cause
horizontal flexion. It can cause the pillars to sag and cause damage to the support walls.
If this overweight happens over horizontal elements, it will cause a deflection of the
beams, which can at the same time cause the collapsing, leaning or sagging of the
vertical elements that are holding it up. There are certain things that a building will do
sometimes to let us know that it is going to fall such as with creaks, rustles that would
suggest that the materials of the building are cracking and sliding inside the existing

Beams and lintels

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.