Be they original, customised, exposed or concealed, beams keep your house from falling down. You can have solid foundations and sturdy walls, but beams are the elements that provide support and structure to your property.
BEAM THERE, DONE THAT…
A beam is a horizontal or vertical length of wood, metal or concrete. It can also be a reinforced combination of those materials. Whatever its function (lintel, joist, girder or cantilever) or its shape (rectangular, flanged or ‘I’), a beam will carry a load, or several loads. Some beams bear the weight and movement of ceilings and floors, others carry the weight and pressure of a stone or brick wall. Inaccurate beam design or a ‘minor’ error in installation leads to structural instability. As a result, it could cost you thousands to put it right.
CALCULATING THE CORRECT BEAM FOR YOUR PROJECT
A project that involves alterations to the structure of your property, such as a two-storey extension, or loft conversion, will require the installation of one or more steel beams which should be designed by a structural engineer to ensure building regulations approval. Similarly, an experienced engineer should be appointed to design lintels – beams that are placed above an opening such as a doorway. Here, the horizontal beam will take weight coming from the wall above it and transfer that weight to the walls on either side of the opening. Online beam calculators do not provide the precision and other relevant factors that Laytoe’s structural engineers are able to assess during a site survey.
We take it for granted that a beam will provide strength and structure to a building, but even the most rigid of beams will have a bending moment or several bending moments. This doesn’t mean that your new beam is eventually going to warp or crack: what it does mean is that you need a Laytoe structural engineer to calculate the bending moment and design the correct beam for your project.
MOMENT OR MOVEMENT?
Definitely moment, not movement. The bending moment is when external force is applied to any structural element, but usually to beams. You can be forgiven for worrying that multiple bending moments might occur when, for example, you drag a heavy wardrobe across a bedroom floor. Surely all of that heavy movement will impact on all the beams you lug your wardrobe over… Rest assured, our structural engineers will account for furniture and other dead load when they design each beam’s shape. So you can reconfigure the furniture in your rooms without worrying about the floor collapsing.