What are Beams and Columns in Structural Engineering?

Oct 24, 2022 | Structural services | 0 comments

When thinking of our perfect home, we imagine where we’d like the bedrooms and bathrooms to be located, how big the kitchen should be, and even how many windows we’d like; however, what we don’t imagine or even think about is how our home will be structurally stable. How will our home stand without the foundation failing over time?

Luckily, that is what structural engineers are for. Structural engineers must consider many things when making your dream structure come true. One of the most important things they consider is where the beams and columns will be placed to ensure the long-term success of your property.

What are Beams and Columns?

Beams and columns are 2 key elements that are meant to support the buildings weight. These 2 elements are meant to make sure that all the weight is distributed evenly throughout the foundation and all the way down to the ground. Without proper placement and calculations of beams and columns, buildings will begin to slant, and overtime they will fail and collapse.

What are Beams?

Beams are horizontal elements meant to transfer weight from one load bearing wall to another. They are strategically placed to support the horizontal structures of a property like the floors, ceilings, and roofs. They transfer weight evenly onto the vertical columns or walls beneath those structures. The design or sizing of beams requires a structural engineer because they understand basic physics and engineering statistics. Structural engineers check the loads acting on a beam. They know how to calculate the stresses that the structure will be exposed to and choose the best material, size, and shape that the beam should be for a specific design.


What are Columns?

Columns are vertical elements meant to transfer weight from the support beams, ceiling, or upper floors to the foundation of the structure. They must be strong enough to carry the accumulative weight of the floors above it. For better support, columns are usually designed in the same place on all floors. Just like with beams, structural engineers decide the appropriate design of columns depending on basic physics and engineering statistics. They calculate the weight that will be placed upon the columns to design a structure that will be long lasting and structurally stable.

Beam and Column Replacement

Replacement or maintenance of rotting or damaged beams or columns in your property is essential in keeping the structural integrity of the building. If any of these key elements are not doing their job, you are risking severe structural issues after some time which can be very costly to repair.

Some signs that something may be wrong with your beams or columns are sagging or slanted floors, cracks on walls, doors or windows that are not opening or closing correctly, or squeaky floors. Other signs to look out for are rotting columns, specially at the bottom, or cracks on columns. All of these can be signs that your homes support system is failing. Having a professional engineer evaluate the property as soon as you notice these signs will benefit you greatly.

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