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Types of Lintel

You may be wondering what types of lintel are available. But let’s first start with what is lintel is. A lintel is simply a horizontal beam made from a strong material such as concrete or steel, which spans between two walls.  They are normally used above window and door openings to support the heavy load of the floor above.  In general, window and door openings are a vulnerable part of a buildings structure, which is why lintels are needed.  Lintels are the same width of a house brick wall, and come in a variety of lengths and materials. Below are the most common types of lintel available.  The lintel required for a project depends upon application, building regulations and budget.  The most common types of household lintels in the UK are timber and steel.

Timber Lintels

Timber lintels are very popular in older homes. However, they are rarely used in modern homes, unless the property is designed to have an older style look.

Timer Lintel Advantages:

  • Cheap.
  • Easily available.
  • Length are easy to adjust, becuase wood is easy to cut.
  • Ideal for small openings.

Timber Lintel Disadvantages: 

  • Only for low loads.
  • Not suitable for large openings.
  • Is not fire resistant.
  • Requires adequate ventilation and treatment to help prevent rot.

Steel Lintels

Typically made from galvanised steel.  They usually come in a form of a channel or Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ). Their main advantage over other types of lintel is their strength to weight ratio. For example, steel can support more of a load per kg then concrete.    

Steel Lintel Advantages:

  • Steel is very strong.
  • Very light compared to other lintels, such as concrete.
  • Easy to install compared to its lighter weight.

Steel Lintel Disadvantages:

  • More expensive then other lintels such as timber and reionforced concrete.
  • Has the potential to corrode under certain conditions.

Reinforced Concrete Lintels

These are one of the most common lintels used in the UK.  They consist of a concrete structure that is reinforced with steel bars.  This gives you a material that has the compressive strength of concrete, and also the tensile strength of steel.    They have excellent strength and durability, and can cover therefore large spans. In some situations, these types of lintels can be cast on site.

Reinforced Concrete Lintel Advantages:

  • Very rigid.
  • Strong.
  • Durable.
  • Fire resistant.
  • Can be made to any size or shape.
  • Excellent for heavy loads.
  • Good for large spans.
  • Low cost.
  • Easy to install.

Reinforced Concrete Lintel Disadvantages:

  • Very heavy compared to steel lintels.

Forces on a Lintel

A lintel is almost always used to span across an opening to support a load above it.  The main forces that any lintel will experience is compression and tension.  This is because the load above is pushing down onto your lintel trying to bend it.  As your lintel slightly bends from the load it will experience a stretch at the bottom, and compression at the top.  The lintel you choose must be strong regarding tension and compressive stress.

Places to Buy Lintels

Buildbase is a building and timber supplier in the UK, popular amongst tradesmen. They sell a wide range of lintels.


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Posted on 21st February 2021 at 3:50 pm

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