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Different types of beams are used in construction of building and structures. These are horizontal structural element that withstand vertical loads, shear forces and bending moments. Beams transfer loads imposed along their length to their end points to walls, columns, foundations, etc.

In this article, different types of beams used in building construction will be discussed based on their manner of support, cross-section shape (profile), length, and their material.

Types of Beams in Constructions

There are different types of beams which are classified based on the following conditions

  1. Based on Support Conditions
  2. Based on Construction Materials
  3. Based on Cross-Section Shapes
  4. Based on Geometry
  5. Based on Equilibrium Condition
  6. Based on Method of Construction
  7. Others

Based on Support Conditions

1. Simply Supported Beam

It is the one of the simplest structural elements that both ends are rest on supports but are free to rotate. It contains pinned support at one end and roller support at the other end. On the basis of assign load, it sustains shearing and bending.

Simply supported beam

Fig. 1: Simply supported beam

2. Fixed Beam

It is supported at both ends and fixed to resist rotation. It is also called a built-in beam. The fixed ends produce fixing moments other than the reactions.

Fixed beam

Fig. 2: Fixed beam

3. Cantilever Beam

If a beam is fixed at one end and set to be free at the end, it is termed as cantilever beam. The beam distribute the load back to the support where it is forced against with a moment and shear stress. Cantilever beams allow the creation of a bay window, balconies, and some bridges.

Cantilever beam

Fig. 3: Cantilever beam

4. Continuous Beam

A continuous beam has more than two supports distributed along its entire length.

Continuous beam

Fig. 4: Continuous beam

Based on Construction Materials

5. Reinforced Concrete Beams 

It is constructed from concrete and reinforcement as shown in Fig. 5.

Reinforced concrete beam

Fig. 5: Reinforced concrete beam

6. Steel Beams 

It is constructed from steels and used in several applications.

Steel beam

Fig. 6: Steel beam

7. Timber beams

This type of beam is constructed from timber and used in the past, but its application is significantly declined now.

Timber Beam

Fig. 7: Timber Beam

8. Composite Beams 

Composite beams are constructed from two or more different types of materials such as steel and concrete, and various valid cross sections have been utilized as shown in fig.8.

Composite beam

Fig. 8: Composite beam

Based on Cross-Section Shapes

Several cross sectional shapes of beams are available and used in different parts of of structures. These beams can be constructed from reinforced concrete, steel, or composite materials:

Reinforced concrete cross sectional shapes include:

9. Rectangular beam 

This type of beam is widely used in the construction of reinforced concrete buildings and other structures.

Rectangular Reinforced concrete beam

Fig. 9: Rectangular Reinforced concrete beam

10. T-section beam

This type of beam is mostly constructed monolithically with reinforced concrete slab. Sometimes, Isolated T-beam are constructed to increase the compression strength of concrete.

Added to that, inverted T-beam can also be constructed according to the requirements of loading imposed.

T-beam

Fig. 10: T-beam

Inverted T-beam

Fig. 11: Inverted T-beam

11. L-section beam 

This type of beam is constructed monolithically with reinforced concrete slab at the perimeter of the structure, as illustrated in Fig. 10.

Steel cross sectional shapes include:

There are various steel beam cross sectional shapes. Each cross sectional shape offer superior advantages in a given conditions compare with other shapes.

Square, rectangular, circular, I-shaped, T-shaped, H-shaped,C-shaped, and tubular are examples of beam cross sectional shapes constructed from steel.

Steel beam cross sectional shapes

Fig. 12: Steel beam cross sectional shapes

Different types of beams based on cross sectional shapes constructed from composite materials are shown in Fig. 8.

Based on Geometry

12. Straight beam

Beam with straight profile and majority of beams in structures are straight beams.

straight beam

Fig. 13: straight beam

13. Curved beam

Beam with curved profile, such as in the case of circular buildings.

Curved beam

Fig. 14: Curved beam

14. Tapered beam

Beam with tapered cross section.

Tapered beam

Fig. 15: Tapered beam

5. Based on Equilibrium Condition

15. Statically determinate beam

For a statically determinate beam, equilibrium conditions alone can be used to solve reactions, i.e the number of unknown reactions are equal to the the number of equations.

Statically determinate beam

Fig. 16: Statically determinate beam

16. Statically indeterminate beam

For a statically indeterminate beam, equilibrium conditions are not enough to solve reactions. So, the analysis of this type of beam is more complicated than that of statically determinate beams.

statically indeterminate beam

Fig. 17: statically indeterminate beam

Based on Method of Construction

17. Cast In-situ Concrete Beam 

This type of beam is constructed on project site. so, forms are initially fixed then fresh concrete is poured and allowed to be hardened. Then, loads will be imposed.

Cast in situ beam

Fig. 18: Cast in situ beam

18. Precast Concrete Beam

This type of beam is manufactured in factories. So, the construction condition is more controllable compare with on-site construction. Consequently, the quality of concrete of the beam will be greater. Various cross sectional shapes can be manufactures such as T- beam, Double T-beam, Inverted T-beam and many more.

Precast concrete beam

Fig. 19: Precast concrete beam

19. Prestressed Concrete Beam

This type of beam constructed by stressing strands prior to applying loads on the beam. Pre-tensioned Concrete beam and post-tensioned Concrete Beam are variations of pre-stressed concrete beam.

Prestressed concrete beam

Fig. 20: Prestressed concrete beam

Others 

20. Deep Beam 

beams that have large depths, and its clear span to depth ratio is less than 4 according to ACI Code. Significant amount of the load is carried to the supports by a compression force combining the load and the reaction. Consequently, the strain distribution is no longer considered linear as in the case of conventional beams.

Deep beam

Fig. 21: Deep beam

21. Girder

Beams that take heavy loads, generally steel sections are used.

Girder

Fig. 22: Girder

About Madeh Izat HamakareemVerified

Madeh is a Structural Engineer who works as Assistant Lecturer in Koya University. He is the author, editor and partner at theconstructor.org.