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Different types of beams are used in the construction of buildings and structures. These are horizontal structural elements that withstand vertical loads, shear forces, and bending moments. Beams transfer loads that imposed along their length to their endpoints such as 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 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 one of the simplest structural elements that both ends rest on supports but is free to rotate. It contains pinned support at one end and a roller support at the other end. Based on the assigned 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 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 other end, it is termed as a cantilever beam. The beam distributes the load back to the support where it is forced against 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. Sometimes reinforced concrete beam is concealed in reinforced concrete slabs and it is called hidden beam or concealed beam

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

The timber beam is constructed from timber and used in the past. However, The application of such a beam in the construction industry 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. Fig. 8 shows Different valid cross-sections for the composite beam.

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 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 a reinforced concrete slab. Sometimes, Isolated T-beam is built 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 a 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 condition 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

Fig. 8 shows different types of beams based on cross-sectional shapes constructed from composite materials.

Based on Geometry

12. Straight beam

Beam with a straight profile and the 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. The number of unknown reactions is equal to 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 the project site. So, forms are initially fixed, then fresh concrete is poured and allowed to hardened. Then, loads would 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 the concrete of the beam would 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

The pre-stressed concrete beam is constructed by stressing strands before applying loads on the beam. Pre-tensioned concrete beam and post-tensioned concrete beams are variations of pre-stressed concrete beam.

Prestressed concrete beam
Fig. 20: Prestressed concrete beam

Others 

20. Deep Beam 

A deep beam has considerable depth, as shown in Fig. 21, and its clear span to depth ratio is less than four, as per ACI Code. A substantial 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

FAQs on different types of beams in constructions

?What are beams in construction?

Beams are horizontal structural elements that withstand vertical loads, shear forces, and bending moments. They transfer loads that imposed along their length to their endpoints such as walls, columns, foundations, etc.

?What are cast in-situ or RCC beams?

The RCC beams are constructed from concrete and reinforcement bars. They resist vertical loads, shear forces, and bending moments.

?What is a continuous beam?

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

?What are the types of support conditions in beams?

1. Roller
2. Pinned
3. Fixed

?What are the types of beams based on support conditions?

1. Simply supported beam
2. Fixed beam
3. Cantilever beam
4. Continuous beam

Madeh Izat Hamakareem

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