Lintels Used in the Building Construction

A lintel is a horizontal structural member spanning an opening to support the load of the structure coming, over it. It is used to span the openings for doors, windows corridors, etc. Its junction is similar to that of an arch. As the construction of lintels is much simpler than the construction of arches it is becoming more popular these days.

The following type of lintels are commonly used in building construction:

1. Wooden lintels 
2. Brick lintel
3. Stone lintel.
4. Steel lintel.
5. Reinforced cement concrete lintel.


1. Wooden Lintels in Building construction: Wooden lintels are the oldest type of lintels and nowadays, also they are used in hilly areas where timber is cheaply available. The sound and hard timber-like teak are used to span over the opening and masonry are constructed over it. As the timber is easily liable to catch fire, only good quality timber with a coat of suitable preservative should be used as lintels. One piece of timber or a built-up section may be used to serve as a lintel. The ends of the lintels rest on a mortar base on the walls for a minimum width of 15 cm. Wooden lintels are not very strong and hence a relieving masonry arch is constructed over it when the load coming over it is considerably more. If it is used in ill-ventilated places it is liable to decay.

2. Brick Lintel in Building construction: Brick lintel is used for small openings, generally not exceeding a 1-meter span, and light loads. They are built up with hard well burnt, copper-colored, free from cracks, and with sharp and straight-edged bricks. The depth of the Brick lintel varies from 10 cm to 20 cm depending upon the span. A centering or temporary support is required to construct a brick lintel.

When brick lintels are constructed to span over a large opening, mild steel reinforcing bars are used with rich cement mortar. It is known as a reinforced brick lintel.

3. Stone Lintels in Building construction: Stone lintels in House Construction are used in stone masonry structures or buildings faced with stones. It may be constructed of a single piece or more than one piece. Its use is restricted to some monumental buildings or in hilly areas: Stone lintels have high cost and weak in withstanding excessive transverse stresses. The least thickness of the stone lintel is about 7.5 cm. Thickness is taken as at least 1 mm per one cm length of the opening as a thumb rule.

4. Steel Lintels in Building construction: Steel angles are used for spanning small openings and rolled steel joints are used for heavy loading and large spans. Sometimes a combination of two or more joists is used. Tube separators are used to keep the RS Joist in the required positions. The system may be embedded in cement concrete to protect steel from fire and corrosion.

5. Reinforced Cement Concrete Lintels in Building construction: They are economical and simple in construction and are commonly used these days almost in all hone building. RCC lintels are more durable, strong, and fire-resistant. It consists of a rectangular or square concrete section reinforced with mild steel bars. It can be pre-cast or cast-in-situ. Pre-cast RCC lintels are preferred for small spans up to about 2 meters. Pre-cast lintels increase the speed of the construction and quality control is better in this case. The top of the recast lintels should be marked by paint to facilitate the placing of the lintels in the correct position. For cast-in-situ lintels, a centering is erected; the reinforcement is placed and then concrete is poured, compacted, and cured. Generally, 1: 2:4 concrete is used in the construction of lintels. The depth of lintel and the amount of the reinforcement is governed by the intensity of load, the type of support, and the span.


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