The beam is a horizontal member used in any structure to transfer the load to the column or the wall.

Function of Beam

The primary purpose of the beam is to resist the external load applied to it and distribute it to the foundation through the column. The horizontal beam carries an only transverse load, and the sloping beams carry both transverse and axial load.

Typical Beam

The cross-sectional dimensions are generally designed based on the requirements, and the width is fixed depending upon the wall thickness. The depth of the beam will be designed to resist the deflections within the safe permissible limits. 

The main difference between beam and column is the beam resists the transverse load, and the column transfers the compression load to the foundation.

Types of Beams in Construction

Based on the design requirements, there are many types of beams in construction. It can be classified. 

  1. Based on Loads & Supports 
  2. Based on Geometry
  3. Based on Shape of Cross Section
  4. Based on Equilibrium Conditions
  5. Based on Material
  6. Based on Construction Methods

Based on Loads & Supports

  • Simply supported beam
  • Fixed beam
  • Overhanging beam
  • Double overhanging beam 
  • Continuous beam 
  • Cantilever beam
  • Trussed beam

Simply Supported Beam – It is the simplest beam type in structure. It contains one end roller support, and another end provides pinned support. So the simple beam contains support at both ends, but it is free to rotate.

simply supported beam e1590992504807

Fixed Beam – The beam has support at both ends, and it resists the rotation. Both ends of the beam resits on either wall or column.

Fixed Beam

Overhanging Beam – When the beam end extends beyond the support, it is called an overhanging beam.

Overhanging beam

Double  Overhanging Beam – When both ends of the beam extend beyond the support is called a double overhanging beam.

Double Overhanging Beam

Continuous Beam – The continuous beams are commonly used in multi-story buildings of several bays in perpendicular directions.

Continuous Beam

This type of beam has more than two supports. One end of the beam is fixed, and the other one will continue. 

Cantilever Beam – The cantilever beam is fixed at one end, and the other end is free from the support.

Cantilever Beam

The cantilever beams are generally used to support the canopy or sunshade of a larger building span. The cantilever beams are designed for the maximum moments, and shear forces developed at the support section, usually a reinforced concrete column.

Trussed Beam – Beam reinforced by truss rods or cambered pieces joined together is known as a trussed beam.

Trussed Beam

Based on Geometry

Straight Beam – Typical beam that you see in the construction site. Supported at two ends and carries bending moment and shear force.

Curved Beam – Curved beam supported at two ends and carries bending moment, shear force and torsional force.

Curved Beam

Tapered Beam – As shown in the picture, It is a straight beam. But the cross-section of one side will be bigger than the other. It is more like an I-Beam.

Tapered Beam

Based on Shape Of Cross Section

Rectangular Beam – Rectangular beams carry tension at the bottom and compression at the top. 

Their cross-section characterizes the following beams. They are mostly used in the structural steel construction industry, as industrial buildings


I Beam


T Beam


C Beam

L Beam – The edge beams which are cast monolithically with slabs on one side of the rib only are designated as L- beams. The torsional & hogging bending moments are maximum at the support sections.

L Beam

Based on Equilibrium Conditions

  • Statically determinate beam
  • Statically indeterminate beam 

If the forces acting on a beam can be determined by the equilibrium equations alone, it is known as a statically determinate beam. If not, then it is statically indeterminate.

Example of Statically determinate structures – simply supported beam, overhanging beams

Example of Statically indeterminate structures – continuous beam, U beams, fixed beans

Based on Material

  • Timber beam

Timber Beam

  • Steel beam

Steel Beam

  • Reinforced Concrete Beam

Typical Beam

  •  Composite beam – A horizontal structural element, with a combination of Steel Section & concrete, is called an Encased or Composite beam. The composite beam mostly provided for the truss structure to avoid the steel corroded by the chemical attack.

Based on Construction Methods

  • Cast In-situ Concrete Beam – Cast In-situ means pouring concrete after placing the molds (slab, beam formwork, and reinforcement) correctly. It is opposite to the precast. 
  • Precast Concrete Beam – As the name suggests, precast concrete beams are mould somewhere else and then lifted and placed with the use of lifting machinery.
  • Prestressed Concrete Beam – In a prestressed concrete beam, the beam will be provided with some precompression on the concrete by tensioned steel wires or cables. So that it won’t develop minor cracks after placing.
  • Lintel BeamIt is another type of beam, the lintel beam provided for openings like windows or doors.

Lintel Beam

Must Read: Standard size of lintel


Bala is a Planning Engineer & he is the author and editor of Civil Planets.


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