What Is a Lintel? Definition and FAQs

What is Lintel Beam

Where are lintels used?

In primarily brick and masonry structures, lintels support the weight of structures above wall openings, doorways, and windows. Walls with gaps between them frequently lack structural integrity because there is nothing to support the load resting on top of the opening above. Lintel beams extend past either side of the doorway or opening to help prevent this. To evenly distribute the weight of the materials on top of the open area, contractors install them into the wall.

What is a lintel?

A lintel in construction is a beam positioned across the top of a wall opening. Lintels are used above open areas in buildings, such as entrances and windows, to support the weight of the structures above them. Typically, the beams match the width of the wall, extend past either end of the opening, and fit seamlessly into the wall. Lintels are made from a variety of materials depending on the structure’s support requirements, the contractor’s preference, and the building’s aesthetic. They are most commonly used in brick and masonry structures. Lintels, which resemble arches but are flat and simpler to install, can be a crucial structural component of a building.

Types of lintels

Many types of lintels aid in building construction. Here is a list of common lintel material types:


Wooden or timber lintels are still frequently used in the construction of mountain homes because they are both aesthetically pleasing and supportive. However, as more readily available substitute materials with increased durability have gained popularity, timber lintels have lost some of their appeal. Despite being attractive, wood can be more prone to fire and less resilient than other popular lintel materials.

Contractors occasionally use steel bolts to join several pieces of wood and accommodate an opening that is exceptionally wide or long. Another popular method for adding reinforcement is to use steel plates on the top and bottom of the wood or flinched lintels.


Due to its abundance, stone can be a very popular lintel building material. Stone lintel blocks are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and don’t rust like steel does. However, they are not always the strongest option for structures because of their susceptibility to cracking and their poor resistance to vibratory loads like those brought on by earthquakes. Stone lintels, when used with masonry or stone constructions, can create an appealing and unified appearance.


When openings are large and the structural loads are heavy, steel can be an incredibly useful building material. Steel supports may function alone or in conjunction with other steel pieces, depending on the needs of the building. Steel pieces may occasionally be embedded directly into the wall or sometimes face the stone. Tube separators could help hold the position of multiple pieces of steel. Although steel is incredibly strong and can provide structural integrity for even the largest wall openings, it can occasionally be susceptible to rust.

Brick and reinforced brick

When the load is light, brick lintels can be a good building material to use. The end joints of bricks made for this purpose frequently have frog-shaped indentations that can help prevent shearing. Some refer to this method as a joggled brick lintel.

Bricks alone might not meet the requirements for the project’s needs if the load is heavy or the opening is longer than a meter. In these instances, steel bars can help reinforce the bricks. The steel rods are inserted into every third vertical joint, along the bottom of the lintel, and in the spaces of two to three centimeters between adjacent bricks to give the bricks additional structural support and raise their carrying capacity.

Reinforced cement concrete

Because of their rigidity, load bearing capacity, strength, fire resistance, affordability, and ease of use, reinforced cement concrete lintels are a popular option. The concrete lintels are strengthened by bars along the bottom and sheer stirrups. Concrete boot lintels can be an attractive and affordable option when installed over cavity walls.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about lintels:

Whats the difference between a lintel, a header and an arch?

Lintels, which are frequently found in masonry or brick buildings, give stone constructions structural support. In contrast, headers are more typical of wooden structures. Building arches that curve over an entrance, window, or other opening is frequently more difficult.

How are lintels maintained?

Lintel maintenance often depends on the type of material used. For example, steel lintels can be prone to rust. During construction, installing flashing could help prevent rust and other environmental dangers. A lintel may require re-coating and the rust removed before being painted if you notice rust developing along its surface.

Proper drainage can be essential to preserving the integrity of the lintels for both steel and stone. Despite the fact that stone won’t rust, it can still show signs of water damage such as deterioration, fissures, and cracks. Try to avoid having water collect around the lintel to avoid this.

What are signs of lintel failure?

Steel lintels may be prone to pitting, which means the rust may cause the metal to corrode. Pitted steel can lead to the failure of lintels, posing risks to both construction and safety. You might notice cracks in the window if the lintel is above one to indicate that the window is bearing some of the structural weight rather than the beam. Cracks around the mortar joints and depressions along the opening are possible additional warning signs above windows and doors.

Additionally, failed stone lintels may have cracks in the stone’s mortar or on its surface. When a lintel fails, its important to replace it. However, full replacements can be difficult and expensive. For this reason, look for weak spots before a lintel fails completely.

Can lintels have non-structural uses?

Lintels arent only for structural purposes. For centuries, lintels have been used as decorative elements by numerous cultures, who carved elaborate designs into the stone and placed them atop stone pillars and other materials.


What is the purpose of the lintel?

Lintels are horizontal structural supports that span openings in walls or the space between two vertical supports. It is frequently used over windows and doors, two areas of a building’s structure that are particularly vulnerable. Although lintels typically serve load-bearing functions, they can also serve as decorative elements.

What is a lintel in building construction?

The beam transfers the load from the slab to the column, where it is then transferred to the footing, and finally to the soil from the footing. Whereas the lintel transfers the weight of the wall above the openings to the walls only.

What is a lintel on a door?

A lintel is a beam that is typically positioned above windows and doors, to put it simply. The primary function of the lintel is to support the weight of the structure above it. Doors and windows cannot be built to structurally withstand heavy loads on their own. Lintels are mainly found in masonry or brick structures.

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