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All about Lintels
A lintel is a horizontal structure that is designed to support loads above any opening in the wall. It is mainly placed between two vertical supports. A lintel could be used as a decorative and architectural element, it is a combination of structural and ornamental utility. Often lintels are termed as beams or blocks. These blocks are packed together and suspended to give rise to a concrete slab, for example.
Why Lintels are Important?
Lintels are a necessity to every structure. As renovation or construction of a space is planned, lintels must be taken into account. If modifications done over time weaken the structure, lintels act as a supporting pillar to help the structure remain in place. Lintels are very significant as they provide structural integrity to a building. These load bearing structures need not be necessarily constructed from metal or stone. They can be made from any material. They not only function as weight bearing objects but their absence could cause progressive damage to any construction in the long run.
Lintels can be made of steel, stone, timber, brick, reinforced brick and reinforced concrete. The choice of the lintel depends on its usage. If the superimposed load is heavier, steel lintels are generally preferred. In places where stone is found in abundance, it is the stone lintel that is preferred and used. Stone lintels are costly and less able to carry heavy loads however. Reinforced brick and concrete lintels are used widely. These provide maximum durability and strength. They are designed to accommodate very heavy loads and are cost effective.
Repair or maintenance of lintels is very much essential in certain conditions. While evaluating any crack above a door or window to find the source, it is essential to look for evidence whether the lintel is cracked or blown out. Most of the time, the maintenance of a lintel becomes necessary because of a defect or corrosion of steel. Identifying lintel cracks is easier. As the lintel fails, vertical cracks appear in the building around the lintel. Lintels can be repaired by masons and can be stabilised. Lintel replacement is another option with successful results. It includes removing the bricks that are placed just above the lintel. A replaced lintel should be galvanized to avoid rust, followed by adequate flashing. At the final stages, the bricks are reinstalled with adequate weep holes, allowing the moisture to escape out and preserving the strengthening characteristic of the lintel.
To conclude, there are many types of lintels with different kinds of applications and knowing each of these is crucial before selecting the right lintel.