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What Is The Difference Between Girders And Beams

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  • 02-09-2022
What Is The Difference Between Girders And Beams

This article asks: What is the difference between girders and beams? Find out why you should know the different capacities and functions of steel girders and beams when planning a construction project. 

What Is The Difference Between Girders & Beams?

Girders and beams essentially have the exact same function, so some people assume that a girder is simply another name for a beam. However, this is not entirely true. In the same way that all thumbs are a type of finger, but not all fingers are a type of thumb, all girders are beams, but not every beam is a girder.

Girders are a variety of beams that have the capacity to support very large loads, this includes other beams. Girders have some very important differences that are vital for understanding fabrication and welding.

A Basic Distinction Between Girders & Beams

Beams are the main part of the structural framing system that will carry the weight and load. Beams are designed to bend in order to redistribute and resist the structure's load. On the other hand, girders are much more rigid support beams.

They are purposely designed in order to support the other beams and to provide the primary horizontal support for the structure in question. The girder was created in order to support major comprehensive loads, this includes bean responses and structural pillars.

The general rule for telling the difference between the two construction elements is to look at the other beams. If it is there in order to support the other beams and carry a load-bearing weight, then you're looking at a girder.  

A Deeper Look at Steel Beams

A beam is a variety of construction component. They play are vital role in all structural steel frames. Beams are designed for being able to support dispersed loads such as roof structures. The main goal of a beam within a structure is to keep it stable, sturdy, and strong. Beams are the ideal fit for all basic structural frameworks.

Visually, the majority of beams that you will see will be tall, sleek, and narrow. Beams can be categorised in various different ways, this will depend on exactly what the build requires.

Beams can be categorised by the types of support that they offer:

Simple support





They can also be categorised by their geometrical design properties:




Or, beams can be categorised by their connection type:

C - Beams

T - Beams

I - Beams

When referring to girders, what is usually being referenced are metallic beams which are constructed in the form of box girders or I-beams. There is no industry-wide official size for what makes a beam different from a girder, but commonly, girders are shorter and sturdier than beams, and that is for a very good reason.

What are Girders Used For?

Girders are the primary supports for large structures and are used for supporting the smaller beams. Girders are designed to be the structure's main support, and this means they have a much bigger load-bearing capacity.

Girders are capable of carrying dynamic and rolling loads.Girders are put to work in very large structures, for example, trusses, road flyovers, and bridges.

A girder is a primary beam, and it is capable of taking the majority of the load-bearing role in whichever structure it is used within. The girder is used to support the load of all the structure's beams, which then transfer the load to the vertical supports and columns below.

Difference between Beam & Girder

Beams are horizontal construction components, and they are one of the most commonly used elements in the construction field.

This type of construction element is designed in order to carry distributed loads, for example, tributary areas of the floor and roof systems, or parallel walls.

Beams are structural elements that are capable of holding up against huge loads simply by bending, this is exactly why they are used for support in almost all construction projects. A beam that is designed to support the other beams is usually referred to as a girder; however, this doesn't mean that it is not still a beam.

Girders are used for supporting smaller beams, and they will commonly act as the main horizontal support for structures. They are designed to be able to support large concentrated loads, for example, the weight of columns or beam reactions.

The major difference between the common girder and the common bean is the size of the component. Beams will often be referred to as girders in the world of construction, and girders are the primary horizontal support structure used for smaller beams.

We say this to emphasise that all girders are beams, but not every beam is a type of girder. Both construction elements are bending members that can be distinguished mainly through the way that they are loaded. If it is the primary structural support that consists of smaller beams, then it is a girder.

However, there are no industry rules regarding the dimensions of what makes a beam different from a girder.

In the field of engineering, beams are classified into a variety of different types that are based on different factors. When it comes to the type of support that is offered by the beam, they are classified into: continuous, fixed, simple support, trussed, and cantilever.

Beams can also be classified into their different geometries, such as tapered beam, curved beam, and straight beam. If you are discussing their cross-section shape, then beams can be divided into C-beam, T-beam, and I-beam. A girder is commonly described as a steel beam.

When constructing bridges, the most common type of construction element used is I-beam girders. Elevated bridges and roadway flyovers have box girders used constantly in construction.

Girders and beams are both horizontal members created in order to support structures by their deflecting factor, bending. Beams are used for supporting the structural integrity of buildings, they are used in examples such as residential structures.

In these structures, beams will be found in the walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, and decks. Beams are used in these structures due to their amazing load-bearing capabilities against every condition. Girders are used mainly for supporting smaller beams and are typically used in very large structures. 

Are you looking for RSJ steel beam suppliers in London, Kent, Essex and the surrounding areas? Follow the link below to discuss your project.