Beams and columns in construction

Beams and Columns in Construction

Beams and columns in construction are two types of structural components that play a vital role in transferring the weight and pressures on a structure to the foundations and into the earth in a safe manner. Although beams and columns in construction are made of the same forms and materials, they serve distinct purposes and are constructed differently.

What is the difference between “Pillars”, “Beams” and “Braces”?

If you’re remodeling a house, you want to learn the minimum basics of building a house. Of particular importance is knowledge of the components that form the foundation of a house.

So, this time, let’s learn about the “pillars/columns,” “beams,” and “braces,” which form the basic structure of a house.

Know the difference:

Before looking at each in detail, let’s check the rough differences between “pillars”, “beams”, and “braces”.

  • What is a pillar?

Pillars or Columns are structures that support floors, walls, roofs, etc. by erecting building materials vertically from the base.

  • What is a beam?

A structural part that is passed sideways to a pillar that stands vertically. Bypassing it between the pillars, the pillars are fixed and the roof is supported.

  • What is a brace?

A brace is a part that is passed diagonally between columns. You can reinforce the building by installing braces.

Now that you understand the general differences between them, let’s first look at the “pillars or Columns”.

“Pillars / Columns” that stand and support the building:

It is no exaggeration to say that the pillars are one of the most important components in the building structure because they are the parts that support the building by standing vertically.

The material used for the Beams and columns in construction differs depending on the structure of the building. For example, if it is made of wood, wooden pillars are used. In addition, reinforced concrete columns are used in reinforced-concrete construction (RC construction) and steel-framed reinforced concrete construction (SRC construction), which are used in many condominiums.

If there are many pillars, the room will be small and the layout will be limited. Therefore, a construction method has been devised to reduce the number of pillars while maintaining the strength of the building.

“Beams” that support the building by lying down:

Pillars are an important part of a building, but just standing them up is still unstable. The reason why the building does not break even in the event of an earthquake or strong wind is that the beams are passed between the columns.

Beams are roughly divided into “large beams” that are passed sideways between columns and “small beams” that are passed sideways between columns and are not directly connected to the columns.

In the case of condominiums, beams play a major role, especially in supporting the weight of the floor itself on the upper floors and the weight of people and furniture. If the floor is just on the pillar, the floor where the weight is concentrated will come off. Bypassing through the girder, the weight of the floor can be transmitted to the pillars and the entire floor can be supported.

However, this alone will concentrate the load on the girder, so the girders will be installed so that the weight is transmitted more evenly.

Beams are named according to the part used, and typical ones are floor beams that support floorboards and hut beams that support roofs on the top floors of single-family homes.

Beam Types:

Beams are called differently depending on their material (building structure), role, and support conditions. Here is a complete explanation in detail.

There are three types of beam materials: wooden, steel, and RC (reinforced concrete). Each has different uses and depends on the size and design of the building. We will introduce the uses and advantages/disadvantages of each material.

  • Wooden Beam:

In recent years, wooden structures have been used not only in houses and small stores, but also in large-scale facilities such as public facilities. The beams used for wooden construction are often coniferous trees such as Douglas-fir, Sugi, and Larch.

In old-fashioned private houses, there are cases where the shape of a large log is used as a beam by craftsmanship. Ingenuity can be seen, such as making the expression of the building feel richer by fascinating the beauty of the shape without hiding the beams with the ceiling.

  • Steel Beam:

Those with large column spans (intervals) need to be equipped with strong beams to support their vertical loads. Therefore, steel frames are often used in large-scale structures and stations.

Most steel beams use H-shaped steel, which has an H-shaped cross-section. The reason why the H-shape is adopted is that iron is more expensive than other materials, so the parts other than the minimum necessary parts to support the vertical force are cut.

  • RC Beam:

RC is an abbreviation for Reinforced Concrete and refers to concrete reinforced by reinforcing bars. It’s so-called reinforced concrete. It is used in big constructions that require strong strength, such as buildings, condominiums, and airports.

Concrete is vulnerable to pulling forces and can cause cracks. The lower end of the beam is the part that is pulled to the left and right when a load is applied. In order to make up for the weak part, a structure called RC is made by putting reinforcing bars that are strong against pulling force into concrete.

“Braces” to reinforce the building diagonally:

While columns and beams are the basic structure of architecture, bracing has a strong meaning as a reinforcing material.

You can assemble a quadrilateral structure by combining columns and beams. It is possible to assemble floors, walls, and ceilings with this, but this alone cannot withstand the forces acting in the horizontal direction such as earthquakes and strong winds.


Both beams and columns in construction are structural skeletons. A structural frame is a part that mainly supports the power of a building. The big difference between beams and columns is whether they support vertical or horizontal forces. Beams are the structures that extend horizontally primarily to support vertical forces, and columns are parts that extend vertically primarily to support horizontal forces.

It is difficult to understand because the expressions vertical and horizontal are mixed up, but there is no problem in recognizing that the beam is a structural frame extending in the horizontal direction.

In this article, we have introduced the differences between “pillars,” “beams,” and “braces,” which are important as building materials.

By recognizing each role, it is possible to safely perform remodeling and renovation while maintaining earthquake resistance and durability.

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