A lintel is essentially a structural support that spans an opening in a wall. The use of lintels in architecture dates back many centuries, from the highly decorative masonry creations used in ancient Greece, to the timber lintels seen in Tudor times. These days lintels are mainly constructed in concrete or steel.
Steel lintels are lighter than concrete and are easier to manually handle than concrete. Steel lintels are popular because they don’t interrupt the look of brick work by being hidden during their construction process. Most steel lintels are made from pre-galvanised steel which is cut into shape.
When selecting a steel lintel you have to consider; the type of wall under construction (cavity, solid, timber etc) and the lintel length which is worked out by calculating the total width of the structural opening plus 150mm end bearings at each end. Another important calculation to consider is the dead and imposed loads the lintel will be under.
Lintels offer structural support and play a part in reducing heat loss in a building. An opening in the building fabric is a possible route for heat to escape which is known as thermal bridging. Thermal brake plates are lintels which have been designed to overcome thermal bridging. There are various designs of lintels which help eliminate thermal bridging.