Difference Between Joist And Beam

Knowledgebase

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by mdmtool

Beams and joists are among the most important components of any building or structure, providing support for floors and ceilings. While these two components serve similar purposes, they have distinct differences in their design and application.

Beams are generally larger than joists and are designed to span greater distances between supports. They can be made out of wood, steel, or other materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Beams are typically connected to posts or walls that provide support along the length of the beam. The weight of the beam is dispersed evenly across its total span.

Joists are smaller than beams and are designed to span shorter distances between supports. They can also be made out of wood, steel, or other materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Joists are typically connected to beams that provide support along the length of the joist. The weight is concentrated on the ends or points where joists attach to beams or posts, rather than being dispersed across its total span.

Joist Vs Beam

What Is Joist?

  • Joists are smaller than beams and are designed to span shorter distances between supports
  • They can be made out of wood, steel, or other materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Joists are typically connected to beams that provide support along the length of the joist
  • The weight is concentrated on the ends or points where joists attach to beams or posts, rather than being dispersed across its total span
  • Joists are used to support the floors and ceilings of a building

Why Is It Called A Joist?

The term joist is derived from the French word “joste” which means beam or girder. Joists are structural components used to provide support to floors and ceilings in a building by transferring their weight down to beams or posts. The term has been in use since at least the 16th century.

What Is Beam?

  • Beams are generally larger than joists and are designed to span greater distances between supports
  • They can be made out of wood, steel, or other materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Beams are typically connected to posts or walls that provide support along the length of the beam
  • The weight of the beam is dispersed evenly across its total span
  • Beams are used to providing structural support for floors, ceilings, and roofs.

Why Is It Called A Beam?

The term beam comes from late Old English and originally referred to a tree branch or log. It is believed that the use of beams in construction first began with wooden structures, but over time they have been used to support many different types of buildings and structures made out of various materials.

Types Of Joist:

  1. Floor joists: These are the most common type of joists, they are used to support floors and ceilings.
  2. Ceiling joists: These joists are designed to hold up the weight of a ceiling, such as in an attic or other high-ceilinged area.
  3. Deck joists: Deck joists are designed to keep a deck rigid and secure. They provide support for the flooring, railings, and other components that make up a deck.
  4. Rim joists: Rim joists are used to support walls and provide additional structural stability.

Types Of Beams

  1. Timber Beam: Timber beams are the most common type of beam, they are made out of wood and are used to support floors, roofs, and other structural components.
  2. Steel Beam: Steel beams are strong and durable, making them ideal for use in large buildings that require a lot of support.
  3. Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) Beam: LVL beams are engineered wood beams that are made from layers of laminated veneer. They are lighter and stronger than timber beams, making them a popular choice for large projects or areas where additional strength is needed.
  4. Engineered Beam: Engineered beams are designed and constructed to be stronger than traditional structural beams. They are often used in large, heavy-load applications and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
  5. Flitch Beam: Flitch beams are a combination of wood and steel, with the steel providing extra strength and support. They are often used in areas where additional strength is needed to support large loads.
  6. Combined Dimensional Beam: Combined dimensional beams are made from two or more smaller beams that have been connected together. They are often used in areas where additional strength is needed or when space is limited.
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What Beams Do?

  1. Beams provide structural support for floors, ceilings, and roofs.
  2. They are designed to span greater distances between supports than joists.
  3. The weight of the beam is dispersed evenly across its total span.
  4. They can be made out of wood, steel, or other materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  5. Beams are used to providing additional strength in areas where large loads are needed or where space is limited.
  6. They can be made to fit any design requirement, from providing extra support for a deck to holding up the weight of an entire building.
  7. They are often used to provide additional stability for walls and other structural components.

What Joist Do?

  1. Joists provide support to the floors and ceilings of a building.
  2. The weight is concentrated on the ends or points where joists attach to beams or posts, rather than being dispersed across its total span.
  3. Joists come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes depending on the application they are being used for.
  4. They are typically made out of wood, but can also be made out of metal or engineered materials such as LVLs.
  5. Joists provide additional stability and support to areas that require additional strength or where space is limited.
  6. They are most commonly used in residential buildings, but can also be used in larger projects.
  7. Joists can be designed to fit any design requirement, from providing extra support for a deck to holding up the weight of an entire building.

Application:

Joist:

  • Residential buildings.
  • Walls and ceilings.

Beam:

  • Commercial applications such as bridges or skyscrapers.
  • Roofing
  • Supporting large structures with limited space.

Comparison Chart

PROPERTY Joist: Beam:
Terminology: Joists are horizontal members that provide support to floors and ceilings. Beams are larger, heavier structural members that span greater distances between supports than joists.
Materials: Joists can be made from wood, steel, or other materials depending on the application they are being used for. Beams can be made from wood, steel, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), or other engineered materials.
Weight Distribution: The weight of a joist is concentrated at the points where it attaches to support beams or posts. The weight of a beam is dispersed evenly across its total span.
Size and Strength: Joists come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials depending on the application they are being used for.  Beams are typically larger and stronger than joists, making them ideal for use in large buildings that require a lot of support.
Roofing:  Joists are not typically used in roofing applications. Beams can be used for roofing and provide additional strength, support, and stability to the structure.
Overall Design and Structure: Joists are most commonly used in residential buildings, but can also be used in larger projects. Beams are commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings. They can be designed to fit any design requirement, from providing extra support for a deck to holding up the weight of an entire building.
purpose: Joists are mainly used to provide support and stability for floors, ceilings, and roofs. Beams are primarily used to span greater distances between supports than joists while providing extra strength in areas where large loads are needed or space is limited.
Function: Joists provide support and stability to floors, ceilings, and roofs. Beams are used as structural components to provide additional strength to walls, floors, and other structures. They can also be used in roofing applications to add extra support and stability.
Point of Support:  The points of support for joists are typically concentrated at the ends or points where they attach to beams or posts. Beams are supported across their entire length, providing greater strength and stability.
Overall Usage:  Joists are most commonly used in residential buildings, but can also be used in larger projects. Beams are primarily used in commercial applications but can be used in residential buildings as well. They provide extra strength and support for large structures such as bridges or skyscrapers.
Spanning: Joists are typically used for shorter spans than beams. Beams can span greater distances and provide better support for large structures.
Quantity Required: Depending on the application, fewer joists may be needed than beams. More beams are typically required to provide enough support and stability for larger structures.
Load-Bearing Capabilities: Joists provide limited load-bearing capabilities when compared to beams. Beams are designed to bear heavier loads and provide greater stability than joists.
Price: Joists are typically less expensive than beams. Beams tend to be more expensive due to their added strength and span capabilities.
Installation: Joists are relatively easy to install, as they do not require any special tools or equipment. Installing a beam can be more complicated and typically requires specialized tools and equipment.
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Faqs

Are Joists Load Bearing?

Yes, joists are load-bearing. They provide structural support to floors and ceilings in a building by transferring the weight of these elements down to beams or posts. Joists can come in various shapes, sizes, materials, and strength levels depending on the application they are being used for.

Are Beams Load Bearing?

Yes, beams are also load-bearing. They are larger and heavier structural members that span greater distances between supports than joists. Beams can be made out of wood, steel, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), or other engineered materials. They can provide additional strength in areas where large loads are needed or where space is limited.

Are Beams Stronger Than Joists?

Yes, beams are typically stronger than joists due to their larger size and heavier materials. Beams can span greater distances and provide more support for large structures such as bridges or skyscrapers. They can also bear heavier loads than joists and provide greater stability in areas where space is limited.

Are Joists More Expensive Than Beams?

No, joists are typically less expensive than beams due to their smaller size and materials. Joists can come in various shapes, sizes, materials, and strength levels depending on the application they are being used for. However, more joists may be needed than beams in order to provide enough support and stability for a project.

Are Beams Easier To Install Than Joists?

No, beams are typically more difficult to install than joists. Installing a beam usually requires specialized tools and equipment, whereas installing a joist can be done with common hand tools. ]

Are Beams And Grinders Similar?

No. Beams are structural members used to carry loads across a span while grinders are used to reduce material into smaller pieces. They have different uses and applications and are not similar in any way.

Are Joists Strong Enough For Commercial Applications?

Joists can be used in commercial applications, however, they provide limited load-bearing capabilities when compared to beams.

Do Joists Sit On Beams?

Yes, joists can sit on beams. Beams provide structural support to floors and ceilings in a building by transferring the weight of these elements down to joists or posts. Joists are used to span greater distances between supports and provide additional strength in areas where large loads are needed.

Do I Need Special Tools To Install A Beam?

Yes, installing a beam typically requires specialized tools and equipment, whereas installing a joist can be done with common hand tools. If you are not familiar with the installation process it is recommended that you hire a professional to install the beam for you.

Are Floor Joists Beams?

No, floor joists are not beams. Joists provide structural support to floors and ceilings in a building by transferring the weight of these elements down to beams or posts.

What Is The Difference Between Joist And A Stud?

Joists and studs are both structural components used in building construction, however, they have different uses. Joists provide support to floors and ceilings by transferring the weight of these elements down to beams or posts, while studs are vertical members used to frame walls and provide additional strength to a structure.

Are Beams Stronger Than Joists?

Yes, beams are typically stronger than joists due to their larger size and heavier materials. Beams can span greater distances and provide more support for large structures such as bridges or skyscrapers. They can also bear heavier loads than joists and provide greater stability in areas where space is limited.

Are Beam Prices Affected By Size?

Yes, the price of a beam is affected by its size and type. Larger beams made of heavier materials typically cost more than smaller joists made of lighter materials. Different types of materials also affect the price, with some materials being more expensive than others.

Do Beams Need Support?

Yes, beams need to be supported by joists or posts in order to provide adequate structural stability. Without the extra support of joists, a beam can buckle or break under excessive load. beams should always be securely fastened to their supporting structure for maximum durability.  ​

Are Joists And Beams Alike?

No, they have different purposes and perform different roles in a structure. Joists are primarily used to support the floors and ceilings of a building while beams provide additional strength and stability to large areas or where space is limited. Beams can also be used for roofing applications.

Conclusion

joists and beams have different purposes in construction projects. Joists are usually used for floors, ceilings, and roofs while beams are mainly used as structural components to provide additional strength and stability. Beams are typically larger and stronger than joists, making them ideal for use in large buildings that require a lot of support. They can also be used in roofing applications to add extra support and stability. Joists span shorter distances than beams, but fewer of them may be required depending on the application. Beams provide greater load-bearing capabilities than joists and are mainly used in larger commercial projects.

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