The lintel is often associated with the concept of a door or window. The word is commonly used, however, its exact definition escapes many. There are different types of lintels like concrete, wooden, prefabricated. So, do you want to know what is the function of a lintel, and how is it prepared? In this article, you will find all the information and our advice for installing it in the doors, and windows.
A lintel is a fundamental part of construction but also in the context of a house renovation. It is placed horizontally between two vertical uprights. Initially, the wooden lintel was placed above a fireplace or an opening, such as a window or a door. Today, there are more resistant materials, such as concrete steel, for example. You can install it among the structural work after the opening of a load-bearing wall with IPN installation. Or during the construction phase of an interior without a wall or visible partition. So, what a lintel exactly is? Let’s know more.
What is a lintel?
The lintel is an element that sits above an opening, such as a door or a window. It rests on two supports distributed on either side of the opening. People used the lintel very early in history. It then took the form of a wooden beam and was placed above the openings and at the level of the hearth of a fireplace.
Since then, the techniques have evolved. In addition, the openings have become larger and larger. Therefore, other materials used for it, such as steel or concrete, although it is still possible to find wooden lintels.
What are the types of lintels?
We call prefabricated lintel when it made of wood or monobloc concrete. However, it made from a single piece that place on vertical pillars.
Here are the different types of lintels:
- Reinforced concrete
It is the most traditional. It allows immediate installation, which does not require additional work. In most cases, it is left exposed on a stone wall for a rustic finish.
In reality, it is an IPN beam. The latter offers up to 12 meters of the range, which divided into several sections. In addition, it integrates into the masonry to make the structure more stable and a more contemporary look.
This type of lintel, based on reinforced concrete, allows easier installation and guarantees a perfect span. In addition, it integrates with any masonry. With less decorative potential, it usually repainted.
This type has the particularity of aligning several cinder blocks, which all fill with reinforced concrete. As a result, the drying and curing time will naturally be longer than usual. It can take up to 28 days maximum, which to consider during a renovation.
That is the type of lintel that provides the most rigidity between the precast and the one made of concrete blocks. The pre-lintel is laid on the uprights of the room and is the load-bearing and formwork element for the other masonry pieces.
Note that a prefabricated lintel is heavier than an elaborate. However, it does not require too long a drying time. After installation, it is possible to resume work almost immediately.
The prefabricated lintel made from one piece. Therefore, it is possible to develop a pose in several sections. However, this requires a heavier workload.
How to choose your lintel?
There are several criteria to take into account when choosing it:
The element must be dimensioned precisely to support the loads.
Your taste in aesthetics and finishes will lead you to prefer one type of lintel. The constraints of your site (ease of installation, supply, drying time, etc.) can also strongly influence your choice.
You need to consider the budget.
To define the total cost of the lintel, you must consider the supply of the part and the labor for its installation on site.
How to install a lintel?
The installation is both a delicate and straightforward process because it influences the balance of the house! You must observe several technical and safety instructions. By the width of the wall, note that you will need to ask for a lintel or two (from a vast wall of 30 cm)
Here is the list of steps to successfully install:
- First, trace the outlines on the wall at the exact spot where you will install the lintel.
- Perforate the wall, following the drawn profile. Be delicate. The perforation must correspond as closely as possible to the dimensions of the lintel under penalty of having to recap, level, and wait for drying.
- Do not forget to sand the internal surface at the marked perimeter.
- Check the level.
- Make a cement mortar and spread it over the inner part of the perforated hole.
- After laying the lintel on this cement bed, all you have to do is seal the structure with concrete and stones.
Wait at least seven days of drying, depending on the composition of the mortar, before going to the finishes. If you need to lay two lintels, perform the same steps on one side and not in parallel.
If you want to put a lintel above a window, the easiest way still reinforced concrete or a metal profile. For a rendering more in keeping with the rest of the house, you can still cover this element with a false wooden, purely decorative. Make or have made an oak cladding. On the outside, the lintel also allows the installation of rolling wheels by fitting them into the box under the lintel.
In which cases should you install a lintel?
You can place a lintel above each bay (window, door, etc.) located in a load-bearing wall. During the initial construction, that is true. If an opening subsequently creates in a load-bearing wall to install a window, for example.
Note that the header is only helpful in a load-bearing wall. If you create a door in a non-loadbearing partition, it is not necessary to create a header. Why? That is due to the very definition of a load-bearing wall.
As the name suggests, a load-bearing wall must “carry” loads. These include the weight of the structure itself (walls, floors, roof, etc.) but also operating costs (occupants, furniture, etc.) and climatic loads (especially wind pressure and the weight of the snow). All of these loads go down mechanically to the foundations of a building.
When an opening is created in a wall, there is a lack of material to carry these loads. We must therefore create a reinforcement to redistribute the efforts. It is the functional role of the lintel: to transfer loads of the building to the jambs of the opening.
How much does a lintel cost?
The lintel is not a very expensive part. For example, you can get a 1m40 concrete Monoblock for 20 €. Reinforced concrete prelintel costs around € 30 and a chaining lintel is priced at € 60. It is more difficult to indicate a steel or wood price because these elements require a custom cut. The price varies according to the section and the desired length. To these prices, it is necessary to add the labor cost and the interruption of the site for the hardening of the concrete.
While it is possible to lay a lintel yourself, we can only recommend working with a team of professionals. On the one hand, to determine the most suitable material for your situation and the necessary length. An oversized or undersized lintel creates real aesthetic problems at best, balance at worst.
On the other hand, the installation of a lintel itself is a process that requires a lot of equipment and technical skills. Remember that it can determine the whole balance of your home. Better to spend a few dollars more with a technical design office and qualified artisans to avoid any risk of collapse.
FAQ on what is a lintel
1. How thick is the lintel?
A lintel of 2.80 m must have a minimum height of 28 cm. It supports on the jambs must be equal to 1 / 10th of the span with a minimum of 20 cm. The height of it recommended should correspond to the 10th of the span with a minimum of 20 cm.
2. How to place a prestressed lintel?
In new construction, we begin to assemble a jamb on each side. Then we have a prelintel. At the same time, choosing dimensions slightly larger than the opening (e.g., if the window measures 100 cm, we will put a prelintel of 120 cm). Finally, it will place on the prelintel.
3. When to remove a lintel?
The formwork stripping time. Once you have completed the formwork, you can strip the concrete the next day. But the temperature has to be high. If you are not sure about the waiting time, you can wait for 3-4 days.
4. How to install a prefabricated lintel?
The piece of wood or steel serving as the lintel must protrude from each side of the door by about twenty centimeters to ensure a better seat. It is then advisable to drill the wall with an appropriate material to clear the place on which it will place.
Conclusion on what is a lintel
In the past, the lintel was a simple wooden element arranged horizontally between two vertical posts. At that time, it served as stable support above an opening (doors and windows). Likewise, many people also used the wooden lintel for the creation of fireplaces.
But with the evolution of construction techniques and the constant enlargement of the openings, and the importance of the loads resting on a load-bearing wall, the lintel no longer has the simple structure it once had. Indeed, it has become more sophisticated and more resistant, the construction of which requires more technical expertise. So, if you think this article is helpful to know the above information about lintel, let us know in the comment section.