Way before modern times, beams and columns are already significant parts of ancient structures. This foundation support system started in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome, lasting for about 3100 BC in Egypt, which later the Roman Empire fully absorbed in 30 BC. 


Now, in today’s time, the column-beam-slab building mechanism is still being applied in various high-rising structures that utilize new technology and innovative materials. This blog post will dive deep into columns and beams and their imminent importance in structural engineering. 


What are Columns? 

Columns are construction elements that transfer loads from a roof or upper-floor ceiling area’s slab down to the structure’s foundation and the ground underneath. You can most frequently find these installed in trusses, bridge structure support, and building frames. Moreover, it also aids in upholding loads of floors, roofs, and bridge platforms.



Thus, builders must ensure proper installation of columns, as any mistake performed can collapse your establishment. To guarantee tight column application, you must first identify the main building load types, so you can appropriately create your structure according to the load it’ll handle: 


  • LIVE LOADS: The live loads are temporary load types that change in position, and you can place and remove them from the structure as you want. 
  • DEAD LOADS: The dead loads, or static loads, are fixed loads attached permanently to the establishment. Its size or location doesn’t change over time. 


Furthermore, you need to take note and calculate the following force load variables: 


  • Vertical Forces: The loads installed on horizontal beams and slab loads right above the columns generate vertical forces on the longitudinal axis of the column. 
  • Lateral Forces: Meanwhile, environmental factors, such as winds and earthquakes, produce lateral forces that are harmful as they can affect the column’s stability, causing your building to fall apart. If you aim to boost your column’s weather resistance, you can optionally partner it with weather-resistant steel exterior access doors, empowering your establishment and increasing its lasting value. 


Various column types 

Columns are available in a wide array of classifications based on shape, loading type, slenderness ratio, and pattern of lateral reinforcement. Here are the different column types you can encounter as you learn more about columns: 


Based on shape 

  • Rectangle: The rectangular-shaped type is concrete columns designed with a minimum horizontal width layout of 8 inches and can stand firm against harsh environment phases, such as solid wind forces and earthquake pressures. On the other hand, its dynamic load should also be in horizontal placement with no more than 10 to 12-inch dimensions. 
  • Circular: The circular-shaped type is another concrete column that is sensitive when it comes to static stresses. Hence, you should keep it under 100 square inches, and its minimum design diameter should be 12 inches at the very least.  


Based on the loading type 

  • Axial load and biaxial bending column 
  • Axial load and un-axial bending column 
  • Axially loaded column 


Based on the slenderness ratio 

  • Slender or long column: It’s long if the pillar’s length exceeds the critical buckling length. Moreover, if the buckling is unsuccessful, your column is probably slender. 
  • Short column: Meanwhile, if its length is less than the standard crucial buckling length and the column breaks down by shearing, you can consider it a short column.

Based on the pattern of lateral reinforcement 

  • Spiral columns 
  • Tied columns 


What are Beams? 

The beams are structural components that aid in transporting the loads from the slab to the columns. It’s a horizontally structured family that upholds and carries over the weight from one load-heavy wall to another. Its width and depth are often small in cross-section compared to its span. 


Generally, its primary roles are to support walls and ensure that concrete slabs don’t weigh down. It’s a structural member often utilized to reinforce columns, guaranteeing the ideal bending force distribution in the beams and barely warping in the columns.  


To accurately define the correct length and width of the beams, you must calculate the load or internal forces it is supposed to bear. Here are some of the internal pressures you should take into account:

  • Normal Force: The forces that move perpendicularly toward the beam’s surface. 
  • Shear Force: The pressures exerted with the object’s facade in parallel motion. 
  • Bending Moment: This force depends on a specific point in the moment diagram, but it can be the slope or the shearing force. 


Different beam types 

  • Simply supported beam 
  • Fixed beam 
  • Cantilever beam 
  • Continuous beam 
  • Overhanging beam 


Columns, beams, and their striking significance to structures 

Applying columns and beams on a construction project should be considered as it’s ideal for boosting the sturdiness and long-time value of the building’s corners and the meeting points of beams and walls. Contractors and crew builders should ensure proper installation, though, as any miscalculation can result in many dangers—harming individuals and your pocket. Take note of all the forces that can affect the beams’ and columns’ quality and performance.