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The Home Depot

Pros and Cons of Wood Beams

Pro Referral > Home Guides > General Contracting > Pros and Cons of Wood Beams
Pros and Cons of Wood Beams

Wood beams are used for structural support in different kinds of construction. The beams can be made of sawn lumber or engineered wood and are most often found in floors and roofs. This is because wood beams can hold a noticeable amount of weight and withstand the elements of nature to a great extent. They type of wood used and the size of the beam will determine how much weight it can hold.

  1. Wood beams can be cut in different shapes according to the architectural requirements. Completely cured wood should be used because green wood can lead to warping and twisting after it is fixed in place.

    1.Wood Beams Zoning Check

    Since beam installations are part of the structural aspect of any building, it is essential to obtain a permit from the local building authority before you proceed with your project. Approvals are needed for installing and replacing beams. Calling up your local zoning authorities will help you find out what rules and regulations exist regarding beam installations.

  2. 2.Wood Beams Shape and Size

    Wood beams can be cut in different shapes according to the architectural requirements. Completely cured wood should be used because green wood can lead to warping and twisting after it is fixed in place. When using engineered wood, curing is not required since these beams are ready for use the moment they are manufactured. Wood beams come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Weighing these positives and negatives is essential before you come to a decision.

  3. 3.Types of Wood Beams

    Wood beams can be natural timber, engineered, or laminated. Timber beams are perhaps the strongest amongst these as their characteristics are similar to that of a tree in its natural state. The engineered wood beams have an ‘I’ shape and are usually made to order. They are made in such a way as to enable them to bear the maximum load possible. Laminated beams are made of many layers of thin, wood strips held together by glue in desired shapes. They can be made as per the builder’s specifications. This makes it more expensive than the other options.

  5. 4.Advantages of Wood Beams

    One chief advantage of using wood beams in construction is that they are an economical option and also help to reduce energy costs to a certain extent. They are versatile and thus can be incorporated into a variety of architectural designs with ease. Wood beams are highly durable and can last for many years without showing any signs of wear and tear. The beams can also be painted in different colors to match the décor of the house. Wood beams also improve the aesthetic charm of a house and give it an elegance that cannot be replicated by steel or any other such material. Certainly if you stain them; stained wooden beams are fabulous.

  6. 5.Disadvantages of Wood Beams

    One common problem encountered in wood beams is their tendency to split over a period of time. Depending on the size of the beam and the type of wood used, splits can weaken beams significantly and thus affect the integrity of the structure. If the split starts to increase in width or lengthen, then it is a definite sign that the beam is giving way and remedial measures must be adopted immediately. Beams weigh a lot and make it difficult for just one person to handle them. In some instances, beams can be so heavy that they have to be lifted up by special equipment suitable for the purpose. Wood beams are also more susceptible to rot and attacks by termites or other pests. This can cause them to turn hollow from within and decrease their load bearing capacity.


    The strength and longevity of wood beams depends on the kind of wood they are made out of. So, unless you are knowledgeable in this matter, you might not be able to make the right choice of wood beams for your home.

  7. 6.Talking to the Right People

    It is essential to be aware of the numerous pros and cons of wood beams before you decide to proceed with these for your home. Knowing the cost involved as well as the maintenance it entails will help you plan better for the long term. If you are in any doubt, consulting with your architect, contractor, or other professional expert will help you make the right decision.

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