When moving a wall, make sure you have the right beam

Robert Corbett, Structural Engineering Analyst

I’m sure we’ve all been to a house where we thought: “Man, this place would really open up if that wall (or post) wasn’t in the way!” Maybe your own home comes to mind? Especially in the Columbia River Gorge, where beautiful views are visible from just about every lot.

This type of home improvement is much more feasible than you might think. Most of the time, these walls or posts are load bearing; meaning that they support the floor or roof above. If this is the case, removing the wall or post will require replacing the load bearing member with a beam capable of supporting the loads.

As technology has advanced so has lumber. There are several types of beams that can be used to achieve a certain look, whether it be an exposed beam or one completely hidden in the ceiling. From the cheapest to most expensive, the primary types of timber beams that are used in construction are as follows:

The biggest advantage you get from the different types of beam is a larger bending strength. Solid Sawn Lumber, the cheapest, has the least bending strength, and Parallel Strand Lumber, the most expensive, has the highest bending strength. Having a higher bending strength means that the beam can span longer lengths, resulting in a larger opening, with a smaller beam. This is useful when you want to hide the beam in the ceiling so you are limited on the depth of your beam. In some cases, an exposed beam look is desired. When this is the case some of the beams aren’t very aesthetically pleasing. Specifically, LVLs and LSLs. When going for an exposed beam look we would recommend Solid Sawn Lumber, GLBs or PSLs. PSLs look especially pleasing when stained or finished. Our engineering services can help you get the look you’re going for while minimizing costs by utilizing our expertise in building materials.

If you would like to learn more about Hood River Engineers and what we do, visit our website at www.hoodriverengineers.com. If you have any questions for me or one of our engineers, email us at GorgeExpert@hoodrivernews.com We are glad to offer an opinion or quote at no cost.

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