Types of Lintels used in Construction

Lintel can be constructed using wood, stone, steel, brick or reinforced concrete based on the requirement and the structure type. 

Based on the material used for lintel construction it can be classified into several types, namely:
  1. Wood or Timber Lintel
  2. Stone Lintels
  3. Brick Lintels
  4. Steel Lintels
  5. R.C.C Lintels
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1. Wood or Timber Lintels for Building Construction

Wood or Timber Lintel in Construction

The important features of wooden lintels are:
  • Oldest type of Lintel
  • Mostly used in regions with high availability of timber
  • Timber lintel either constructed as single piece or combination of two pieces
  • Timber lintels can be strengthened by providing steel plates at the top and bottom if necessary. This is called as flitched lintels.
  • Timber used for lintel construction must be strong and sound

Wooden Lintel

The figure above shows a simple lintel and a built-up lintel. A simple lintel is a wooden lintel that is provided over the full width of the wall by joining three timber pieces using a steel bolt as shown in section A-A in above figure. For wider walls, built-up lintel is used. Here, two wooden pieces is kept at a distance with the help of wooden distance pieces or packing piece.

Disadvantages of Timber Lintels 

  1. Timber lintels can decay and be destroyed by fire
  2. Compared with other types of lintels, they are weak
  3. Costly
  4. Consumes timber causing deforestation.

2. Stone Lintels for Building Construction

Stone Lintel
Stone Lintel

Stone lintel is the most common type of lintel as the stone material is available abundantly. It consists of a simple stone slab of larger thickness, and provided over the openings in brick walls or stone walls. A dressed stone if used as lintel enhances the architectural beauty of the surface.

stone lintel
Stone Lintel 

  • Stone lintels are constructed as single piece or more than one piece along the wall width
  • The stone lintel thickness is generally 10 cm per metre span
  • Can be used for spans upto 2m
  • For spans with large width, stone slabs are kept at the edges


  • Weak in tension
  • Cracks under vibration
  • No suitable for areas with high shock waves

3. Brick Lintels

Brick lintel possess less strength and hence used for small openings that is less than 1m with low loads. The general layout of brick lintel arrangement are shown in figure below.

Brick Lintels
Brick Lintels

  • Depth of brick lintel vary from 10 to 20 cm based on the span
  • Constructed over temporary wooden centering
  • Bricks with frogs are used to create joggles so that it improve lock and shear resistance of the end joints. ( Joggles are the locking grooves cut between bricks for added lateral strength). Such lintels are called as joggled brick lintel.

4. Reinforced Brick Lintel

Reinforced brick lintel are used for large spanned openings that need to take heavy loads. The depth of reinforced brick lintel is equal to 10 cm or in the multiples of 10. 
Reinforced Brick Lintel
Reinforced Brick Lintel

As shown in figure above, in a reinforced brick lintel, the bricks are placed with a spacing of 2 to 3cm along the span to incorporate mild steel bars. These gaps are later filled with a mortar mix of ratio of 1:3 cement mortar. Vertical shear stirrups are provided in every third joints with a stirrups of 6 mm diameter. Main reinforcement is provided at the bottom of the lintel, having a diameter of 8 to 10mm and are cranked at the ends as shown in figure above.

5. Steel Lintels

For openings with large span and high super imposed loads, steel lintels are used. It make use of rolled steel joists or channel sections in combination or as single for the lintel construction.

Steel Lintel Type

A single steel section is embedded in concrete during lintel construction or it is cladded with the stone facing so that it matches with the wall width. 

Steel Lintels
Steel Lintels

When two or more steel sections are used, they are kept in position using a tube separator as shown in figure above.

6. Reinforced Concrete Lintels (R.CC Lintels)

Due to the strength, rigidity, fire resistance, economy and ease of construction R.C.C lintels offers, all other lintel construction have got a second place in lintel construction. R.C.C lintels can be employed for any span and width equals the width of wall.  It can be constructed either cast-in-situ or precast. 

Precast Concrete Lintel Constructed Above the Window for a Masonry Wall

Reinforced Concrete Lintels (R.CC Lintels)
Reinforced Concrete Lintels (R.CC Lintels)

An R.C.C lintel is designed based on the span and magnitude of loading. Similar to the design of a R.C.C beam, main reinforcement bars are provided at bottom to resist bending and resist tensile force. Ends are cranked and shear stirrups are provided to resist traverse shear.

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