What size beams?

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Topic by Greg posted 04-09-2014 03:58 PM 4950 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 1564 days

04-09-2014 03:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question

I’ve been looking online for a good resource that has a calculator that will help in deciding beam dimensions. I know I know, slot of you will say call an engineer or an architect. But that is not always practical when on the job site and something comes up. Now I use certain rules of thumb and I guarantee they are overkill. But sometimes less is more and I was wondering if anyone knew of such a resource

-- Ferdinand and Son Construction. Do it right the first time. Like us on Facebook

View reedwood's profile


101 posts in 2571 days

04-10-2014 12:20 PM

Hey bud,

I went online and looked for a beam load calculator and found several you can use. Some say they’re free but not so. They even have an App for your phone!

Think about it – You can use your touch phone as a beam load calculator, a level, a flash light, an underwater camera, video recorder, jobsite radio, portfolio, estimator and a texter thingy to order Jimmy Johns…..freaky fast.

I’m surprised they don’t make cell phones like a Swiss pocket knife: splinter remover, screwdriver, toothpick, scratch awl, toenail clippers could come in handy, ......hey, why not? Ha! jk

I have a book and learned the math a long time ago but like everyone else, forget and usually end up getting the beam company to size it or the Architect does it on the plan on big projects.

Otherwise, I’m like you, done enough framing and remodeling to eyeball it and go a little bigger. Never been red flagged in 40 years. well, there was that one time I didn’t get a permit, but that don’t count. right?

what are you working on?

-- mark - Grayslake IL.

View Greg 's profile


32 posts in 1564 days

04-10-2014 02:06 PM

I’m not working in anything specific. I do have a restructuring of a first floor in a 100+ year old house in starting on Tuesday. It’s going to take some beams but very simple stuff the longest is 12’. Not exactly a hard thing to figure lol.

It’s amazing today how many people don’t want to get permits. That house facelift I have posted. Was 3 months. (Not because of me because the homeowner wanted to hire his own mason), and no permits. Not that I care. I make sure that it states in the contract that the homeowner is responsible for permits. It’s not the greatest practice for homeowners though. I’m a competent contractor and guarantee the stuff I build is up to if not better than building code, but there’s a lot of shady guys out there. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share. But hey I get a lot if “fixit” work following these shmucks.

I have the dewalt app on my iphone. It actually works pretty good. But it’s designed more for deck building with a deck load calculator. Which to be honest is not that tough. But it’s called dewalt mobile pro. No it’s not free but you can purchase the calculations you need. Pretty handy stuff. Good rule of thumb on decks if anyone else is reading this. 1” of thickness on 2x material equals 2’ of load carrying on a deck

-- Ferdinand and Son Construction. Do it right the first time. Like us on Facebook

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Dan Lyke

345 posts in 3636 days

04-14-2014 06:54 PM

There are some things to which you can pervert the American Wood Council Maximum Span calculator and the AWC Span Options calculator, if you dummy up the numbers to simulate the end (or cantilever) loading from a bunch of joists.

And I have spent some time digging through the AWC Maximum Span Tables trying to do similar stuff.

For all of that, my project eventually needed an engineer’s stamp (okay, two) anyway, but going through the numbers on my own was very helpful.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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