We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Wood Beam?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A wood beam is a structural support made from wood. They are most commonly used in wood frame structures like small houses, although they can be used in other types of construction as well. Both sawn lumber and engineered wood products are used to make beams, with engineered lumber having some distinct advantages including greater resistance to warping and twisting when it is well made. Contractors and architects are involved in decision making about the kinds of beams to use in a structure and how to install them.

Beams are designed to resist bending when stressed by weight or forces like high winds. They are included in structural elements like floors and roofs to distribute the weight of the structure and provide support. Historically, wood was the most common construction material in many regions of the world and solid wood beams were a preferred method of structural support.

The type of wood and size of the beam both play a role in how much weight a single wood beam will be able to bear. Dense, close-grained woods tend to be preferred because of their increased strength, as well as resistance to insects and rot. The wood beam can be cut in a solid block, I, or H shape, depending on the needs of construction. In some cases, multiple pieces of wood are stacked and bound to create a single beam. The wood needs to be fully cured before it can be used, as green wood will warp and twist once it is in place, compromising structural integrity.

In the case of engineered wood products, the wood beam is carefully calibrated to determine how much pressure it can withstand. These beams can be used as soon as they are finished, as they do not need to sit and cure. They tend to have a more predictable performance, as the wood is not flawed with knots, fine cracks, and other issues known to occur in sawn lumber. Engineered wood can also be fabricated in a variety of shapes to accommodate special building needs.

In the design phase of a structure, architects will determine what kinds of materials need to be used for the structural supports. There may be aesthetic concerns in cases where supports will be exposed, and in some cases, false wood beams may be installed over or around beams made from other materials like concrete and metal. A false wood beam is typically lightweight and may be made from veneers rather than solid wood.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Laotionne — On Dec 16, 2014

I stayed in a vacation house on a lake once, and a couple of the rooms in the house had timber beams on the ceiling. The beams gave the house a great country or rustic feel.

By Animandel — On Dec 16, 2014

We have a steel beam in our house. The beam supports the area between our kitchen and family room. We were told the beam was required by the building code, so we had to have it in order for our house to pass inspection. The beam is not flush with the ceilings of the two areas it joins, so it is very noticeable, and I think it takes a little away from the look of the house.

Only recently, I learned that these wood beams can be used instead of the huge steal beams in many houses and other buildings. I would much rather have had the wood if I had known about this before the beam we have was put in. While I wish the beam would not show at all, I would much rather see a wood beam than a steal one in my house.

By Sporkasia — On Dec 15, 2014

An old house that I was considering buying to renovate and sell had been previously renovated several times over the years. This house was very, very old. Some of the work done on the house was obviously not completed by professionals.

There was a wall that had been originally between the old kitchen and the dining room. There was also another wall that had separated the dining room and what had been turned into a family room. Both walls had been knocked down without any consideration for how this was going to affect the stability of the structure.

One of the walls had indeed been a structural wall. Fortunately the entire house had not caved in. An inspector told me that I would have to go in and install a huge wood beam to reinforce the structure. I decided not to buy the house because this was not something I knew anything about and it would have been costly.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.