Difference Between Beam and Girder

By: | Updated: Jul-11, 2022
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Beam and girders are the two basic structural elements used in engineering. In this article, we will briefly explain what beam and girders are, their applications in construction and the main differences between them.

Summary Table

Beam Girder
Supports elements of a building Supports the structure of a building
Made from steel Made from wood, concrete, steel, stone, etc.
Commonly used in bridges, arches, and chimneys Commonly used in buildings and bridges

Difference Between Beam and Girder


A beam consists of a vertical column with horizontal top and bottom surfaces. These beam components are usually made of steel so that it can support the weight of a building or structure. In addition, beams must be continuous with no joints or discontinuities except for their vertical column parts. The width is measured from one side to the other, and it is considered as the area of a beam.

A girder is a structural element that supports the weight of a building or structure. It is also a structural member that connects two or more building elements. It is made of wood, concrete, steel, stone and other materials. Girder supports the weight of a building by bearing it over its own foundation (beam) to give stability to the structure. It is connected to beam members that are one above the other, and it acts as a beam’s support.

Beam vs Girder

Beam is the structural element that supports all other elements of the building. The beam has an upper end pointed towards the sky and a lower end facing downwards. A beam has a fixed length. It is not able to be extended or shortened. Girder, on the other hand, is one of many members that are used to support a structure. It is built on top of a solid foundation or beam, and it is used to connect two or more building elements that are one above the other.

A beam can be either straight or curved. Also, beams have different types of shapes depending on their function. The most common types of beams are square, rectangular and triangular with right angles and circular shapes. However, it is possible to find a beam whose shape is not exactly one of those three types. A beam is used to support the weight of a building or structure. It can also be used in other structures like bridges, arches and chimneys.

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The shape, size and distribution of girders depend on the kind and purpose of a structure. For example, a girder that is used to support an arch or pillar in a bridge is different from one that supports the weight of the same arch or pillar in a building. Girders are used to connect the beams of different buildings. Depending on the kind and size of girders, they can be used to span a distance. They are also used to support heavy structures like tall buildings and bridges.

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