Difference Between Column and Beam

Main Difference

Structural engineering is one of the most famous types of civil engineering nowadays. From old monuments to enormous buildings all are the products of the similar engineering branch. The structural foundations can be categorized into the following structures: concrete structures, timber structures, and steel structures. Though, you can’t feel the supports like beam or column which are underneath the floor or are placed in the walls aside you respectively but both these are load carrying elements. Column is also referred as a pillar in the common language; it is placed in the vertical form , which transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to the elements lying below, whereas, beam is a structural elements which withstands against the bending. Mainly beam carries vertical gravitational forces, but can also pull the horizontal loads on it.

Comparison Chart

ColumnBeam
MechanismColumn is the vertical structural element which is attached to roof slab, beam or ceiling, and it transfers load to the footings of building.Beam is a structural element to carry the loads from the slabs to the columns and with stand against the bending.
FunctionColumn affords the compression of load.Beam stands against the bending moment.
ImportanceA building can’T stand without column.A building can stand without beam.
TypesColumns are mainly classified as slender columns and short columns.Beams are classified as T, L or rectangular.

What is Column?

A column is a vertical structural element, which transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to the elements lying below. The column is also referred as pillar of the building as it holds the whole load from ceiling, beam, roof slab and puts it up on the base or foundation of the building. The importance of a column in building can be known as no building can stand without it. Apart from working as a strong support to the beams and arches to stand the building on its own, this structural element is nowadays also used as the decorative element. Earlier columns were carved out of the stones, now most often they are constructed by concrete along with the other materials like wood, cellular PVC, Aluminium, and fibre-reinforced polymer. Columns are mainly classified as slender columns and short columns depending upon the cross sectional dimensions.

What is Beam?

Beam is a structural element which withstands against the bending. Mainly beam carries vertical gravitational forces, but can also pull the horizontal loads on it. Beam is called as a sill plate or wall plate that carries the load and transmits it to the girders, walls or columns it is attached with. In early centuries, squared timbers were the most preferred material to be used as a beam for the structural support purpose, now to bear the bending force along with carrying vertical gravitational force, now they are made up of steel , aluminum or other such materials. In actual means beams are the structural materials, which bear the bending moment and the shear force of the load. To carry on the more load and tension, pre-stressed concrete beams are widely used nowadays in foundation of bridges and other such humongous structures. Several famous beams used nowadays are Simply supported Beam, Fixed Beam, Cantilever Beam, Continuous Beam, Overhanging Beam.

Column vs. Beam

  • Column is the vertical structural element which is attached to roof slab, beam or ceiling, and it transfers load to the footings of building, whereas Beam is a structural element to carry the loads from the slabs to the columns and with stand against the bending.
  • Column affords the compression of load, while a beam stands against the bending moment.
  • A building can stand without beam but not without column.
  • The intended function of ties in column and beam works differently.
  • Columns are mainly classified as slender columns and short columns, whereas, beams are classified as T, L or rectangular.

Comparison Video

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Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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