During the initial conceptualization of a building project, establishing beam depths is an important issue that involves estimating the structure depth to optimize material costs and labor man-hours. Structure depths routinely affect ceiling heights and layout of mechanical systems.

Prior to the use of costly computer software for building design, selection of preliminary member sizes using "rules of thumb" is an economical tool to determine beam depths. The depth and weight of structural members is dependent on variables such as spacing, span, load, and, unbraced length. For typical floor and roof systems, several "rules of thumb" can be derived based upon a beam’s span. The following "rules of thumb" can be used to estimate beam depths:

Depth of Roof Beams and Joists = 0.5*Span

Depth of Floor Beams and Joists = 0.6* Span

Depth of Composite Beams = 0.55* Span

We have developed an online program at http://www.qproq.com/sample_calc3.aspx that can be used by Architects to approximate beam sizes when developing a conceptual building plan.

We enjoy our work with the architectural community, and appreciate your consideration. Should you wish to discuss the need for structural engineering services on your projects, please call us at 570-823-9935. Thank You.

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