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Difference between Joist and Beam

Difference between Joist and Beam

When it comes to structural elements in a home, there are two main types: joists and beams. Joists are the horizontal members that support the weight of the building materials above them, while beams are the vertical members that support the weight of the joists. Though they may both seem like simple pieces of wood, there are some important distinctions between these two components.

What is Joist?

  • A joist is a horizontal structural member used in framing to span an open space, often between beams that subsequently transfer loads to vertical members. When incorporated into a floor framing system, joists serve to provide rigidity to the subfloor sheathing, allowing it to function as a diaphragm.
  • Joists are often composed of wood, engineered wood, or steel, each of which have unique characteristics which influence their appropriateness for certain applications. Steel joists can be used when long spans are required but might require deeper beam pockets in the supporting structure.
  • Engineered wood joists offer high strength and consistency while still being light enough to allow for easy handling and installation. Wooden joists are the most traditional option and often the most economical, but can be susceptible to moisture damage and require more maintenance than either steel or engineered wood joists. The appropriate choice of material for a given application depends on a number of factors including span, load, deflection requirements, fire resistance, acoustical performance, and availability.

What is Beam?

A beam is a load-bearing structural element that typically spans horizontally between supports. The term “beam” can also refer to a horizontal bar of metal or wood that supports a structure or load. In engineering, beams are designed to resist bending, twisting, and shearing forces. Common types of beams used in construction include girders, joists, and trusses. Beams are an important part of many structures, including bridges, buildings, and houses. They are also used in cranes and other lifting machines.

Difference between Joist and Beam

A beam is a horizontal structural element that supports loads from above, while a joist is a horizontal structural element that carries loads from below. Beams are typically made of wood, steel, or concrete, while joists are usually made of wood.

  • Both beams and joists are essential components of any load-bearing structure, and they work together to support the weight of the structure and its occupants.
  • While beams and joists may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between them. Beams are designed to support loads from above, while joists are designed to carry loads from below.
  • This means that beams are typically stronger than joists. In addition, beams are typically made of stronger materials such as steel or concrete, while joists are usually made of wood. As a result, beams can span longer distances than joists without additional support.

Finally, beams are often used in conjunction with other structural elements such as columns or trusses, while joists typically stand alone.


The joist and beam are two important pieces of lumber that are used in construction. They have different purposes, and it is important to understand the difference between them when planning a project. Similarly, accounting and financial management are two important aspects of the business. It is important to understand the difference between them in order to make sound financial decisions for your company. If you need help understanding the differences between these concepts, our team can provide assistance.

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