Lintels are used for loadbearing purposes but may also be purely decorative. In masonry, lintels are used to support the weight over an opening, such as a doorway. Most masons and construction installers know the many advantages of steel lintels over concrete lintels. However, there are circumstances when concrete may be the better choice.
Concrete lintels are significantly less expensive than steel. If the load can be supported by either type, and it simply comes down to cost, concrete is the more favorable option.
2. Project Flexibility
Concrete lintels offer the installer more flexibility than their steel counterparts. Concrete lintels can be manipulated more easily to meet the installer’s needs. Concrete lintels can also be adjusted later in a project than steel lintels.
3. Certain Climates
In coastal areas, regular steel lintels can erode due to the salt levels in the air. While steel can be specially treated to withstand this erosion, it makes the lintel more expensive. This is an appropriate time to use concrete instead. When building underground, concrete lintels are also preferable. Concrete lintels are not susceptible to moisture and rust from being underground the way steel lintels are. For any harsh climates, concrete may be the more favorable option.
Steel lintels are stronger than concrete ones. However, a high strength pressurized concrete lintel has comparable strength and is considerably less expensive. The placement of the lintel installation will be a factor when determining which type to choose, but masons and installers should not count out concrete because it isn’t as strong. In several cases, the concrete lintels will be plenty strong enough for the project.
Installers rarely use steel lintels where they will be seen. Certain concrete lintels, like fair-faced concrete lintels, are meant to be installed in “visible” areas. These lintels can even be painted by the user or installer to match the surroundings. Some concrete lintels can even come in a range of surface finishes, to best fit in with the aesthetic of the space.
When using a professional building or masonry service, they will advise you on which type of lintel is best suited for your project. If you want to cut costs or feel a concrete lintel might work better in the space, ask your mason why they made the choice that they did.