I-beam and H-beam are similar in shape. So people keep asking about it: how to make the choice in practical application?

Even people who have worked for many years in the construction industry fail to explain in detail.

Actually, there are still some differences in their shapes. And the following content will give some details on the differences between the two kinds of beam in shape and other aspects.


I-beam Steel

As it is shown in the name, I-beam is a type of steel with a cross-section look like the character “I”.

There is a slope on the inner surface of the upper and lower flanges of it, which makes the flanges to be thin outside and thick inside. Thus, the cross-section characteristics of I-beams make a reason for its shortage of torsion resistance.

Still, I-beam remains a basic necessity for engineers and construction workers. They ae widely used in forming columns and beams of various lengths, sizes, and specifications.


H-bean Steel

H-section steel is widely used in today’s steel structure buildings. Compared with I-beams, there are many differences between them.

First of all, the flanges of the beams will make a difference, and it will be further found out that it has parallel upper and lower surfaces with no inclination inside the flange.

Secondly, the H-beam steel show advantages in its cross-section characteristic compared with traditional I-beams, channel steel, and angle steel.

Named after the alphabet “H”, H-beam steel has a cross-section shape similar to the letter. Because of this, it is economical, considering the more optimized section area distribution and the more reasonable strength-to-weight ratio it has.

The straight outside beams without a slant make the welding of it simpler. Also, its mechanical properties per unit weight is better than I-beam, thus much material and construction time can be saved. However, the direct pressure bearing and tensile -resistance of I-beam’s cross-section is better than H-beam. So they both have advantages and disadvantages.


H-beam VS I-beam: some differences gathered

  1. I-beam is smaller in length, higher in height, and can only bear the force in one direction.
  2. H-beam is deeper in the groove, larger in thickness. It is possible to withstand forces in two directions.
  3. I-beams have cross-sections with sizes higher and narrower, so its moment of inertia becomes quite different. As a result, generally, they can only be applied directly to parts with bending web plane, or form force-bearing parts of lattice-type, being limited in application.
  4. H-beam, however, due to its reasonable cross-section shape, is convenient for design and selection, making the steel function better and bear higher loads. It is also stronger in connecting high-strength bolts as well as other components.
  5. An I-beam is made by rolling or milling steel. As a result, the capacity and size of the milling equipment is the only limit of I-beams.
  6. As for an H-beam, a set of the vertical roll must be added for simultaneous rolling, thus it requires more complicated rolling process and equipment than normal rolling mill. Take the situation in China, for example, if the height of the rolled H-beam is over 800mm, then welding is required.



Author's Bio: 

Hazel Sansbury is a content writer and a copywriter specializes in Fitness, Health, and Legal writing.