A practical guide to Structural Lintels and Bearings

Constructing openings in walls mean that lintels are a potential weak spot. Defects caused by failing lintels can be complicated and difficult to rectify. We have outlined technical pointers to ensure your build doesn’t suffer from these problems.

Lintel bearings

  • Construct a full masonry unit immediately below lintel ends. Do not use off-cuts of bricks or blocks.
  • Ensure the lintel is level and is bedded in mortar.
  • The length of lintel bearings must be no less than 100mm with the manufacturers recommendations for minimum end bearing followed on all occasions.

Certain lintels may need to be propped during construction.

Where pre-stressed and reinforced concrete lintels are used:

  • For concrete lintels, the lintel must be built in with the reinforcement in the correct orientation. Concrete lintels typically include a marker cast into the lintel, in order to indicate the correct installation orientation of the lintel.
  • It is considered good practice to prop steel composite lintels at centres not exceeding 1.2m during the construction of masonry above. The manufacturers requirements for the propping of lintel during construction must be followed, at all times.
  • Masonry should be carefully built with solidly filled joints.
  • Exposed faces of lintels must be provided with fire protection
  • Avoid point loads immediately above a lintel unless proven by a structural engineer.

Section 6 of our technical manual provides more information on lintels.

Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.

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