Steel Flitch Beams

By Blaise Imbembe, E.I.T | November 16, 2022

A flitch beam is a composite beam made of steel plate(s), sandwiched between multiple plies of wood members, and then bolted together to create a single beam.

Flitch beams are very versatile and can often be tacked onto the sides of an existing beam. These beams are often used in historic renovations projects to structurally reinforce existing wood beams or in projects where beams are not strong enough to carry the load, and the removal/replacement of the existing beam may be more costly.

A big disadvantage to flitch beams is the strength-to-material costs. Often the steel flitch plate is rectangular in shape and not as structurally efficient as an I-shaped or C-shaped member. Said in another way, the costs you are spending for a rectangular steel flitch plate could be accomplished with less steel and at lower cost if it only had flanges at the top and bottom of it. For this reason alone, the flitch plated beam has declined in modern construction.

That being said, there are certain scenarios where a flitch beam is the only option. During these times, engineers need to consider how the beam would be constructed in the field, any conflicting bearing supports to account for, the bolted connection of the member, and much more.

The next time you are looking to reinforce an existing beam or looking to see what may be the most efficient, Team Engineering can get you those answers. Give us a call today!

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