Types of beams, Cantilever, Simply Supported, Overhanging, Fixed, Continuous, Propped Cantilever

A lot of times, while solving structural engineering problems, we found difficulty in understanding different types of beams.

This is very crucial to understand because different types of beams have different types of internal stresses and reactions to solve.

As explained here, the three common types of connections for a beam include roller, pinned, and fixed. The fourth type called simple support is not often found in real buildings and structures.

Now in this post, I’d like to start with the very basic definition of beam.

According to Britannica here, the beam is defined as :

A solid piece of timber, spanning an opening and carrying a load that may be a brick or stone wall above the opening.

In Civil Engineering terms we can define beam as:

A beam is a long slender member, a 2d element in structure having relatively longer span than the depth. In this post i will briefly explain different types of beams.

Beam is designed to carry the bending moment and the shear forces if any. Based on the supports of the beam, Following are some of the classification of the beam.

types of beams
types of beams

Types of Beams based on supports

The following are the 6 different types of beams based on end supports or restraints:-

  1. Cantilever beam
  2. Simply Supported beam
  3. Overhanging beam
  4. Fixed beams
  5. Continuous beams
  6. Propped Cantilever beam

Cantilever Beam

A beam which is fixed at one end and free at the other end is known as cantilever beam, Or from statics point of view a beam with fixed support at one end resisting all the vertical, horizontal and bending moment produced as a result of loading of the beam and is free at the other end is cantilever beam. The beam is shown ;-

Cantilever beam with fixed supports
Cantilever beam with fixed supports

Simply Supported Beam

As the name suggests a beam which is supported or resting freely on supports at its both ends is known as simply supported beam. From mechanics point of view, a beam with both hinge support resisting horizontal and vertical forces and roller support fixing only one vertical force is known as a simply supported beam. Simply supported beam is also shown in the illustration below ;-

Simply Supported Beam
Simply Supported Beam

Such a beam can’t move horizontal or vertically but is free to rotate. It does not have any restraint avoiding rotation. It does not have any fixed support.

Practical life applications of simply supported beams with point loading include bridges, beams in buildings, and beds of machine tools.

Overhanging beam

If the end portion of the beam is extended beyond the support such a beam is known as overhanging beam.

In simple words you can say, an overhanging beam is a one that has simply supported beam when one portion overhangs the roller support.

Mostly in overhanging beam one support is Hinge support while other is roller support having one end as free like a cantilever. The shape of the beam is shown :-

Overhanging beam
Overhanging beam

Fixed Beam

A beam whose both ends are fixed or built-in walls, is known as fixed beam. A fixed beam is also known as built-in or encastred beam.  A fixed beam usually have reinforcement that is going through the beam into the column as shown.

Fixed end beams
Fixed end beams

Continuous Beams

A beam which is provided more than two supports or is continuous over more than two supports is known as continuous beam. Usually in frame structure a continuous beam is used which have both positive and negatives moments you will be able to calculate later on.

Continuous Beams
Continuous Beams

Propped Cantilever Beam

A propped Cantilever beam is a little modification of the cantilever beam, if the free end of the cantilever beam is place on a roller support than the resultant beam will be propped cantilever beam as shown ;-

Propped Cantilever Beam
Propped Cantilever Beam
Saad Iqbal
Hi there, I am Saad Iqbal from Pakistan. I am an enthusiastic blogger, passionate content creator, construction geek, and a creative graphic designer. Connect with me at my social channels.