Thank you for voting us "Best Foundation Repair Company" in Virginia Beach & Chesapeake!

Thank you for voting us "Best Foundation Repair Company" in Virginia Beach & Chesapeake!

Close this search box.

What Is the Difference between a Beam and a Girder?

beam vs girder
beam vs girder
ByMariel McClung
Table of Contents

As homeowners, we often encounter terms and concepts that seem interchangeable at first glance. Two of these terms, which frequently surface during construction discussions or home renovation shows, are “beam” and “girder.” Although they’re both integral parts of a building’s structure, beams and girders have distinct roles that are foundational—quite literally—to the integrity of any home.

In this post, we will dissect the differences between a beam and a girder, demystifying the language of construction so you can better understand the skeleton of your home. Whether you’re eyeing a new construction project, planning a renovation, or simply aiming to bolster your home improvement vocabulary, this article is your starting block for a firmer grasp on the framework that holds your house together.

How Are Beams And Girders Different From Each Other?

Both beams and girders are elements that support a structure’s load. They work similarly to each other because they both support weight, but there are some differences in how they are used when you compare beams vs girders directly.

  • Loads: Beams support the structure’s weight, such as the weight of the roof, slabs, and walls. A girder is often put in place to support the load of smaller beams, so it becomes the primary support structure for the building.
  • Flexibility: Beams may bend to a limited extent. They redistribute the load of the structure over a wider area. Girders are rigid, which allows them to support the beams.
  • Size: Beams come in different sizes. Girders also come in various sizes, but since they support the beams, they tend to be larger than the beams used on the structure.
  • Support: Beams may be able to bend to support the weight of the structure. Girders are rigid and give support to the beams.

Signs Of Beam Or Girder Problems

Since beams and girders make up the primary support of a building, any problems with these elements will be a structural issue. When those problems occur, various signs may show throughout the house. Identifying those problems alerts you to the need to have repairs done.

  • Sagging or Sloping Floors: When you have beam or girder problems in the basement or crawlspace, the floors are often the first to show signs of the issue. This is due to a lack of support. You may not be able to see a problem with a sloping floor, but you can often feel it. Many homeowners feel like they are stumbling as they walk across the room.
  • Separating Walls and Floors: As the floor sags and shifts, you might notice signs of the walls and floors separating. This is not a cosmetic problem. Repairs to the foundation must take place.
  • Wall Cracks: The drywall might crack due to the stress on the house’s frame. Watch for cracks that are larger or expand. The cracks may also travel from the wall and continue on the ceiling.
  • Spongy Floors: The floors may feel spongy as you walk on them due to a lack of support from the beams and girders underneath them. Spongy floors may be isolated in the area where the beam and girder issue is occurring.
  • Shaking Furniture: Since the floors are not getting the support they need from the beams and girders, you may hear nearby furniture shaking as you walk across the room.
  • Sticking Windows and Doors: Stress on the home’s frame due to beam and girder problems can cause the door and window frames to get out of square. As a result, the windows and doors may stick when they open and close.

Signs of Beam or Girder Problems

What Causes Beam And Girder Problems?

Beams and girders form the support structure for many homes but are also prone to problems. There are numerous reasons why these issues could occur, including the following:

  • Lack of Support: If the support structure of the home is resting on soil that cannot support it adequately, problems will eventually occur.
  • Water: Excess water in the basement, crawlspace, and surrounding soil can cause issues with the beams and girders. The underlying issue must be addressed if you see water in the basement or crawlspace. That problem leading to the water intrusion must be fixed before the beams and girders are fixed.
  • Construction: Sometimes, the floor system isn’t constructed correctly, leading to issues with the beams and girders. This problem may not be easy to identify at first. Over time, the weight of the structure can lead to these issues. In addition, if there aren’t enough floor joists installed, sagging may occur.

How To Repair Beam And Girder Problems

Problems with the beams and girders in your home are stressful, but options are available for repair.

Beams and girders make up the primary support structure for many homes. There are differences between these two structural elements and the benefits they provide.

The first step in the process is to have a professional foundation inspection. A foundation inspection is more than a glance at what’s under the home. A foundation repair specialist will come to your home and take a careful look at the problem. The inspection would include the foundation and any other issues, such as sagging floors or standing water in the basement.

Water must be removed if it leads to an issue with the beams and girders. Simply pumping the water out of the basement or crawlspace is only a temporary fix. Further repair options are needed, such as installing a drain tile system and sump pump. Exterior repairs may also be required, such as downspout extensions and yard grading.

Additional support may also be needed to keep the issue from progressing and to fix the damage that has already occurred. The screw jacks and posts may need to be removed and replaced. Screw jacks work well in a crawl space, as they install quickly and support the weight of the floor.

If you are experiencing problems with your foundation, contact AMC911 for a foundation inspection and repair estimate. We would be happy to help.


Mariel McClung

Mariel McClung is AMC911’s Vice President and full-time mother. Mariel studied Marketing at The College of William & Mary and is the operational brain behind AMC911.

Recent Posts

Need an estimate?

Get one for free

made in usa
home advisor
google review