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Craig Mason
Engineering Manager
Asked a question last year

What are the functions of Arches and Lintels?

What are the functions of Arches and lintels? Give relative merits and demerits of lintel over arches?

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A lintel is a horizontal member that has been placed across an opening to support the structure above it.

An Arch is a structure which is constructed to span across an opening. This, usually, consists of small wedge-shaped units, joined together with mortar.

The main function of arch or lintel is to support the loads of a portion of the wall above the openings and to transmit such load to ends of walls/ piers/ columns over; they are supported.

Lintels are easy to construct, but for arch, exceptional centering or formwork is required.

However, arches are mainly used when loads are heavy; span is more, and special architectural appearance is required.

It depends a bit on what you mean by arches and lintels. In truth, they both are very different, but often arches are used for the same purpose as lintels.

Arches are curved structures fixed joined to either the ground or another structural member. They only carry compressive forces; however, they may be loaded because of their shape and orientation. Their first use actually dates back to the Roman Empire times. Back then, they didn’t know how to handle tensile loads. So they came up with this brilliant thing called an arch that converts all loads to compressive loads against which stones etc. were fairly good.

Lintels are a type of structural member placed like a beam just above an opening (door, window, ventilator) so as to carry the load of the wall above the opening.

Now, coming back to your question, arches are also often used for the same purpose as lintels. But I think for that, lintels are a better option because :

  • Arches need more headroom to span an opening because of the curve.
  • Stronger abutments or end joints are needed by arches.
  • Lintels are easier to construct.
  • For arches, all windows on a floor would have to be lined horizontally.

But, arches could have their own advantages :

  • They can take horizontal loads better than lintels designed for the same situation.
  • They can also span a huge opening without much increase in thickness. Lintels in turn would have to be built deeper as beams are with increasing span length.
  • Arches are aesthetically more pleasing.

The function of the arch arc lintel is to carry the weight of the structure above the opening.

Advantage of lintel over arches:-

1. Their formwork is inexpensive.

2. Easy to construct.

3. They are looking simple but carry load evenly without failure.

4. No skilled labor required.

Disadvantage of lintel over arches:-

1. Lintel is looking simple, so it will not give an architectural look.

What are the functions of Arches and Lintels?

Arches and lintels:

Let’s discuss firstly, the definition of arch and lintel.

1) Definition:

  • Arch: Arch is one of the structure that consists of a curved top on two supports that holds the weight of something above it. ( construction materials are wood, stone, steel, brick and concrete)
  • Lintel: lintel is also a structure which is horizontally made up from Timber stone concrete or steel across the top of a door or window.

Now coming toward the function of above both terms.

2) Function:

    A) Arch :

  • To sustain the weight of the structure above the opening
  • In case of the arch, because of a special type of block, the blocks can support each other by providing mutual pressure of their own weight as well as the structure remain in positions by resistance from the support.
  • A special type of centrum devices are ntial for better finishing

     B) lintel :

  • Specially lintels are provided over windows are connected to a Sunshadeto provide ade and shelter
  • Centring for lintel are much simpler as compare than that of the the the arch.

3) Merits of Arch over lintel :

  1. An arch can definitely sustain a higher amount of load than usual, a horizontal beam can support
  2. In masonry construction, Arches have great advantages over the simplest horizontal beam known as lintels.
  3. Arches may rest on light supports but lintels can’t.
  4. Because of the higher loading capacity of Arch, the pressure downward on an Arc has the effect of forcing the voussoirs together instead of apart.

Function of Lintel :- A lintel is one type of beam which is used to support the above wall when openings like doors, windows, etc. are necessary to provide a building structure. The main function of the lintel is to take loads coming from above wall and transfer its load to the side walls. Function of Arches :- The arches of the foot, formed by the tarsal and metatarsal bones, strengthened by ligaments and tendons, allow the foot to support the weight of the body in the erect posture with the least weight.