Difference between Beam and Column

A structure as an entire system is divided into numerous elements, primarily consisting of footings, column, beam, and slab.

A beam is a horizontal structural component that prevents vertical loads whereas columns are mainly vertical members that extend from the sub-structure to the superstructure which plays a vital role in the transfer of loads from the top of the structure to the footing.

Beam & Column:


A beam is a horizontal structural element that prevents vertical load and its mode of deflection is mainly by bending, it transfers loads are applied along their length to walls, columns, and foundations at their endpoints.

The load applied on the beam leads to reaction forces on the beam.

The general effect of all forces acting on the beam is to supply the shear forces and bending moments inside the beam that induces the inner stresses, strains and deflections.

Types of Beam:

There are several types of beam which are as follows:

  1. Simply supported beam.
  2. Overhanging beam.
  3. Metal beam.
  4. Reinforced concrete beam.
  5. Fixed-ended beam.
  6. Cantilever beam.
  7. Continuous beam.
  8. Composite beam.


The column is a vertical structural member that carries load primarily in compression, it transfers loads from a roof, slab, or beam to the ground or foundation.

Columns are often used to assist beams or arches on which the upper elements of walls or ceilings rest.

A Columns can be decorative component that is not required for structural purposes and designed to resist lateral forces.

The position of the columns needs to be provided in such a way that no tensile stress is generated at the cross-section.

The column performs an important function in the whole load transfer mechanism and without it, the construction can’t exist.

The energy of a column depends primarily on the material used, geometry, size and shape of the cross-section, length and position of the column supporting the position at each ends.

Types of Column:

There are several types of columns which are as follows:

  1. Tied Column.
  2. Spiral Column.
  3. Composite Column.
  4. Short Column.
  5. Long Column.
  6. Circular Column.
  7. L-shape Column.
  8. T-shape Column.
  9. Square or Rectangular Column.
  10. A column with Uniaxial Eccentric Loading.
  11. A column with Biaxial Eccentric Loading
Also read: Long Column & Short Column

Difference between Beam and Column:

Basis of comparison   Beam Column
DescriptionBeams are usually horizontal structural elements that carry loads vertically in their longitudinal direction.Columns are usually horizontal structural elements that carry loads parallel to their longitudinal direction.
ShapeBeams can be square, rectangular, T-shaped, I-shaped, or H-shaped.The shape of the column can be rectangular, circular, square, T-shaped, L-shaped, C-shaped, elliptical etc.
ImportanceA building cannot be constructed without a beam.A building cannot be constructed without a column.
LoadIt basically carries or resists bending and shear force.It basically carries or resists compression load.  
ClassificationThe beam is classified based on its support as that in column.Columns are classified as short columns or long columns that are based on the slender ratio.
Weight transferIt carries the slabs, floors, ceilings of a building and moves into columns.It carries the load transferred by the beam eventually transfers to the footing and the ground.
WidthThe minimum width of the beam is 200 mm.For earthquake resistance, the minimum width of the column is 200 mm; it should be 300 mm.
Longitudinal steelThe beam has longitudinal steel on two faces used to resist bending moments, while vertical loads are opposed by strips or inclined beams.The column has longitudinal steel on all faces that radically resists compression as compared with beam.
Collapse / failureThe collapse or failure of the beam does not occur suddenly without being indicated as deflection or cracking.Column collapse or failure may not necessarily show any signs that occur abruptly and may result in the collapse of the entire structure.
SupportThey are supported by columns at one end or at both ends.They are constructed directly from the foundation.
Minimum and maximum steel usageThe minimum and maximum metal used for beam is 0.2% to 2.5%, respectively.
The minimum and maximum metal used for column is 0.8% to 5% respectively.
RCC StructuresThey are usually cast with slabs therefore in RCC structures more care is taken for its concreting and curing.They are usually cast in small batches therefore concreting and curing quality are ignored in the case of RCC structures.


In short, the column is a vertical structural member, while beam is horizontal structural member.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of Constructionor.com, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

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