By Ciaran McAliskey, Specification Executive at Keystone Lintels
So, you’ve got your plans from the architect. You’ve chosen your builder. You’ve dealt with the legalities. Now comes the exciting part: getting that new home built. But with hundreds of decisions to be made, it’s important to be armed with all the right information to create a home that fits your requirements. A steel lintel is just one of those many products you will have to think about when building your home, but why do you need one and what needs to be considered?
Many homeowners or renters often don’t realise they walk in under a steel lintel every day. A steel lintel is a crucial element of any home. Thankfully, your architect will likely be on hand to advise what you need, but if you are operating more independently and need support, Keystone can provide you with the right technical knowhow. The architect will have factored in the necessary requirements and may have thought about thermal benefits or airtightness in relation to your home as lintels contribute to this. You may be surprised by the fact that steel lintels can be used as an alternative or in conjunction with solar panels or heat pumps to increase energy efficiency.
A lintel is also something to consider when you want something aesthetically pleasing to the eye or more bespoke to your requirements. This could be a lintel designed in a Gothic or Venetian Style, for example. But how do you know what you need?
Choosing the correct lintel
The primary function of a lintel is to support the load above it across openings such as windows or doors. We usually follow three steps in choosing the correct lintel:
- What is the span of the lintel?
This refers to the span between the walls where the opening is. We then add 150mm extra to either side of the opening to aid stability.
- What is the wall construction type?
What depth are the walls in the build, commonly referred to as the cavity size? Knowing this allows us to provide the correct lintel for the type of house. A timber frame home will require a different lintel to a home with solid walls. It also allows the lintel to work alongside other products such as insulation to make sure the building is airtight and thermally efficient.
- What weight does that lintel need to carry?
It’s important to remember that lintels throughout your new home may have different jobs. The weight they carry is very important as they may be supporting a second storey, a concrete floor, or your roof for example. It’s therefore crucial to know what it needs to do.
By determining these three factors it allows the correct lintel to be chosen. An architect’s drawings will have this information for us to refer to unless the builder makes any changes on site.
Ordering Your Lintel
You will find across all areas of the building trade some increased lead and delivery times. This is mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected global supply chains and the availability of raw materials. The best advice we could give you, no matter what you are purchasing, is:
- Make a list
Consult your builder and go through what items you need. They should be able to give you a good idea of when you should be ordering certain products, or take this out of your hands altogether.
- Get your enquiries in
The sooner we have your plans, the sooner we can provide a specification and a suitable quote. We need a full set of working drawings and contact details for you or your builder to ensure we provide the most accurate specification for your home. You can liaise with our local Area Sales Manager who can provide support or make a visit to your site.
We’ll never order something until we’ve consulted you first. We will send back what you need, confirm the loads your lintels are carrying and let you confirm if you want to go ahead. On occasion, we may conduct site visits to check the dimensions on those bespoke lintels. You can’t buy direct from us so please make sure you or your builder have an account with a local builder’s merchant in order to purchase lintels.
- Production and delivery
If your home requires something quite straightforward, delivery will be made in a matter of days. If your new home is equipped with a stunning sunroom or corner lintel to make a real statement feature, then this will require a bespoke approach from us. We’ll make a lintel specifically for you so this may take a little more time. When the lintel arrives, we’ll provide any further support you may need.
For anyone going down the self-build route, being prepared is crucial. Ordering and choosing a lintel for your home should be as straightforward as possible as it is only one of a number of products you need to consider across that build time. It’s why it’s important to receive the necessary service.
The final piece of advice is to always allow time and don’t leave things until the last minute. There are countless factors that may come into play to may delay the smooth running of your build. If you and your builder work well together, this should work in your favour. That sought-after finish line is on the horizon.
For more information about Keystone’s standard lintels or a bespoke design service for special lintels visit Keystone Lintels or contact
T: 028 8676 2184