Basic Structural Elements of Building

The basic structural elements of buildings will be discussed under five subheadings including; slab, beam, column, wall and roof.


Slab is the large flat horizontal element of a building. (Pavement) and usually spans between beams or walls. Slabs can be made of wood, concrete, or interlocking blocks or bricks, although slabs made of concrete are the most common. In storey buildings, slabs are usually supported on beams or columns.


Beams are horizontal load bearing members. In its basic form, the main function of a beam is to transfer slab and wall loads to the columns. Depending on the type of building in terms of strength and materials, beams can be made of wood, concrete, reinforced concrete or steel.


Columns are the vertical load bearing members of a building and their main function is to transmit beam, slab, wall, roof, as well as live loads safely down to the foundation of the building. Depending on strength requirements and specifications, columns can be made of wood, reinforced concrete or steel.


Walls are usually vertical members and can be built of wood, bricks, blocks or concrete. Walls within a building would be constructed to have openings for doors and windows where appropriate. Walls can be load or non load bearing. A simple example of a load bearing wall is a situation where the wall directly supports the roof of a building.


Roof is the upper covering of a Building. Its main function is to protect the building from rain and heat from the sun. Roofs can either be flat or pitched.

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