Beam and column are the two important structural elements in constructions. Both the members are designed to transfer the load from superstructure to the substructure.

Beam is a horizontal or inclined member that runs between supports and transfer the loads to the columns, while column is a vertical or inclined member that supports the compressive loads from the structure and  transfers them to the foundation.

Now we will discuss some of the major differences of beam and column.

beam and column difference

Beam Vs Column

sno                Beam                  column
1A horizontal member that transfer loads on to their supports than to columnA vertical member that supports the compressive loads and transfers to the foundation
2Loads act perpendicular to the longitudinal axisLoads act parallelr to the longitudinal axis
3Resists bending moment and shear forceCarries compressive loads
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5Designed using different materials like wood, steel,composite,concrete etcDesigned using different materials like wood, steel,composite,concrete etc
6Its shape can be rectangular, circular, I,C,L .etcIts shape can be t-shape, c- shape, L-shape .etc
7It transfers load from slab, ceiling, floors etc to the columns.It takes load transferred from the beam to the footings
8.classified into different types based on their shape, support condition, cross-section, and its functions.classified into different types based on their shape, cross-section, slenderness ratio, and load distribution
9Cantilever beam, simply supported beam, fixed beam, timber beam,I-section, C-section, etcEx. long column,short column, tie column, spiral column, t-shape,L-shape , precast etc
10Longitudinal steel in RCC Beam is on two faces which is used to resist bending moment while the vertical loads are resisted by stirrups or inclined beamLongitudinal steel in the RCC Column is on all faces which basically resists compression.
11Building can be constructed without beamBuilding cannot be constructed without the column
12casted with slab and hence greater care is observed for its concreting and curing in case of RCC structures.casted in small batches and hence quality of concreting as well as curing ignored in case of RCC structures
13The failure of the beam will not happen suddenly. Depending upon the reason for its failure, it will give  warning in form of deflection, cracking and one can tackle its failure or will get some time to tackle the failure.The failure for columns sometimes does not give adequate warning and may happen suddenly, and may lead to collapse of the entire structure and hence column are very important element and no compromise should be made in its design, size, reinforcement, quality of concrete, curing etc.
Difference between beam and column

Advantages and disadvantages of a columns over a beam

Beam and column are two essential structural elements in construction. They differ in terms of traits, forms, and purposes.

Depending on the limits and requirements for the design, they also have various advantages and disadvantages. Engineers and architects can make the best decision for their projects by knowing the differences between a beam and a column.

FAQ – Beam and Column Difference

What are the three main parts of the column?


The base is the lowest part of the column that rests on the foundation or the floor. It is usually wider than the shaft to provide stability and prevent overturning. 

The shaft is the main part of the column that extends from the base to the capital. It is usually cylindrical, but it can also have other shapes, such as square, polygonal, or tapered.

The capital is the upper part of the column that connects the shaft to the roof or the beam. It is usually decorated with various motifs, such as leaves, scrolls, or volutes.

What is a false column in construction?

A false column is a decorative element that resembles a structural column but does not support any load. False columns are often used to create symmetry, enhance aesthetics, or conceal pipes or wires in a building.

What is a dummy column?

A column that does not carry or transfer any loads is called a dummy column. It is only designed for aesthetic purposes.

What is the difference between a false column and a non-load bearing wall?

False columns should not be confused with non-load-bearing walls. Non-load-bearing walls are partitions that separate spaces but do not carry any weight. Non-load-bearing walls can be removed or modified without affecting the stability of the structure, while false columns are usually fixed and integrated into the design of the building.

Some of them are:

  •  Column can support higher loads than the beam and reduce the number of supports needed.
  • Column can resist buckling and axial forces better than the beam.
  •  Column can be more stable and rigid than the beam in structure.
  • A well designed column adds beauty to the structure,while a beam cannot play such a role.
load calculation for beam and column
  • Beams can span longer distances than columns and create more open spaces.
  • Beams can resist bending and shear forces better than columns.
  • Beams can be more flexible and adaptable than columns in design and construction.

In the next article we will discuss in detail the types of the columns and their functions.

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