Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
1. A supporting wood or stone beam across the top of an opening, such as that of a window or door or fireplace
2. The historical definition has changed: "A lintel is a decorative moulding used as an added accent above doors, windows and fireplaces. Add lintels to stock boards for a distinctive look." is an Internet ad in September 2018.
Found on almost all types of architecture. Essential element in post-and-lintel support system.
Construction materials: Timber ... Stone ... Brick ... Steel ... Reinforced concrete ... Reinforced brick ... Cast iron
Found over portals, doors, windows and fireplaces.
Types of lintels: Rectangular lintels ... Keystone lintels ... Paneled lintels ... Chamfered lintels .... Splayed lintels
Chamfered lintel: The partial bottom edge is beveled or angled off, usually at a 45 degree angle
Splayed lintel: A horizontal lintel above a window or doorway which slants downward toward the centerline; often containing a keystone at its center.
See also: Post and lintel system ... architraveLabel molding is NOT a support lintel
Lintels are structural elements that allow to create the openings in masonry walls. In the past the width of wall openings was limited to the length of available materials, as seen in the example of single-stone lintels. The invention of masonry arch allowed to extend the span of used lintels.
The properties of arch lintels were studied mostly by the Romans. However, the invention was not made by them. The first arch lintels were created by ancient Greeks around 1st century B.C. The longest lintels found in Greece were 6 m in span. Development of technique and knowledge allowed Romans to extended the span up to 40 m. Invention of arch lintels allowed to introduce elements that carry compressive stresses reducing the influence of tensile stresses.
- Procedia Engineering, "Comparison of Brick Lintels Types for their Durability Effect" (Online Sept. 2018)
Openings for doors, windows or cupboards etc, must be bridged over by some means to support the masonry above. The support to the load above the opening is usually given by providing an arch or a lintel. Lintel acts like a beam and transfers the vertically to the supporting walls. The end of lintel are built into the masonry so as to convey the weight carried by them to the masonry in jambs. The amount of bearing which the supports provide for the ends of lintel is an important factor.
- The Passionate Seeker, Classification of Lintels Used in Building Construction (online Sept. 2018)
Examples from Buffalo architecture:
- Illustration above: Splayed lintel - Hull House
- Splayed brick lintel with keystone - Engine #15 Fire Station
- Splayed lintel - Buffalo Zoo Elephant House
- Keystone lintel - Buffalo Zoo Elephant House
- Rectangular lintel - Huntley House
- Rectangular lintel - Jewett M. Richmond House -
- Paneled lintel - Williams-Pratt House
- Paneled lintel - Mount St. Joseph's School
- Paneled lintel - 172 Linwood Ave.
- Paneled lintel - Pomeroy House