What is a brick lintel?

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What is a brick lintel?
Brick lintels extend past the opening and support the weight directly above. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A brick lintel is a structural component, like a beam, that is placed horizontally over an opening such as a window to support the weight of the wall above it. Lintels are also used over doors and archways. They're often used as aesthetic elements in addition to carrying structural loads.

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Brick lintels are typically made using bricks and mortar. For arches, a wood frame called a centring is used. This frame is removed once the lintel is made and the mortar is set. If the curve radius is large enough, regular bricks are used, but in small or tight openings, the bricks have to be tapered to achieve the arch required.


Lintels extend past the opening they cover, overlapping the wall on each side. The walls help to support the lintel. Brick lintels are typically made as a single system of bricks that are installed so that they jut out slightly from the wall. They are visually different from the brick around them and may be designed in different ways.


A major factor in the use of brick lintels is their aesthetic appeal. Typically lintels are designed in three styles depending on the support needs and preferences of the builder.

A soldier course brick lintel is a type of lintel arranged in either a single row or multiple rows of bricks. These are placed on their ends, side by side.

A jack arch is similar to a soldier course, with the bricks positioned on their ends, but it is rounded slightly in an arch. The bricks in this type of lintel are given a slight angle which creates a slope at the ends.

Another arched design is the stretcher arch, which consists of several rows of bricks laid on their sides so that their length runs the same direction as the length of the wall. These are almost horizontal in appearance, and a wooden panel is often used to fill in the space between the top of the window frame and the bottom of the lintel's arch.

Additional Support

Brick lintels may be formed using only the brick and mortar or by using reinforcing metal or posts. Reinforced lintels use a hidden metal reinforcement material, such as expanded metal, wire, lattice or strips. These may be galvanised or stainless steel. Soldier course or other brick lintels where the bricks are positioned on their ends are not suitable for reinforcement because there are no horizontal layers of mortar to place the metal into. For these types of lintels, posts or rods are used as reinforcements. Post-tensioned brick lintels are made using bricks that usually have three holes in them. A threaded steel rod is inserted through these holes and a plate is placed on the bar and is secured to the brick with nuts. Once the mortar has set, the nuts are further tightened so that the lintel can support the load above it, which enables you to have a soldier course appearance without visible supports.

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