What is a Box Beam?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Box beams are beams that are created using sections of lumber, along with plywood sheets. Metal versions are often made using lengths of forged metal along with some type of metal coating or sheeting for additional strength. Unlike a solid beam, a box beam is hollow on the inside. This often means that the box girder or beam is not necessarily as sturdy as a solid beam composed of wood or metal.


Creating a box beam is a relatively simple task. Four lengths of lumber, such as planks, are joined to create a box design. The four sides of the box are secured in place using nails and wood glue. Once the beam is assembled, it can be mounted on a ceiling, used as a support for a porch roof, or a number of other practical and decorative applications.

While not as strong as a solid beam, the box beam does have several practical advantages. One has to do with the weight of the finished beam. Because the beam section is hollow, it is often easier to move into position. This makes it ideal for many situations where a solid beam is not really required.

Another advantage to the box beam is that it can be assembled on-site, rather than being manufactured at a remote location and transported to the site. This benefit makes the box beam a favorite in the construction of homes and similar buildings. Since the lumber can be cut to fit the exact specifications, then assembled into the box beam design, there is less waste of wood in the construction process. Thus, the builder saves money on materials, and is able to be more competitive when quoting a price on a construction project.

The box beam is also a practical solution when the look of a beam is required, but the beam will not be considered a major weight-bearing element within the space. For example, adding a box beam design to a home during renovation may be purely decorative in nature. Since the structure already has elements within the design that bear weight, the addition of the beams to a den or other room in the home simply makes it easier to create the right atmosphere in a room with a more rustic or country feel.

Because a box beam is assembled from individual components, it is possible to construct the beam as a more or less square device, or go for a rectangular design. In terms of appearance, the beams can be painted any color that will fit into the general design idea. When the beam is constructed with wood products, it is also possible to stain and seal the device once it is assembled. This allows the natural beauty of the wood grain to be enhanced, a trait that is likely to work well when the décor is casual.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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