A steel beam with a cross-section resembling the letter I, it is used in residential construction for long spans, such as a basement beam, and when wall and roof loads are imposed on an opening, such as over wide wall openings and double garage doors.
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An I-beam, also known as H-beam (for universal column, UC), w-beam (for "wide flange"), universal beam (UB), rolled steel joist (RSJ), or double-T (especially in Polish, Bulgarian, Spanish, Italian and German), is a beam with an I or H-shaped cross-section. The horizontal elements of the "I" are known as flanges, while the vertical element is termed the "web". I-beams are usually made of structural steel and are used in construction and civil engineering.
The web resists shear forces, while the flanges resist most of the bending moment experienced by the beam. Beam theory shows that the I-shaped section is a very efficient form for carrying both bending and shear loads in the plane of the web. On the other hand, the cross-section has a reduced capacity in the transverse direction, and is also inefficient in carrying torsion, for which hollow structural sections are often preferred.