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How thick should support columns be?

by Manage My Life
April 26th, 2007

How thick should a support column be to keep them from buckling?

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The thickness columns is a function of their height and loading. Steel columns (lally columns) are typically 3 inches or more in diameter with a wall thickness of about 3/16 of an inch. Standard top and bottom bearing plates are four inches by four inches by 1/4 inch thick. Larger top bearing plates may be required to support wood beams.

Built-up wood columns should be bolted together with 2 bolts every 16 inches, typically, or nailed together with 2 nails every 12 inches. The bottom of wood columns should not directly contact concrete. Round wood columns should be 7 1/4 inch diameter, minimum, typically. Square solid wood columns should be 6 inches by 6 inches minimum.

Hollow masonry columns should be at least 12 by 12 inches or 10 by 16 inches. Round concrete columns should be 9 inch diameter, minimum, and square concrete columns should be 8 inches by 8 inches, minimum.

Multistory houses or large concentrated loads require larger columns. Columns may buckle if they are too slender.

In some cases, a mason's level is helpful to determine whether a column is buckling, although usually it is visible. Reinforcing wood columns to prevent buckling is usually easy, as long as the movement has not been great.
by Manage My Life
April 26th, 2007
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