Post and Beam Construction
Post and beam construction is rooted in architectural history as far back as the Roman Empire. In fact, Stonehenge itself is a post and beam structure. So are the interiors of both Egyptian and Greek temples. Most of these historical structures were constructed using stone post and beams. Over time, wooden beams began replacing the stone because wood required fewer supports which allowed for larger interior spaces without interruption.
Post and beam construction is the simplest example of load and support construction – two upright columns or posts supporting a horizontal rafter or beam. This type of construction is the basis of all structural openings from doors to windows, from ceilings to roofs.
While surviving as one of the simplest forms of lad and support construction, the post and beam system has undergone recognizable changes over time without veering far from the original concept. The most obvious change is in material. From stone to wood, wood to metal, metal to reinforced concrete and back again, the materials for building have gotten stronger, and for the most part, lighter over time.
Post material must be strong in compression and be able to support its load without buckling. Both wood and metal have proven excellent for this job. The beam, in turn, must bear the weight of the load that rests upon it whether it is a floor ceiling or roof. Steel and wood have far outperformed stone in this position due to their strength in bending. This bow-strength allows for much greater spans which in turn allow for larger openings. Modern construction has taken great advantage of this property of wood enabling construction of buildings of varying shape, size, and length.
Much modern construction in both steel and concrete is based on the post and beam system as well. This includes most modern skyscrapers across the world. The original concept has, however, changed over time. While post and beam used to be two separate pieces, they have now become one single unit allowing for the stressed to be evenly distributed throughout.
This uni-body construction of the original post-and beam unit has led the way towards pre-engineered and prefabricated home panels and units allowing for home construction to occur much more quickly and efficiently.