I Beam Load Capacity Chart: How To Choose The Right I Beam For Your Project

IBeams The Steel Yard

When it comes to construction and engineering projects, choosing the right materials is crucial for ensuring safety and efficiency. And when it comes to structural support, I beams are one of the most commonly used materials.

But with a variety of sizes and load capacities available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right I beam for your specific project. In this article, we’ll break down the key factors you need to consider when selecting an I beam, and provide a helpful I beam load capacity chart to guide you.

What is an I Beam?

Before we dive into load capacity, let’s review what an I beam actually is. An I beam, also known as an H beam or W beam, is a structural support beam with a cross-section shaped like the letter “I”. It consists of two horizontal flanges and a vertical web in the center, which helps distribute weight evenly and support heavy loads.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an I Beam

1. Load Capacity

The most important factor to consider when choosing an I beam is its load capacity. This refers to the maximum weight that the beam can support without buckling or failing. Load capacity varies depending on the size and shape of the I beam, as well as the type of material it’s made from.

It’s crucial to choose an I beam with a load capacity that exceeds the weight of the load it will be supporting. This will ensure that the beam can handle the weight without bending or breaking, and will prevent accidents or structural failures.

2. Size and Shape

The size and shape of the I beam will also affect its load capacity. Generally, larger beams with wider flanges and thicker webs will have a higher load capacity than smaller beams. However, larger beams may also be heavier and more difficult to install.

It’s important to choose an I beam size and shape that fits your project requirements while still providing sufficient load capacity.

3. Material

I beams can be made from a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, and wood. Steel beams are the most commonly used due to their high strength and durability. However, aluminum and wood beams may be more suitable for certain projects due to their lighter weight and corrosion resistance.

When choosing an I beam material, consider factors such as cost, weight, strength, and environmental conditions.

I Beam Load Capacity Chart

Here is a helpful I beam load capacity chart to guide you in selecting the right beam for your project:

Steel I Beam Load Capacity Chart

  • 3-inch I beam: 5.7 pounds per foot (load capacity: 89.6 pounds)
  • 4-inch I beam: 7.7 pounds per foot (load capacity: 121.6 pounds)
  • 5-inch I beam: 10 pounds per foot (load capacity: 157.6 pounds)
  • 6-inch I beam: 12.5 pounds per foot (load capacity: 196 pounds)
  • 8-inch I beam: 18.4 pounds per foot (load capacity: 288.4 pounds)
  • 10-inch I beam: 25.4 pounds per foot (load capacity: 397.6 pounds)
  • 12-inch I beam: 31.8 pounds per foot (load capacity: 498.4 pounds)

Aluminum I Beam Load Capacity Chart

  • 3-inch I beam: 2.9 pounds per foot (load capacity: 45.6 pounds)
  • 4-inch I beam: 3.9 pounds per foot (load capacity: 61.6 pounds)
  • 5-inch I beam: 5 pounds per foot (load capacity: 78.4 pounds)
  • 6-inch I beam: 6.3 pounds per foot (load capacity: 99.2 pounds)
  • 8-inch I beam: 9.3 pounds per foot (load capacity: 145.6 pounds)
  • 10-inch I beam: 12.8 pounds per foot (load capacity: 201.6 pounds)
  • 12-inch I beam: 16 pounds per foot (load capacity: 251.2 pounds)

Wood I Beam Load Capacity Chart

  • 3-inch I beam: 1.7 pounds per foot (load capacity: 27.2 pounds)
  • 4-inch I beam: 2.3 pounds per foot (load capacity: 36.8 pounds)
  • 5-inch I beam: 2.9 pounds per foot (load capacity: 45.6 pounds)
  • 6-inch I beam: 3.4 pounds per foot (load capacity: 53.6 pounds)
  • 8-inch I beam: 4.9 pounds per foot (load capacity: 77.6 pounds)
  • 10-inch I beam: 6.3 pounds per foot (load capacity: 99.2 pounds)
  • 12-inch I beam: 7.5 pounds per foot (load capacity: 118.4 pounds)


Choosing the right I beam for your project is crucial for ensuring safety and efficiency. By considering factors such as load capacity, size and shape, and material, you can select an I beam that meets your project requirements while providing sufficient support.

Use the I beam load capacity chart provided in this article as a helpful guide, but be sure to consult with a structural engineer or construction professional if you have any doubts or questions about which beam to choose.

Remember, safety should always be the top priority in any construction or engineering project.

Meet Dr. David Richards, a renowned statistician and expert in the fields of education and health. Dr. Richards is an alumnus of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in statistics. Dr. Richards has made significant contributions to the field of statistics, having published numerous articles and research papers in some of the most reputable academic journals. He has also served as a consultant to several government agencies and private organizations, providing insights and analysis on various projects related to education and health. With his vast knowledge and expertise, Dr. Richards has become a trusted authority in statistical analysis. He uses his skills to produce insightful reports, often accompanied by graphics and statistics, that shed light on important issues related to education and health. Dr. Richards' work is highly regarded by his peers, with many of his research papers being cited in academic literature. He is a recipient of several awards and honors, including the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Whether it's analyzing the impact of educational policies or identifying trends in healthcare, Dr. Richards' work is always informative, engaging, and thought-provoking. He is a true expert in his field, and his research and analysis continue to shape the conversation on important issues related to education and health.

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