The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Steel Lintels

Since lintels play such an important role in preserving a building’s integrity, it’s critical that you understand how to buy the right ones for your project. With 50 years of experience working with steel and serving as a partner for construction projects, our customers rely on us to guide them through the process of buying their materials.

We also want to help buyers like you understand your options, so you can make the right decision for your next project. So, we recently decided to take some of the most common questions we get and put together this “Buyer’s Guide to Steel Lintels.” Of course, if you would rather talk to us directly, please contact our team today. We’d be happy to answer any specific questions you have about your project.

Why Steel Lintels Are the Best Choice for Builders

Why use steel lintels, rather than lintels in general? In our experience, steel lintels are the only choice for building with reliability. 

The other lintel options, such as stone, brick, or wood lintels, are vulnerable to shifting and warping with time. Steel lintels hold their shape and resist corrosion better than the other options on the market. Galvanized steel lintels in particular have a unique chemical resistance to rust. This means that galvanized steel forms an additional, rust-resistant layer when it comes into contact with water. This creates unrivaled protection from cracking and corrosion.

So, let’s walk through the types of steel lintels available, so you can make the best choice for your upcoming project. 

Understand the Different Types of Steel Lintels

There are several types of steel lintels to choose from, each with a specific purpose. 

Angle Lintels

Angle lintels are a standard option. Shaped like a right angle, they have many uses. When you have doors and windows to reinforce, they are a great choice to provide reliable support. 

At South Atlantic, we keep a large inventory of domestic A36 angle lintels ranging from 3 x 3 x 3/16 through 6 x 4 x 3/8. We can also custom-cut the materials according to your specifications and add holes where requested.

Eave Lintels

Made to support roof construction, eave lintels are built according to the International Building Code’s standards. They intersperse flat and angled sections to best support exterior masonry veneer on sloped roof construction. At South Atlantic, we offer standard and custom sizes for different roof types and support needs.

Roll-formed Brick Lintels

Roll-formed brick lintels are specially designed to support openings in — you guessed it — brick structures. Available in either hot-dip galvanized or primed steel, they are roll-formed with two ribs for greater strength and stability. 

When you are adding doors, windows, or other openings to a structure made of the heaviest materials, solid support is necessary. That is why we at South Atlantic carefully craft our roll-formed brick lintels to offer the most robust stabilization for your brick projects.

How South Atlantic Provides Reliable Access to Standard and Specialized Lintel Sizes

We touched on the standard sizes available for steel lintels above, but there’s a few more things to note when it comes to finding lintels in the size you need for your project. Not all projects call for standard size materials, and some happen right as supply shortages and shipping delays hit.

But at South Atlantic, you can count on having both specialized and standard size steel materials when you need them! We have built strong relationships with America’s steel mills over the decades we’ve been in business. We are proud to support American companies and workers, and we are equally proud to provide reliable materials for our customers’ projects.

So whether you need a simple steel lintel you can’t find in stock anywhere else, or a custom-cut set of galvanized steel lintels with specific drill holes included, you can call us. Our direct connections with surrounding mills means we can deliver any mill-produced steel size within 10-14 days, stock or not, rather than delay your project for weeks while you wait.

Different Treatments: How Bare, Painted, and Hot-Dip Galvanized Lintels Compare

So, at this point you know what size and shape steel lintels you are looking for, but now it’s time to decide on treatments. When considering steel lintels, there are three main options: bare, painted, or hot-dip galvanized steel lintels. Here’s how they compare:

Bare Steel Lintels: Lower Cost at a High Risk

Bare lintels may seem like a tempting option at a glance, as they cost less than their treated counterparts. But, working with bare steel is risky. In most parts of the United States, bare steel lintels will degrade quickly, leaving the building vulnerable to various types of shifting and corrosion.

Without a protective coating on the steel lintels, your building is subject to oxide jacking. Oxide jacking, or rust jacking, occurs when lintel corrosion causes severe expansion, cracking, or shifting in brickwork. When this happens around an opening, the entire surrounding wall is also compromised. Not only does this cause aesthetic damage, but it can also make a building unsafe.

The other two options are a safer investment.

Painted Steel Lintels: Basic Coating for Basic Protection

Painted lintels are a small step up from bare steel. Paint technically provides a barrier against rust. However, paint requires maintenance, and most of the lintel is inaccessible after installation. Furthermore, if any part of the paint barrier is nicked or scuffed during handling or installation, it is already compromised. Because of this, rust bleed can occur within a few weeks. As this is prior to the end of the builder’s warranty, your company will be liable for damage and repairs.

There is a better option for your building projects: galvanized steel lintels.

Galvanized Steel Lintels: The Ultimate Protection for the Long-Haul

The durability and corrosion resistance of galvanized steel makes it the best choice to protect a building in perpetuity.

Using galvanized steel lintels guarantees that the structure you are building will stand the test of time. It will not experience the shifting that can make buildings unsafe. It will not start looking run-down as rust stains the outside within a couple years of the building’s completion. And years later, the entryways, openings, and walls that surround them will be just as solid as they were the week after they were built.

Where to Buy Steel Lintels

As the structural integrity of brickwork projects rests on the reliability of the steel lintels, it is important to buy them from a trusted source. South Atlantic Masonry Products keeps a large inventory of in-demand building materials in stock.

Whether you need masonry lintels, related materials, or expert advice about the best options for your project, we are one call away.

As an avid supporter of the BIA (Brick Industry Association), we hear the demands you face to get the job done right, on time, and on budget. That drives us to be the best supplier for your masonry steel needs.

Learn more about our in-house galvanizing service and why our masonry products have been trusted by masons, contractors and more for decades. We look forward to hearing from you!