A rethink on lintels
Over the years, lintels, despite being less talked about, have dictated many aspects of structures and elevation
Minimising material consumption is among the basics of eco-friendly designs. Equally well, it may mean replacing one material by another which could be more effective and less energy consuming. On an overall basis, costs and volumes involved with lintels may not appear very high, hence most builders follow the standard practice. However, the alternative ideas here can not only save time, but create new kind of looks as well.
No plastered bands
Most designers would like to see their stone-walled building not to have RCC plastered bands created by the lintel and RCC slabs. To this end, a thinner version of RCC lintel is cast to be clad by stone on its elevation face, to get an all-stone look.
Where stone slabs are abundantly available, directly placing a stone slab on the opening and then continuing with regular stone masonry is equally popular and most often less costly. In such cases, the stone should be carefully chosen with hopefully no fault line or weak points. Both ideas ensure complete stone looks.
Niche, but not a loft
Creating a wall niche or a shallow shelf within the wall has been around for a long time, offering a practical solution to storage in an attractive way.
Lintel is needed here too, but only for half the internal wall. Often there would be a narrow 2′ wide opening, with very little weight to be borne from above. All such minimal cases can be managed even by two rods kept atop the niche or arched lintels in brick or stone.
The internal loft or storage slab below ceiling level is at the same height as the lintel, hence the two are merged with each other structurally. While casting concrete lofts has been a common practice, we have also realised that they can be dispensed with. When a wardrobe gets fixed to the wall side, the plywood plank at 7′ level, just above the shutter, acts like a loft slab. It may not be able to take all the weights a concrete slab can take, but then none of us can lift such weights even to keep them there! In a household case, most items that go into a loft can be managed by a wooden plank. In case we expect very heavy items, there could be just one concrete loft, or better still, a ground-level storage option.
Key points to note
In kitchens too, with the cooking platform below, lifting heavy items for storage above never happens. With modern options available for kitchen shelf designs, the RCC loft cast at a fixed height can more or less cause trouble fixing other modular units. As such, avoiding concrete lofts saves money and labour.
Over the years, lintels, despite being less talked about, have dictated many aspects of structures and elevation. We realise that the idea of 7′ level, which determines varied issues from human scale to cut-size wood, loft heights to chajja levels and feasibility of arches to air trap zones, is something we just cannot ignore!