The subject of lintels has been a topic I have often covered on DGB. It’s a product that has significant importance to the structural integrity of any building. Yet, in the world of replacement windows and doors, it remains an area where the humble lintel is often ignored. How wrong that it.
The importance of lintels
I am sure all of you reading this will understand the importance of lintels when it comes to window and door installation. Without them, it is the window and door frame which is supporting the brickwork, which is clearly never a good thing. But it frustrates me, as I see on my rounds and visiting customers, how many windows and doors are replaced which obviously have no lintel above taking the strain.
You can spot the windows which are struggling. Often with a bow in the middle of the frame. The next twelve courses of brick work above have a triangular shaped crack weaving it’s way up. You know that the minute that window is replace, the whole face of that wall will start to move down in a very quick fashion. It’s at that point you find out your cowboys from your professionals.
For us here, any window or door without a lintel has them put in, it’s as simple as that. Even if we cannot tell if there is one there or not, we price for them as a precaution, and then if we discover they are there and are not required, that price is then removed.
Our attitude is not universal however. Often, when we’re on appointments with home owners, we find we are the only ones to bring up the subject of lintels. You can tell, because the home owner’s face changes, or they tell you. The problem you then get is trying convince them that these lintels you’re talking about aren’t just a money making tactic and they they are in fact vital to the whole installation. Some take it on board, some don’t.
Fit them regardless
Remember when lintels were actually a feature of architecture. Take a look at some of the 100+ year old terraced houses near you. I can guarantee that all the windows and doors will have great big stone lintels, some with carved features and decorative detail. We used to make a feature out of something which in fact was pretty boring. But it make a real difference to how the property looked.
I personally wouldn’t mind going back to those days. Obviously costs dictate the way new-build properties install lintels. They all have angle iron lintels that only show that sliver of silver. But perhaps if we started to be a bit more creative with lintels, made a point of them, got creative with them, then perhaps that interest will help educate others about their importance.
Either way, they have to be fitted regardless. I am not sure on the current laws as trying to make any sense out of the Government’s Build Regs PDF’s is a nightmare. However, as good practise and to ensure a smooth installation, just fit them. They’re not a lot of money and long term it is better for you and better for the home owner.