Solid brickwork over the head of openings has to be supported by either a lintel or an arch. The brickwork which the lintel or arch has to support is an isosceles triangle with 60° angles, formed by the bonding of bricks, as illustrated in Fig. 89. The triangle is formed by the vertical joints between bricks which overlap ±B. In a bonded wall if the solid brickwork inside the triangle were taken out the load of the wall above the triangle would be transferred to the bricks of each side of the opening in what is termed ‘the arching effect’.
Lintel is the name given to any single solid length of timber, stone, steel or concrete built in over an opening to support the wall over it, as shown in Fig. 89. The ends of the lintel must be built into the brick or blockwork over the jambs to convey the weight carried by the lintel to the jambs. The area of wall on which the end of a lintel bears is termed its bearing at ends. The wider the opening the more weight the lintel has to support and the greater its bearing at ends must be to transmit the load it carries to an area capable of supporting it. For convenience its depth is usually made a multiple of brick course height, that is about 75 mm, and the lintels are not usually less than 150 mm deep.