A wide flange beam is nothing more than than a metal I-beam with an extra wide flange present at the top and bottom. Both types of metal beams are used in house construction, usually to support the first floor from the basement area.
Wide flange beams manufactured in the U.S. are measured in inches, while other countries will always use the metric system. A wide flange beam is designated by the letter W and then followed by the depth of the beam and the weight in linear pounds per linear foot. Standard I-beams are designated by the letter S.
One important difference between a wide flange steel beam and a standard beam is in the top and bottom surface of each flange. With wide beams the two surfaces are parallel, but in a standard sized I-beam the inner surface is sloped.
A wide flange beam is usually made from steel, though on occasion it may be constructed from aluminum for other uses such as trailers, walkways or platforms.
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