How to Brace Beams

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Smart builders learned long ago that bracing is required to build the strongest beam possible. Beams are a consideration with any construction project, often used to support heavy loads. Bracing can more evenly distribute weight at crucial points and thereby reduce beam failure potential. Basically, beams are braced either with "Y" supports or attached cleats. Check local building codes to confirm what your area says is proper, sufficient bracing, and what is not.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Circular saw
  • Miter saw
  • Lag bolts and washers
  • Ratchet and socket
  • Apply a Y-brace to a beam by taking a measurement on the beam at 24 inches from the center of the support post upon which the beam rests. Mark this measurement on both sides of the beam and mark the same 24 inches vertically on the post. Place the mark at 24 inches from the top of the post, not the top of the beam.

  • Hold the bracing timber centered on the marks, and mark the braces to be sawed and bolted into place. Use a miter or radial saw to saw the braces at 45 degrees on both ends. Be sure to cut the bracing so both ends face the beam and post they are meant to support.

  • Use 8-penny nails to temporarily tack the brace into place. Use a drill and wood bit to drill pilot holes to accept the lag screws or bolts. Insert and tighten the lag screws or bolts to permanently affix the braces to the beams and support posts.

  • Brace a beam with cleats by first measuring down 18 inches across the beam and down the support post. Make the mark 1 inch from the top edge of the beam. Take the same measurement on both sides of the beam and support post.

  • Use a circular saw to cut two 18-inch, 2-by-4 cleats, one for each side of the post. Temporarily nail the cleats to each side of the post on the marks made in the previous step.

  • Mark four holes onto the cleats as you hold them in place on the beam and support post on both sides. Drill holes into the wood cleat, support post and beam, again on both sides. Be careful to avoid any metal post caps as you drill the holes for the carriage bolts.

  • Space the holes evenly with two in the post and two in the beam being braced. Attach the cleats permanently using 1/2-inch diameter carriage bolts. Tighten the bolts securely.

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