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Bradfords have been supplying i-joists to the building trade for many years.  Our team of expert advisors can help you decide exactly what size and specification you need before arranging the manufacturing and delivery of your i-joists.




What Are i-Joists?

I-joists, also known as "engineered wood I-joists" or "I-beams," are a type of structural component used in construction for framing floors and roofs. They are designed to provide strength, stability, and cost-efficiency, making them a popular alternative to traditional solid wood joists. I-joists have a distinctive "I" shape when viewed in cross-section, similar to the letter "I," hence their name.

The Benefits of I-Joists

Composite Construction: I-joists are typically constructed by combining two major components - a vertical web made of oriented strand board (OSB), plywood, or laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and horizontal flanges made of solid wood (typically spruce, pine, or fir). The web and flanges work together to create a strong and lightweight structural member.

Strength-to-Weight Ratio: I-joists are engineered to provide excellent strength-to-weight ratios, making them capable of supporting heavy loads while minimizing the amount of material required. This feature allows for longer spans between supports, reducing the need for additional columns or load-bearing walls in a building.

Consistency: I-joists are manufactured to precise specifications, ensuring consistent quality and dimensions. This predictability makes it easier for builders to work with them and results in a more stable and level structure.

Resistance to Warping and Twisting: I-joists are less prone to warping, twisting, and shrinking compared to traditional solid wood joists, which can lead to more even and stable floors and roofs.

Wide Range of Sizes: I-joists are available in various depths, flange widths, and lengths, allowing for flexibility in design and accommodating a variety of construction needs.

Openings for Utilities: I-joists often have precut holes or knockouts in the web to accommodate plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC ducts, making it easier to install these systems in residential and commercial buildings.

Sustainability: Engineered wood products, including I-joists, are often considered more environmentally friendly than solid lumber because they make efficient use of wood resources. The manufacturing process minimizes waste and uses smaller, fast-growing trees, reducing the impact on old-growth forests.

Are There Any Disadvantages to i-Joists?

While I-joists offer numerous advantages, they also come with some potential disadvantages that should be considered in construction projects:

Sensitivity to Moisture: I-joists are typically made with an oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood web, which can be susceptible to moisture damage if not adequately protected during construction or if exposed to prolonged moisture. Moisture can cause swelling, warping, or even structural degradation, so proper waterproofing and ventilation measures are essential to prevent these issues.

Cost: While I-joists can be cost-effective in terms of material efficiency, their initial cost may be higher than traditional solid wood joists. However, the long-term savings in labor, reduced material waste, and potential for longer spans can offset this initial expense.

Limited Field Modifications: I-joists are typically manufactured to precise specifications, making them less suitable for on-site modifications. This can be a disadvantage if changes to the design or layout are required during construction, as they may involve additional time and cost.

Sound Transmission: I-joists may transmit sound more effectively than solid wood joists due to the composite materials used in their construction. To mitigate sound transmission issues, builders often use additional soundproofing measures like insulation or resilient channels.

It's important to note that many of these disadvantages can be mitigated with proper design, construction practices, and maintenance. Ultimately, the decision to use I-joists or traditional solid wood joists should be based on the specific requirements of the project, including budget, load-bearing needs, and environmental conditions. Consulting with a structural engineer and following manufacturer guidelines can help ensure the successful use of I-joists in construction projects.

Are i-Joists More Expensive?

The cost of I-joists compared to traditional solid wood joists can vary depending on several factors, including location, project size, and the specific brand or manufacturer of the I-joists. In some cases, I-joists may be more expensive than traditional solid wood joists, while in others, they can be cost-competitive or even more cost-effective.  The initial material cost of I-joists may be higher than that of solid wood joists. This is because I-joists often use engineered wood products, such as oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood, for the web component, which can be more expensive than raw lumber. However, the cost difference may be offset by other factors such as labour savings.  i-joists are typically lighter and easier to handle than solid wood joists, which can lead to labor savings during installation. The ease of installation and the reduced need for heavy equipment may help offset the higher material cost.

I-joists can also span longer distances without additional support compared to solid wood joists. This can result in savings on other structural components, such as beams and columns, and may also reduce overall construction costs.