Tutorial: Structural Beams

About Beams

It is a good practice to add columns and grids before creating beams in the project. Beams are placed below the current level. So, if you would like to place beams under the first floor slab, you must go to first floor plan/select first floor level as the placement level, in order to add beams.

Tutorial Objective:

Before moving onto this tutorial, please make sure that you are already familiar with, how to load a family into the project , how to duplicate and create new type for a family, Trim/Extend to Corner  and Trim/Extend to Single Element tools and Create similar tool.

In this tutorial, you will learn,

Sample Problem:

Add beams under the first floor slab level as shown in Fig 1.

M2 Beams Tutorial
Fig 1. Placement of beams in the sample tutorial project
  • UB-Universal Beam: 254x146x43UB between Grid B4 to C4
  • Concrete_Rectangular Beam: 230mm x 420mm placed as shown in Fig 1.

Sample Files required for this tutorial:

If you do not have the following files, please download them from here.

  1. “TutorialBeams_Input_LearningRevitOnline.rvt”
  2. Beam/Structural Framing Family files: “UB-Universal Beam.rfa” and “Concrete_Rectangular Beam.rfa”


  1. Open tutorial file ‘TutorialBeams_Input_LearningRevitOnline.rvt’ in Revit. This project file already contains levels, grids, walls and a column on ground floor level.
  2. Navigate to the floor plan of  “01 First Floor Level”. Ensure that you can see the ground floor layout as Underlay.
    • Underlay is like a sheet of drawing put underneath another to use as a reference. It helps in understanding the relationship of components at different levels for coordination and construction.
  3. If you cannot see the Ground floor layout as an underlay, do the following.
  4. To create an underlay:

    • In the Project Browser, open a plan view. (In this case, “01 First Floor Level”).
    • Go to the properties palette.
    • Go to the parameter “Range: Base Level” and select the level you want to underlay. In this case, select “00 Ground Level” as we want to see the layout of the Ground level as underlay.
    • “Range: Top Level” parameter is automatically set to one level above the Base Level. If you want to set a different level as the top range, select the level from here.
    • Ground level is now shown as underlay in halftone. M2 Beams 1
    • If you want to avoid mistakenly selecting the elements displayed in Underlay, you can turn off the “Select Underlay Elements”option on the status bar. Turn it on, if you want to select the elements in underlay.M2 Beams 2
  5. Let’s first add structural steel beam of the “UB-Universal Beam” family between Grid B4 to C4 as shown in Fig 1.
  6. Load the family “UB-Universal Beam.rfa” into the project.
  7. To add a structural beam/framing:

    • Go to Structure tab -> Structure panel -> Beam
      • Alternatively, use “BM” as the keyboard shortcut .
    • From the type selector, select the type 254x146x43UB of the UB-Universal Beam family you loaded in step 6.
    • On the options bar, select the Placement Level as First Floor Level.
    • On the options bar, select the structural usage of the beam as ‘Other’ . Revit will automatically assign this value based on which elements the beam is connecting.
    • In the drawing area, draw the beam from the grid intersection B-4 to C-4.
    • Click Esc twice to end the Beam tool.
    • As the beam is constructed under the first floor level (the top of beam matches with first floor level line), it is shown as an underlay element in halftone.M2 Beams 3
  8. The beam, although added at the grid intersection B-4, may not extend upto the middle of the steel column. This is mainly because Revit has assumed the space for connections. However, if you would like to extend the beam to the center of the steel column, then select the beam.
    • Go to Modify|Structural Framing tab -> Join Tool panel -> Change Reference.
    • Select the face of the column that you would like the beam to connect to. M2 Beams 4
    •  Click Esc twice to end the Modify tool.
    • TIP: Click and drag shape handles at the beam ends to adjust their end extensions or cutback. Learn more about how to use Shape handles here.
  9. Go to a 3D view to visualize the output. M2 Beams 17
  10. Now, let’s move on to add Concrete beam of “Concrete_Rectangular Beam” family as shown in Fig 1. Navigate back to the First Floor level floor plan and load the family “Concrete_Rectangular Beam.rfa” into the project.
  11. Go to Structure tab -> Structure panel -> Beam
    • Alternatively, use “BM” as the keyboard shortcut .
  12. From the type selector, select any one type of the Concrete_Rectangular Beam family you loaded in step 9.
  13. Duplicate the existing type and create a new type of beam (named 230 x 420) that has width(b) = 230mm/0.23m and depth (h) = 420mm/0.42mM2 Beams 5
  14. Repeat step 7, to add beams from Grid intersection C-2 to C-5.M2 Beams 6.jpg
  15. Add a section line as shown below to see the beam in a section view.
  16. Go to the section view and notice that the beam is added so that the top of the beam matches with the first floor level as required.
  17. However, the walls and the beams are overlapping. In reality, the top of the wall shall match the bottom of the beam. One approach to resolve this is to use ” Join Geometry” tool. However, be careful with this tool as overusing it can use more memory and can cause unexpected issues, especially in large scale projects. The other approach is to use an offset value for the top constraint of the wall as shown below.
  18. To adjust the height of the wall using offset values:

    • Select the wall.
    • Go to the Top Offset parameter in the Instance properties of the properties palette.
    • Add the value you would like to adjust. (In this case, as the beam depth is 0.42m and we want the wall to lower the value from the top constraint level, add offset value as “-0.42m” )
    • The wall height will adjust accordingly.M2 Beams 9
  19. Now, notice that as this beam is not connected to structural columns, but instead it is on a wall, the wall shall also be a structural load-bearing wall. However, currently in the project, the wall is an architectural wall.  You can see this by selecting the wall and checking its Structural Usage parameter in the Instance properties. M2 Beams 10
  20. To convert architectural walls into structural walls:

    • Select the wall.
    • Go to its Structural parameters in the Instance properties.
    • Turn on the checkbox for the ‘Structural’ parameter.
    • Under Structural Usage parameter, select ‘Bearing’.
    • Now, the wall is converted to a structural load-bearing wall.
      • Note: You can avoid this step, if you already know from the beginning which walls are going to be structural walls. In that case, you can sketch walls using the tool:
        • Architecture tab-> Build Panel -> Wall Drop down menu -> Wall: Structural
  21. Now, add more Concrete_Rectangular Beam family of 230×420 type in the project as shown in Fig 1. You may use Modify tools such as Trim/Extend to Corner  or Trim/Extend to Single Element tools to create junctions between beams.
    • TIP: For more productive approach, instead of using Beam tool to sketch beams, use ‘Create Similar‘ tool. Using Create Similar tool makes your workflow more productive when you want to create more instances of the same type which you have already used once in the project. This saves you time to look for the right type of family in the type selector.
      • To use create similar tool, select the beam that you already placed -> go to create similar tool in Modify panel (“CS” as keyboard shortcut) -> the beam tool is active and the same type of beam has been selected in the type selector -> Now, you can begin adding beams as shown in step 7. To learn more about how to use create similar tool, click here.
    • TIP: When the Beam tool is active, on the options bar, turn on “Chain” option to add multiple beams in a continuous loop.
  22. After adding all the beams as shown in Fig 1, go to a 3D view for a clear visualization. M2 Beams 11
  23. Now, select all the walls that are under the beams. Repeat step 18 to adjust the height of the wall and step 20 to convert these walls into structural load-bearing walls.
    • TIP: While selecting multiple walls, press Ctrl to add walls to the selection and press Shift to remove walls from the selection.
    • TIP: Hover the mouse over one of the walls -> Press Tab to highlight the connected walls -> Click to select the highlighted walls.
    • TIP: To make the selection of multiple walls easier, you can also use Temporary Hide/Isolate tool to hide or isolate the walls and beams temporarily.
    • Temporary Hide/Isolate tool:

      • To isolate category temporarily: 
        • Select one of the element for which you would like to isolate the category.
        • In this case, select one of the walls and one of the beams.
        • Go to View Control bar -> Temporary Hide/Isolate -> Isolate Category.
        • All the beams and walls in the view will be isolated.
      • To hide elements temporarily:
        • Select the elements that you wish to hide.
        • Go to View Control bar -> Temporary Hide/Isolate -> Hide Element
        • The selected elements will be hidden.
      • To reset Temporary Hide/Isolate view:
        • Go to View Control bar -> Temporary Hide/Isolate -> Reset Temporary Hide/Isolate
  24. After adjusting the wall height and their structural usage, go to a 3D view to see all the beams you have added.M2 Beams 16
  25. After completing all the steps above, Save As your project as  ‘TutorialBeams_Output_LearningRevitOnline.rvt’.

More about Beams:

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