Structual Design software for beams and joists...

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cbe's picture
Structual Design software for beams and joists...

I am considering buying StruCalc or BeamChek to help calculate beams.  Does anyone here use these or recommend something similar?

- Cory

Dennis Asher
Dennis Asher's picture
Structural Design Software

Hi Cory.  I have used both programs but currently use StruCalc only.  The biggest advantage of StruCalc is the ability to have 3 spans as well as a cantilever on each side.  If I remember correclty BeamChek is only capable of 2 spans.  StruCalc also runs I-Joist products.  I think BeamChek would only do solid sawn but not sure.  StruCalc also works good for me because that is the same program my local building department uses for plan check.  That way I have an apples to apples comparison for any descrepancies.  IMO StruCalc is a superior program but I think it cost more too.  Hope this helps.

John Vanderwoerd
John Vanderwoerd's picture
Beam Calculation Software

I have used BeamChek in the past.  It worked okay, but was limited in that when you did 2 or 3 spans on a beam they all had to have equal conditions.  For my designs this was rarely the case.

My software of choice is put out by the Canada Wood Council and is called Woodworks Sizer.  They have a Canadian and an American version.  In Canada we use limit states design but in the USA they use working stress design.  This software will do it all.  Wood joist, beams in regular dimensional, rough timber, dressed timber, pressure treated, wet conditions, wide flange steel beams, LVL, I-joists, etc.

I think this is by far one of the best structural software programs out there!  They also have a free trial.


Canadian version here

US version here

US and Canadian Engineering Software for Wood Design

Produced with technical guidance from the wood industry's codes and standards engineers.









WoodWorks® is produced by the Canadian Wood Council (CWC). The American Wood Council (AWC) provides technical guidance for CWC's development of the US version.


Sizer Software Sizer

With WoodWorks® Sizer, you can size beams, joists, columns and wall studs to meet the 2005 National Design Specification® (NDS® ) for Wood Construction.

  • Specify dead, live, snow and wind loads
  • Automatically pattern loads
  • Generate a materials take-off summary based on your design
  • Design for point, line, area, triangular, and trapezoidal loads simultaneously
  • Automatically check all load combinations as per IBC 2009, ASCE 7-05, UBC 1997
  • Analyze the critical load cases for reactions at supports, shear, bending, and deflection
  • Generate detailed analysis reports and diagrams
  • Generate a list of acceptable sections for dimension lumber, heavy timbers, glulam, LVL, PSL, or I-joists
  • Use the Materials Database editor to customize the software to your needs

Design Entire Structures – Concept Mode

  • Configure and design a complete structure in plan
  • Do preliminary designs of structures considering gravity loads using the graphical design and analysis work area
  • Perform multi-storey gravity load analysis – sizing all structural members and reporting the reactions at the base
  • Export elements from Concept Mode for further analysis into either Beam Mode or Column Mode

Design Beams – Beam Mode

  • Design individual wood bending members
  • Use Beam Mode to verify the design of critical bending members
  • Generate deflection, shear and bending moment diagrams for any beam or joist in your project
  • Design single or multi-span beams and joists with or without cantilevers
  • Design beams for gravity and uplift loads
  • Specify full, clear or design span
  • Design supporting members for bearing

Design Columns – Column Mode

  • Design individual wood columns, walls, and beam-columns
  • Use Column Mode to verify the design of critical compression members
  • Design columns and wall studs to resist both axial and lateral loads
  • Generate deflection, shear and bending moment diagrams for a single column or wall stud
  • Check wall bottom plate for bearing's picture

I use several different ones and all of the below are pretty flexible and some are free ;


1) Simpson Strongtie recently took over Keymarks Keybeam and now it's called CS Beam

2) Forte by Weyehaeuser was Trus Joists primary software specifier

3) BC Calc. is Boise Cascade product specifier.

4) Have tried CWC Woodworks mentioned above.


I am currently switching over from mostly CS Beam to BC Calc. because that's whose product line the local lumber supplier is carrying.