What Does Cantilever Mean In Construction?

A cantilever in construction refers to a projecting structure that is supported on one end and extends out into space without additional support. It is used in building construction to create overhanging structures such as balconies, decks, staircases, and bridges.

A cantilever is typically made up of a beam that is anchored at one end and extends outwards, supported by a wall or column at the other end.

The cantilever must be strong enough to support the weight of the structure and any loads that are applied to it, such as wind, snow, and live loads from occupants or furniture.

In building construction, cantilevers are often used to create overhanging structures without the need for additional support columns or beams.

This allows for greater flexibility in the design of a building and can also be used to maximize the usable space within a building.

Overall, cantilevers play a crucial role in construction, allowing for the creation of overhanging structures that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Cantilever Application In Bridges

Cantilever bridges are a popular type of bridge design that are characterized by the use of cantilever beams. These beams project horizontally from piers and are supported at only one end, allowing for greater spans and the construction of longer bridges.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history of cantilever bridges, their design and construction, and their benefits and drawbacks.

The History of Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever bridges have a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. One of the earliest examples of a cantilever bridge was the Friedrickstraße Bridge in Magdeburg, Germany, which was built in 1839. This bridge was a simple beam bridge with two cantilevers extending from each pier.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cantilever bridges gained popularity as a way to cross large bodies of water and to connect distant locations.

Some of the most famous cantilever bridges built during this time include the Forth Bridge in Scotland, the Quebec Bridge in Canada, and the Eads Bridge in the United States.

The Design and Construction of Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever bridges are designed to support heavy loads while spanning long distances. The cantilever beams themselves are typically made from steel or concrete, and are designed to resist bending and compressive forces.

The construction of a cantilever bridge involves the use of temporary supports, such as scaffolding or towers, to hold the beams in place while they are being built. Once the beams are complete, the temporary supports are removed and the bridge is complete.

Benefits of Cantilever Bridges

There are several benefits to using cantilever bridges as a type of bridge design. These include:

  • Longer Spans: Cantilever bridges are capable of spanning longer distances than other types of bridges, such as suspension bridges or arch bridges.
  • Stronger Construction: The design of cantilever bridges makes them highly resistant to bending and compressive forces, allowing them to support heavy loads and withstand harsh weather conditions.
  • Cost-Effective: Because cantilever bridges can span longer distances than other types of bridges, they often require fewer piers and less material, making them more cost-effective to build.

Drawbacks of Cantilever Bridges

While cantilever bridges have many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. These include:

  • Complex Construction: Building a cantilever bridge can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring specialized equipment and trained workers.
  • Maintenance Requirements: The cantilever beams on a cantilever bridge require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure their continued stability and safety.
  • Limited Design Options: The design of cantilever bridges is limited, making it difficult to create unique or aesthetically pleasing bridges.


Cantilever bridges are a popular and effective type of bridge design that are capable of spanning long distances and supporting heavy loads.

While there are some drawbacks to consider, such as the complex construction process and maintenance requirements, the benefits of cantilever bridges make them an excellent choice for many bridge projects.

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