To coincide with our expansion into stocking more lintels we are taking a more in depth look at the steel lintel market and the products available.

Origins of steel lintels

CB50-Birtley lintel

CB50-Birtley lintel

Steel lintels were first seen in the UK market place in the late 60’s when IG invented the open back lintel which has now become the industry standard.

It wasn’t long before other manufacturers such as Birtley, Stressline and Catnic had brought out similar products when the UK steel lintel market really took off.

Birtley steel cavity lintel

Birtley steel cavity lintel

In 1967, Brian Robinson developed and pioneered the Catnic brand. This lead to catnic quickly gaining a large market share of the uk’s housebuilding industry. Catnic is still synonymous today when customers are ordering steel lintels, often referring to steel lintels with the generic term ‘Catnics’

The name Catnic actually comes from the name of Brian’s children Catherine and Nicholas.

In 1993, the Caradon group of companies acquired Catnic, this was later followed by further takeovers to form Corus Steel and then, as we are at present,TATA Steel.

In 1989 Keystome lintels opened their first design, production and distribution facility in Cookstown. This was followed in 1997 with their distribution centre in Birmingham. In 2002, they relocated to a larger distribution and manufacturing centre in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. At this point and with some aggressive pricing and marketing, Keystone lintels quickly became the market leader.

In 2006, the Keystone Group acquired IG to further enhance their market share.

Technical Developments

Keystone inner leaf stainless steel lintel

Keystone inner leaf steel lintel

Keystone timber frame lintel

Keystone timber frame lintel

With the onset of competition, manufacturers looked for ever increasing niche areas, namely specials. With the advances in the market and better technologies being developed, it became possible to have special shaped lintels such as semi-circle, segmental, apex, gothic and also corner lintels. For a look at bespoke designs and to give you some idea of the realms of things achievable, take a look at Keystone Signature Projects.


All the above mentioned manufacturers have a strong group of structural and design teams. With a full set of working drawings, if it’s possible, they can design a solution to most structural opening situations.

Making sure you select the appropriate lintel

We come across a common problem when dealing with customers throughout the years in that some customers tend to order the standard duty, more commonly stocked lintels and don’t take in to considerations the loading capabilities.

The 2 most common designs of lintels are the aforementioned open back and the box lintels. Both of these come in varying degrees of structural strength capacities from the standard loadings up to the almost girder type extreme heavy duty.

Careful consideration should be given when purchasing any lintel to make sure it is suitable for the job in hand. In some situations, it may even be specified that Stainless Steel lintels are used rather than the more prominent hot-dipped galvanised.

Catnic CG90 stainless steel lintel

Catnic CG90 stainless steel lintel

With such a vast array of lintels to suit almost any application, you can start by clicking on either Catnic Lintels, IG Lintels or Keystone Lintelswhich will take you to the manufacturer’s site so an informed choice can be made.

TX90_100-Catnic lintel

Catnic lintel

We can help

At Laker Builders Merchant you will receive expert advice to assist you select the right steel lintels for your project. Whether its a single opening or a multiple lintel requirement for a development, we are on hand from 7am to 5pm M-F and Saturday morning to help advise and if necessary, liaise with the manufacturer’s technical departments on your behalf.

If you have full working drawings you can send us, then great, click here to email drawings. At which point we will send them away for a full structural assessment by the fully qualified design teams. Our manufacturers will then produce a full schedule stating which lintel goes in which opening and the relative cost. If you haven’t got full drawings don’t worry, we can still give you assistance and advice to make sure you choose the right lintel.

After all, we don’t wish to see anyones house falling down!