How much weight can a 2×6 support horizontally?


The strength of a beam varies based on various aspects. It may be based on the weight and size of the load placed on it, for how long, among other factors. As such, the question of how much weight can a 2x6 support horizontally may have varied answers.

For an expansion of the corresponding factors, read through for better understanding of how much is a 2x6 load capacity.

Factors that Determine the Weight A 2x6 Can Support

  1. Type of Wood

Lumber exists in two types, namely softwood and hardwood. Softwood mainly comprises of conifer trees including cedar, fir, pine, and spruce. The reason they are categorized as softwood is that one can bend them with the slightest effort.

Softwood lumber is also fast in absorbing and losing moisture compared to their hardwood counterparts. These qualities translate into softwood beams being lighter, and care must be exercised to ensure they pass the test of time. Therefore, placing too much load on a 2x6 softwood beam may not be an advisable plan.

Hardwood, on the other hand, comprises of deciduous trees whose leaves fall during cold months. The examples of hardwood trees include walnut, mahogany, oak, and maple. The trees are characterized by a hard texture and ability to bear heavy loads.

2x6 load capacity

Generally, each wood species exists differently when it comes to strength. For instance, the Southern Pine is considered to be much stronger compared to the spruce species. As such, placing a 700 lbs. engine on the latter, for example, may limit its lifespan while the Southern Pine will support it fully.

  1. Lumber Grade

The grade of the lumber is also an important factor to consider when determining a 2x6 load capacity. If a certain species has a higher grade than another species, it will also have a better strength provision. Its strength rating will be higher, and so will its stiffness value.

how much weight can a 2x6 hold on edge
  1. The Duration of the Load

For each load size and type, the duration they will spend on the beams will be of top concern too. The duration of a load mostly affects the strength rating (Fb) of lumber while the stiffness value (E) is not affected by the load. Therefore, it becomes a clear indication that you may judge how much weight a 2x6 may support depending on how long you intend it to.

  1. Size of the Lumber

The length of the joists also has an impact on the weight it can support. The longer they are will mean an increased deck area that the joists can support. This will, in return, translate into more support from the beam.

Size of the Lumber

How much weight can a 2x6 hold on edge based on load type?

The type of load in question will also determine how much weight a 2x6 can hold on edge. For example, a 2x4 lumber may hold a 4-cylinder engine comfortably but may not hold a bigger one. On the other end, a 2x6 can support a V8 engine of between 600 – 700 lbs.

The depth of each structural member will also be a key player here. For example, 2x6 joists that are spaced 24-inches o.c. will provide more support, strength, and improved floor assembly compared to 2x4 of the same grade and species.


The span of a 2x6 beam depends on several variables including the size, type, and species of lumber as well as the load. When all the factors are kept constant with the right weight calculations, it would mean that the lumber can support more weight both horizontally and vertically. It would also answer the question of how much weight can a 2x6 support vertically and horizontally.

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7 thoughts on “How much weight can a 2×6 support horizontally?”

  1. I want to build a bridge 20ft long that will take a load of 1500lbs.
    What size lumber will I need. My thinking was 2×6 or 2×8 in 5 or more pieces to be 6ft wide.

  2. Are there any support beams under the 20’ span? Because you would require much beefier lumber!
    There is zero chance I would risk 2×6 or 8 for a 20’ span without a support beam in the middle.

  3. About 10 years ago I built a 24′ clear span bridge. I used double PT 2×12’s glued and screwed on 48″ centers. the deck is 6′ wide and 5/4 treated decking. We run our ATV’s plus a small trailer with about 200-250 pounds of gravel. We probably hit close to 1400 pounds. I am no engineer but if I were you I would do double PT 2×12 with 3/4″ PT plywood sandwiched in between and glued and screwed. If I was doing it over I would have added the plywood. I am currently planning a 6′ bridge 12 long. I think I will do it with double 2×8’s with 1/2″ treated (because i have a lot of 1/2″ PT plywood) glued and screwed. I only need around 1,000 pounds capacity but I am confident it will hold much more. Good luck on your project.

  4. I removed the flooring beneath my tub for a shower conversion. Existing floor joists are 2 x 12’s. When I reinstall the plywood floor one side I want to install a 2 x 6 approx 6′ long to resupport the floor opening. Is that alright?


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