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What is the equivalent of a 3 2x8, 16 feet? I would like to use one beam (for decorative effect) instead of the 2x8s since the beam will be exposed. This will go up in my dining room ceiling.

If the cost of one beam is costly, I may just have the 2x8s tucked up in the ceiling joist using hangers.

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    Hire an Licensed Engineer to make the determination. There are a lot of things that need to be taken into account for how to work the support and there can be hidden loads that you didn't realize need to be accounted for. You buy insurance for your Car and Health, why not hire someone qualified as insurance that it will be done right and part of your home doesn't fail. – Dopeybob435 Jan 25 '16 at 19:05
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That's an extremely long span for 2x8s, even tripled. Do you know whether there was ever an intermediate post? Most would suggest that you have a engineer look over your situation. Existing framing isn't always a good indicator of what to use.

At any rate, a pair of 1-3/4" microlam (or laminated veneer lumber--LVL) beams will almost certainly suffice. The only question is what the height needs to be for your load.

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