4 Types of Walls Used in Building Construction

A wall is a wall, right? Actually, there are many different types of walls that can be categorized by their construction and design. Understanding the types and their benefits and drawbacks can help you to plan your construction project more effectively. Before you break out your construction tools, review these five important types of walls used in building construction.

1) Load-Bearing Walls

Some walls are designed to support the weight of the building above them. They are strong enough to support slabs, beams, walls and floors. Both exterior and interior walls may be load-bearing. A simple way of defining this type of wall is that it can support more than its own weight. It carries the weight of the building down to the foundation.

There are many sub-types of walls in this category. For example, retaining walls, masonry walls, precast concrete walls and stone walls are all types of load-bearing walls.

2) Non-Load-Bearing Walls

Not all walls need to be structural. Non-load-bearing walls are those that are designed to only support their own weight. In many common types of construction, the majority of interior walls are non-load-bearing. They are more cost-effective and easier to put up than load-bearing walls. In many cases, they require less powerful construction tools to manipulate the materials.

Some examples of non-load-bearing walls include hollow concrete, hollow bricks, smaller brick walls, façade bricks and some frames walls. These are sometimes called curtain walls.

 

3) Partition Walls

Partition walls are a special type of non-load-bearing walls that are only used for interior construction. They can be floor-to-ceiling height or less. The goal of partition walls is to divide a large space into smaller sections. Some partition walls are designed to be temporary whereas others are permanent.

Materials used for these walls include glass, fiberboard and masonry. If you need to break up a large space, this is the type of wall you need.

4) Cavity Walls

Cavity walls are designed with a space in the middle. They are made up of two leaves made from masonry (essentially an interior and exterior wall). The space in between helps to reduce the total weight of the wall. It also provides better thermal and sound insulation because energy can’t travel through the cavity as well as the walls.

This design can also be effective for fire resistance. This is also a less expensive way to create a masonry wall.

5) Shear Walls

This type of framed wall is specially designed to resist lateral forces. It is most relevant in larger and/or high-rise buildings that have to deal with a lot of forces imparted on the upper structure. By bracing against those lateral forces, shear walls help to protect the foundation. Additionally, shear walls may be included in designs to resist earthquakes.

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