5Loadbearing Walls

A wall is a continuous, usually vertical, structure that is thin relative to its length and height. The prime function of an external wall is to provide shelter against wind, rain and the daily and seasonal variations of outside temperature normal to its location, for reasonable indoor comfort. To provide adequate shelter, a wall should have sufficient strength and stability to be self‐supporting, and also to support roofs and upper floors. Internal walls divide space into smaller areas, rooms and compartments. To differentiate the structural requirements of those walls that carry the loads from roofs and upper floors in addition to their own weight from those that are free standing and carry only their own weight, the terms ‘loadbearing’ and ‘non‐loadbearing’ are used. The majority of walls for single‐, double‐ and triple‐storey buildings are constructed with loadbearing masonry walls, or are framed from timber, steel or concrete. The type of walling materials used will generally depend on the availability of materials and labour, economic factors and design considerations. This chapter describes the main principles of wall construction. The focus is on loadbearing walls common in domestic and small‐scale developments. Details of timber, steel and concrete framed construction, and the materials used for the building envelopes to framed buildings, are described in Barry’s Advanced Construction of Buildings.

5.1 Functional requirements

The function of a ...

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