Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

A wall is a structure that defines an area, carries load and provides shelter or security. Wall is a structural element which divides the space (room) into two spaces (rooms).

Generally, the walls are differentiated as a two types outer-walls and inner-walls. Outer-walls gives an enclosure to the house for shelter and inner-walls helps to partition the enclosure into the required number of rooms.

Inner walls are also called as partition walls or interior walls and outer walls are also called as exterior walls. 

Type of walls 

Here we are going to learn about various types of walls, and to differentiate among various types of walls without any confusion.

Although there are so many types of walls, but I have chosen 14 most common types of walls. 

  1. Load bearing wall
  2. Non-load bearing wall
  3. Partition wall
  4. Shear Wall
  5. Core wall
  6. Retaining wall
  7. Buttress wall
  8. Cavity wall
  9. Brick masonry wall
  10. Rubble masonry wall
  11. Precast wall
  12. Parapet wall
  13. Curtain wall
  14. Faced wall

1) Load Bearing Walls

As the name suggest load bearing walls, the walls which support all the weight above them and their own weight. So, if a building is a load bearing structure, then all the walls will be load bearing walls, so a load bearing structure don’t have columns.

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

It carries loads imposed on it from beams and slabs above including its own weight. These walls support structural members such as beams, slabs and walls on above floor.

It can either be interior wall or exterior wall. We can see the examples of load bearing walls mostly in the older houses, kacha houses/villages, or areas with les chances of earthquake and cyclones. 

It can be exterior wall or interior wall.

Types of load bearing wall

  • Precast concrete wall
  • Retaining wall
  • Masonry wall
  • Pre panelized load bearing metal stud walls
  • Engineering brick wall
  • Stone wall

2) Non-load Bearing Walls 

These walls do not support the load above them such as beams and slabs, these walls are mainly seen in the friend structure. Friend structure are those which have beams, columns and slabs and these 3 members are responsible for bearing the load of the building like total load above building.

The purpose of these walls are to separate rooms from outside. It is known as interior wall (doesn’t carry other load than its own load).

Types of non-load bearing wall

  • Hollow concrete block wall
  • Facade brick wall
  • Hollow brick wall
  • Brick wall

3) Partition walls

These are the type of non-load bearing walls and these are mainly used to separate a part of space and their other function includes privacy for space, acoustic, fire separation and etc.

From this type of walls, we can make different section in a same hall. These are made up of light material such as timber, plywood etc. It is mainly used in office areas. 

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

4) Shear walls

Shear walls are made in the high raised framed structures such as apartment and these walls resist the wind forces and seismic forces.

It is a structural member in a reinforced concrete framed structure to resist lateral forces such as wind forces. Shear walls are generally used in high rise buildings subject to lateral wind and seismic forces. 

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

5) Core wall 

A core wall is a single wall starting from the lowest floor and goes till to the top or required level. The core in a building has different functions such as making staircases, elevators, electrical cables, and water pipes all go from this wall.

So, in a simple word if we say the core is used to transport something from one level to another. The core allows people to move between the floors of a building and distributes services efficiently to the floors.

6) Retaining wall

The wall that supports soil is a retaining wall. These are mostly used in the slopy land like mountains and river banks etc. Retaining walls are specially designed nad constructed to resist the lateral pressure of soil.

Retaining walls are used for supporting soil laterally. It helps to retain at different levels on the two sides. 

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

7) Buttress wall

Buttress means exterior support, projecting from the face of a wall and serving either to strengthen it or to resist the side thrust created on the wall. These walls serve as an exterior support in a building so these are mostly made up of masonry and if more strength is required, we can use RCC.

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

8) Cavity walls

It is a two layered wall and these walls are separated by hollow space that is known as cavity. As we know that air is a poor conductor of heat so these walls are used if we require heat insulation in a building.

9) Brick masonry wall

 These are the walls that are made using the bricks and mortar. Mortar is the paste used to hold 2 bricks together, that can be cement + sand or lime + sand or soil only.

The most important thing to note over here is, all the bricks are of same sizes. The strength of this wall depends upon the type of mortar and the pattern of the bricks we use.

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

10) Rubble masonry wall

In rubble masonry the stones are used of different sizes and these are undressed rough stones, and mostly these are used to make the outer boundry of the sites in the older houses. These are also called rubblework.  

Stone Masonry Wall

11) Precast wall 

Precast walls mean the walls that are already made in the factories and then brought to the site, where it is required. And then they are installed and fixed according to the need. Similar to the precast wall, precast beams, precast stairs, precast pillars are also available in the market. 

12) Parapet wall

These walls are made at the edges of the roof and mostly these are extensions of the walls present below the roof. Safety and security are only two purposes of making parapet walls. 

Type of wall | Load Bearing, Non Load bearing, Retaining wall, Shear Wall

14) Curtain wall

This type of walls somehow looks like curtain so they are named as curtain walls. Curtain walls are constructed on the outer face of the buildings.

The purpose of the curtain wall is to protect the interior space of the building from exterior and natural phenomenon like rain, sunlight etc. and it also provides the beauty of the building.

15) Faced Wall

 Faced wall has the facing and backing of two different materials and are bonded together to ensure common action under load. 

Hence, these are the different type of wall.

Read Also,

How to backfill a retaining wall | Best backfill material for retaining wall

What is the thickness required of a masonry wall?

What is Non load bearing wall | Features, Types

Load bearing walls – Types, identification, and Features

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"Structural Engineer" with over 5 years of experience in estimation, structural design, and surveying. I am passionate about using my skills to create safe and sustainable structures. I am also a keen writer, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others.