Walls are built to partition living area into different parts. They impart privacy and protection against temperature, rain and theft. Depending upon their functions, Walls may be classified into the following two primary classes

  1. Load bearing walls
  2. Partition walls.

1. Load Bearing Walls

If beams and columns are not used, load from roof and floors are transferred to foundation by walls. Such walls are called load bearing walls. They are to be designed to transfer the load safely. The critical portion of the walls are near the openings of doors and windows and the positions where concrete beams rest.

Minimum wall thickness used is 200 mm. It is also recommended that the slenderness ratio of wall defined as ratio of effective length or effective height to thickness should not be more than 27. The effective height and effective length of a wall may be taken as shown in tables-1 and 2 respectively.

Table-1 [Effective height of walls in terms of actual height H]

End Condition

Effective Height
Lateral as well as rotational restraint 0.75 H
Lateral as well as rotational restraint at one end and only lateral restraint at other  0.85 H
Lateral restraint but no rotational restraint at both ends 1.0 H
Lateral and rotational restraint at one end and no restraint at other ends (compound walls, parapet walls etc.).  1.5 H


Table-2 [Effective length of walls of length L]

End Condition Effective Length
Continuous and supported by cross walls 0.8 L
Continuous at one end and supported by cross walls at the other end 0.9 L
Wall supported by cross walls at each end 1.0 L
Free at one end and continuous at other end 1.5 L
Free at one end and supported by cross wall at other end 2.0 L

2. Partition Walls

In framed structures partition walls are built to divide floor area for different utilities. They rest on floors. They do not carry loads from floor and roof. They have to carry only self-weight. Hence normally partition walls are thin. Table 8.4 shows the differences between load bearing walls and partition walls. Depending upon the requirement these walls may be brick partition, clay block partition, glass partition, wood partition, and aluminium and glass partition.

Differences Between Load Bearing and Partition Walls

Differences between a load bearing wall and a partition wall is given in the following table

Load Bearing Walls

Partition Walls

They carry loads from roof, floor, self-weight etc. They carry self-weight only.
They are thick and hence occupy more floor area. These walls are thin and hence occupy less floor area.
As the material required is more the construction cost is more. As the material required is less, construction cost is less.
Stones or bricks are used for the construction Stones are generally not used for the construction
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