Importance and Purpose of Walls in the Building

It is very difficult to construct a building without a wall which is one of the important components of a building. It serves a very useful function of enclosing an area or dividing the space in order to fulfill all the basic requirements. It provides privacy, affords security in addition to providing protection to the people against heat, cold, sun-rays, weathering agencies, etc. Walls also provide support to the floors and roofs. It is a vertical member that bears a load.

Building Walls may be constructed of bricks or stones or composite materials. Depending upon the material and function served by the walls, they are classified into various categories.

Building walls are important and one of the essential components of a building due to the following reasons:

(i) These are used to divide the available space of the building according to the requirement.

(ii) These afford security from bad elements of the society.

(iii) These provide privacy to the user of the building.

(iv) These provide support to floors, roofs, etc of the Building.

(v) These give protection against heat, cold, sun and rain, etc.

(vi) These provide protection from dust, storms, etc.


Classification of Building Walls

1. Load-bearing walls

2. Non-load bearing walls

3. Retaining walls and Breast walls.


Load Bearing Walls of the Building

In the Building the walls built on a continuous foundation and which support the entire load including their own load are referred to as load-bearing walls. These walls must have sufficient strength, stability, fire resistance, thermal insulation, weather, resistance, sound insulation, and durability. Such Building walls are thick in cross-section and may be solid or hollow. Load-bearing walls are usually constructed as the main walls of the building

They are designed to carry superimposed loads and their own load and then transfer the same to underneath in a systematic manner.

Load-bearing walls of the Building may be further classified as:

(i) Solid masonry building wall 

(ii) Cavity building wall

(iii) Faced building wall

(iv) Veneered building wall

(i) Solid masonry building wall: These walls are constructed of individual blocks of material e.g., bricks, clay, concrete blocks, or stone. Then these blocks are laid in horizontal courses bonded together with mortar. The wall so formed is called a solid masonry wall. It may have openings for doors, ventilators, windows, etc.

(ii) Cavity building wall: It is built of two leaves. Each leaf being built as a single structural unit. These two leaves are separated by a cavity and tied together with metal ties in order to ensure that the two leaves act as one unit. The space between the two leaves is either filled with a non-load-bearing insulating and waterproofing material or left as a continuous cavity. They prevent dampness and have a 25% greater insulating value than solid walls.

(iii) Faced building wall: The wall in which facing and backing are constructed of two different materials is referred to as the faced wall. The connection between the two is such that it ensures common action under load.

(iv) Veneered building wall: It is the wall in which facing is attached to the backing but not bonded as in the case of a faced wall. Due to this veneered wall does not ensure common action under load. 

Non-Load Bearing Walls of the Building

The walls which simply serve as a screen for privacy and do not take any load except their own are called non-load bearing walls. These walls should be strong enough to take their own load. They are used in a framed structure which is comprised of a system of columns or piers erected on their own foundations. The structure braced together by beams and floors. The gaps left in between the piers or columns are filled with non-load-bearing walls.

Non-load-bearing walls of the building do not support floors or roofs and do not take any superimposed load. Such walls are thin in cross-action.

Retaining Walls and Breast Walls of the Building

A wall of increasing thickness constructed for the purposes of retaining some water to one side is referred to as a retaining wall. A breast wall is also a retaining wall but it is provided to protect the natural sloping ground from the cutting action weathering agencies like rain, snow, etc. Both the wall is designed on similar patterns.

The salient features of the retaining and breast walls are:

(i) As we know that pressure increases with depth. Therefore, the section of the wall increases from top to bottom. The back of the wall is sometimes stepped but the front face is kept either inclined or vertical.

(ii) Batter is provided, at someplace, on both sides in case of breast walls depending upon the pressures to be remained by the walls.

(iii) Retaining walls are checked against sliding and overturning. They are also checked against tension. The maximum compressive stress at the base of the wall should not be more than the safe bearing capacity of the soil in any case.

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