shear wall

What is a Shear Wall, and how Shear Wall work?

In civil engineering, a shear wall is basically a structural member in an RCC Structure that helps to resist the horizontal forces (such as wind forces) acting on the structure or building.

These walls are typically used in high-rise multi-stored buildings, which are usually subjected to seismic and lateral forces. 

What is a shear wall, and why and where is it provided?

 An elaborate explanation of the above definition would be something like this.

In nature, there are times when a particular phenomenon like an earthquake or the wind applies horizontal or lateral forces on a structure that may disrupt or cause severe damage to it.

But as these conditions must be taken into consideration. It is the engineer’s work to design the structural system in such a way by which it can resist these forces and be able to transfer the load into the foundation and dissipate it into the ground.

Individual structural elements are constructed in the horizontal direction to absorb these loads, which is considerably more rigid than the vertical members of the structure. These highly rigid and stiff vertical elements attract the shear force on the structure popularly known as Shear Wall. 

Shear Wall

Structurally speaking, although the best location for providing shear walls is in the center of the building. But since it is not practical, the choice of location of the shear wall is usually decided after a complete structural analysis.

● The Structural Plan.

● The Location.

● The Symmetry of the Building

● And finally, the Lateral force that gets exerted on the structure. 

The Thickness of Shear Wall

The general Thickness of Shear Walls ranges from 150mm to 400 mm. The minimum nominal thickness of shear walls for one-story RCC buildings is 150 mm, and masonry shear walls are 203 mm.

The Types of Shear Wall

Reinforced Concrete Shear Wall

 These are the most common type of shear walls. The walls consist of reinforcements and concrete slab and vary within a 140 mm to 400 mm thickness. The shear wall’s rebars run from the foundation and up to the top edge of the building. 

Concrete Block Shear Wall

 Unlike regular RC Shear walls, these walls are made up of hollow concrete blocks with reinforcement bars being arranged through the concrete blocks’ hollow area in both the vertical and horizontal directions. Due to this, they can take both vertical and horizontal loads. 

Steel Plate Shear Wall

 Columns and boundary columns are bound steel plate walls with horizontal beams. The steel plate walls operate as the web of the vertical plate girder and the columns as flanges, Thereby making this wall to be able to withstand high seismic force. 

Plywood Shear Wall

  These are walls made out of plywood along with chords and base connections. The plywood distributes the sheer force while the chords resist tension and the base connections distribute that load to the foundation. 

Reinforced Hollow Concrete Wall Masonry (RCHCBM)

 Reinforced Hollow concrete wall masonry consists of reinforcement in both the vertical and horizontal directions of the masonry blocks. These walls are designed to counter lateral seismic load and wind force, providing three-dimensional stability to the structure. 

Shear Wall Design

Here’s a step by step procedure for designing of Shear Wall. Please note that the process involves following the Design Standard codes or International Building Code per respective the country for design considerations. 

  1. Locating and reviewing the layout of the cantilever walls.
  2. Serving the gravity loads and equivalent masses.
  3. Determining the earthquake design force.
  4. Selecting the structural design and analyzing it.
  5. Design for Flexural Strength.
  6. Design for Shear Strength
  7. Design of Reinforcement

Shear Wall Reinforcement In Detail


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