What Is a Shear Wall and Types of Share Walls?

Shear walls or better known as shear walls are structural elements in the form of reinforced concrete walls that function to withstand shear forces, lateral forces due to earthquakes, or other forces in high-rise buildings and high-rise buildings. There are various types of sliding walls in the building, including bearing walls, frame walls, and core walls.

What is a Shear Wall?

Shear walls are reinforced concrete slab walls or steel plates that are installed vertically in certain building positions to improve structural performance in tall buildings.

In multi-story structures, shear walls have various functions, namely:

  1. Withstand loads or lateral forces such as earthquake and wind forces working on a building.
  2. Absorbs large horizontal forces or shear forces as a structure increases. 
  3. Adds rigidity to the structure.
  4. Prevents exterior wall failures and supports multiple floors of the building.
  5. Ensure that structures do not collapse due to lateral movements in earthquakes. 

The use of shear walls has been applied quite widely in high-rise buildings, especially for buildings with 20 or more floors. Generally, this shear wall system is used in reinforced concrete buildings. However, according to its development, it has penetrated buildings that use steel in its structure.

This shear wall can be installed as an outer, inner, or core wall that partitions the elevator or staircase. 

Shear Wall Design

The design of the shear wall with its proper placement will provide an efficient lateral force barrier system. The application of shear walls is an alternative for multi-storey buildings that are less than 20 floors. Meanwhile, for buildings consisting of 20 floors or more, this shear wall structure has become a necessity in terms of its effectiveness as a deflection control (deflection) due to the working load. 

The design characteristics of an effective shear wall must meet the following criteria:

  • Rigid and strong
  • Construction of shear walls should be continuous upward (not alternating)
  • The surrounding beams and foundation beams should be strengthened so that they can support the strength of the shear walls
  • If the planning of the upper and lower shear walls is not continuous (alternating), then the horizontal load or force held by the walls must be transferred through the floor.

Types of Shear Wall

Nowadays, various shear wall systems have many variations, from the previous one which used concrete material until now which is being developed and is in great demand, namely shear walls made of steel plates.

The shape of the steel plate structure profile which is thinner and slimmer than concrete material is one of the advantages which is the reason why choosing steel structure as a shear wall material. However, the development of shear walls using steel plates is only abroad.

In practice, shear walls can be classified into three widely used types, namely:

Cantilever sliding wall (free-standing shear wall)

A freestanding shear wall is a type of shear wall without holes so that it has an important influence on the stiffness and strength of the building structure in question. There are two types of cantilever shear walls, namely:

  • Cantilever ductile sliding wall;
  • Cantilever shear walls with limited ductility.

Sliding walls equipped with openings (Opening Shear wall)

Under certain conditions, the shear wall must be equipped with openings intended for installing windows, doors, and mechanical and electrical (ME) channels. Therefore, there is a type of shear wall called an opening shear wall.

In order not to overly affect wall stiffness and stress, constructors can place these openings in locations that do not significantly affect wall stiffness or stress. 

Also read: How to Remove Moisture from Walls (Complete Guide 2021)

If the shear wall is made with small openings, the overall effect is also very small. However, this is not the case if the openings are large.

Coupled shear wall

This coupled shear wall consists of two or more cantilevered walls so that it has the ability to form a flexible laying mechanism of the base properly. Each of these cantilevered shear walls will be connected with beams that have stiffness and strength. Thus, one wall to another will be able to withstand and transfer the lateral forces that occur.

Other types of Shear Wall

Bearing Walls

This type of shear wall will support most of the gravity load. Bearing walls also use partition walls between adjacent apartments.

Frame Walls

The second type is frame walls that withstand lateral loads. In this case, the gravitational load comes from the reinforced concrete frame. Frame walls are built between rows of columns but in today’s modern era their use has shifted to mild steel.

Core Walls

This sliding wall is usually placed in the core of the building. Suppose that the center is filled with the elevator shaft and stairs. The choice of shear walls of this type is usually based on economic reasons and the dual function they have.

Advantages of Using a Shear Wall

There are several advantages that you can get when using a shear wall in a building structure, namely as follows:

  • Reducing Shocks During the Earthquake

Similar to Japan, several nations are earthquake-prone countries. This is due to the geographical conditions of our country which has many volcanoes and is located on the earth’s plate. By using a shear wall, you can reduce earthquake shocks so that their impact on the shape of the building can be minimized.

  • Strengthening Buildings

The existence of a sliding wall can not only divide space. Moreover, with reinforced concrete wall structures you can also use it for building structures that bear the workload of surrounding beams and columns.

  • Minimizing Building Maintenance Costs

Why can the use of shear walls help minimize building maintenance costs? You have to remember that one of the functions of the shear wall is to withstand shocks during an earthquake. If your building uses a shear wall, then when an earthquake occurs, the risk of damage to the building is relatively small. This is the reason why you can minimize costs.

  • Increase Wall Carrying Load

When a building uses a shear wall, the floor will receive a growing load. Well, the amount of floor strength is directly proportional to the thickness of the shear wall. So indirectly this will increase the load-bearing capacity of the wall.

Hopefully, the information above is useful for you.