What Is Shear Wall – Its Types, Advantages And Location In Buildings

What Is Shear Wall?

Shear wall is a vertical element used to resist lateral forces such as wind and seismic forces acting on a building structure. It works as a vertical cantilever beam supported at the ground carrying vertical load together with columns. They are mainly used in tall buildings.

In the past two decades, shear walls became an important part of high-rise buildings. As a part of an earthquake building design, these walls are provided in building plans to reduce lateral displacements under earthquake loads.

shear wall


These walls are mainly used

1. To resist lateral loads of earthquake and wind.

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2. To resist gravity or vertical loads due to its self-weight and other living or moving loads.

3. To resist shear as well as uplift forces on the building.

4. To enhance the strength and stability of a structure.

5. To provide adequate stiffness to the structure.

Location Of Shear Wall

There are mainly two arrangements; one is placed at the edges of the building which could be either plane or flanged shape. The other is placed inside the building in the shape of core walls or channel sections.

In highrise buildings, these walls are generally located at the center of the building, normally in the form of a core wall system to accommodate vertical translation systems such as lifts.

Forces On Shear Wall

These walls mainly resist two types of forces;

  1. Shear force.
  2. Uplift force.

1. Shear Force

Shear forces are produced in buildings due to ground movement and lateral forces such as wind and waves. These forces act throughout the height of the wall between the top and bottom wall connections.

2. Uplift Force

Uplift forces are produced on shear walls due to horizontal forces act on the top of the wall. These forces try to lift up one end of the wall and push the other end down.

Uplift forces create a greater effect on tall short walls and less effect on low long walls. Sometimes, they require to hold down devices to provide necessary uplift resistance.


  1. Simple rectangular types and flanged walls.
  2. Coupled shear walls.
  3. Rigid frame shear walls.
  4. Framed walls with in-filled frames.
  5. Column supported shear walls.
  6. Core type shear walls.

Types Of Shear Walls

1. RC Shear Wall

This is the most common type which consists of reinforced concrete walls and RC slabs. The thickness of the walls varies from 140 mm to 150 mm.

These walls are generally continuous throughout the building’s height. However, discontinuous walls might be constructed on the street from or basement level for parking space.

RC Shear Wall

2. Steel Plate Shear Wall

Generally, these walls consist of steel plates, boundary columns, and horizontal floor beams. The steel plate wall and boundary columns act as vertical plate girders where the column act as flanges and steel plates act as its web.

These types of walls can be used effectively in highly seismic areas. However, it may be more expensive than other types.

Steel Plate Shear Wall

3. Plywood Shear Wall

These walls consist of plywood, chords, and base connections. Plywoods transfer shear forces, chords resist tension and compression and base connections transfer shear to the foundation.

Plywood Shear Wall

4. RC Hollow Concrete Block Masonry Wall

These walls are constructed by providing steel reinforcement both in the vertical and horizontal directions of masonry blocks. RHCBM walls counter lateral seismic loads and safely withstand earthquakes.

This construction system is known as the shear wall diaphragm concept. It gives three-dimensional stability to a building.

5. Midply Shear Wall

It is a new concept. One-ply of sheathing material is placed at the center of the wall between a series of pairs of studs and plates oriented in a 90° rotated position relative to these in standard shear walls.

To prevent brittle failure at the end stud due to high tension forces, steel rods are used at each end of the midply wall.

Midply walls have superior survival characteristics under earthquake loading and have a dynamic load-carrying capacity of more than three times compared to standard shear walls.

Advantages Of Shear Wall:

The various advantages are as follows

  • These walls provide more strength, stability, and stiffness to a building.
  • Reduce lateral sway of a building.
  • Easy to construct and easily implemented at the site.
  • Thinner walls, hence lightweight.
  • Effective in minimizing earthquake damage in structural and non-structural elements.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Fast construction.
  • Best performance.

Also Read

Types Of Walls In Construction

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6 thoughts on “What Is Shear Wall – Its Types, Advantages And Location In Buildings”

  1. I have building in which window level lintel beams are running all around the building. Now my floor is lower than the road and open drains. There’s a problem to let the waste water out. So I am planning to raise the floor to one foot. If I raise floor the lintel beams reduce the entrance. So how to overcome the problem. Please help me.

    • Now a days there is technology to lift entire building from plinth level itself. It may be costly for residential buildings.
      If your building is twin with your neighbour then it is not feasible unless your neighbour also wants to lift.
      Another way is to cut lintel beams at all doors and windows openings and construct lintels at required height. It may result to reduce floor height.


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