Intended to support the structure of the house, the shear wall is a load-bearing wall located inside the house. It plays a crucial role in the solidity of the structure and ensures better load distribution. This type of wall has a number of special features. Discover them.
The principle of a shear wall
There are basically two types of load-bearing walls: facade walls and shear walls. These are separated from the facade and are placed inside the building along the axis of the ridge. They have two functions. When they are transverse, they act as stiffeners, in other words, they guarantee the stability of the building and form a support for the facade walls to support the loads from the upper floors.
When they are longitudinal and built in the direction of the length, these shear walls form the bracing. Their mission is in particular to balance the floors. Namely that depending on their positioning, the partitions make it possible to delimit the spaces in the house. The transverse walls in particular are at the origin of the rooms in a row. When it is longitudinal, the partition makes it possible to obtain what is called a “body-double”. The presence of two longitudinal walls meanwhile gives rise to a body-double with corridor.
Ensuring the solidity of a shear wall
The construction of an interior separating load-bearing wall is not simple. Several rules must be observed. First, concerning the foundations, it is essential to create foundation footings under the slab when building the shear. It is crucial to ensure the perfect verticality of the wall so that it can rest on the foundations. All this will guarantee the stability of the whole structure.
In addition, a reinforcement and a consolidation of the walls are to be undertaken by means of a chaining which can be vertical or horizontal. Don’t forget to treat any thermal bridges appearing at the partition/facade junctions. At these points, the insulation is faulty, which causes heat and energy losses. It is advisable to use thermal bridge breakers which will reduce heat loss. The whole is to be reinforced by a classic insulation.
Modifying a shear wall: possible?
Since the shear wall is strategic in the solidity of a building, its creation must be carried out by an architect and its construction by a building professional. Its modification or deletion is subject to even stricter rules. If it is a party wall or if you live in a condominium, you should already know that it will not be possible to knock down this load-bearing wall without authorization.
You must make a preliminary declaration of work to the town hall before starting the work and also obtain the approval of your syndic of co-ownership. Note that knocking down a shear wall is done according to a very specific protocol. Do not consider doing the work yourself if you have no special knowledge or skills in the matter. You risk weakening the structure of your house or worse, causing it to collapse.