What is a Shear Wall
Definition of Shear Wall in Construction
The term shear wall is used on construction projects to indicate any assembly that forms a stiffening wall within the structure, which is constructed to provide shear resistance within the structure. The easiest understanding of a shear wall is any wall that is considered a stiffening application within the building. Stair towers, elevator towers, even air shafts can be designed by the structural engineer as a shear wall assembly, based on their method of design and construction. A block wall that is heavily reinforced with steel reinforcing rods and heavily grouted could be considered a shear wall if so designed. A poured in-place elevator shaft that is heavily reinforced to accommodate the shear forces within the structure can be considered a shear wall if designed properly by the structural engineer. With the updated hurricane code requirements, even wood structures are being designed with special shear walls engineered by heavy sheathing installation on wood framing. Shear is a very important aspect of structural design in buildings, and the taller the structure, the more shear is developed within the structure. The need to design and installation of shear walls has added substantial costs to many projects and the location of the project will be a primary determining factor as to the required shear strength of the structural design.