What Is A Shearwall

What Is a Shearwall

A shearwall is a vertical structural element in a building that resists lateral loads caused by wind, seismic activity, or other horizontal loads. Shearwalls provide stability to a building and prevent the building from excessive lateral movements during these events. Shear walls are typically constructed of reinforced plywood nailed to wood framing, reinforced concrete, or reinforced masonry and are located throughout the building transfer the lateral loads to the foundation.

The primary function of a shearwall is to resist horizontal forces that can cause the building to twist or collapse. There are three critical components to every shearwall: the connection at the top of the wall, the strength of the wall itself and the ability to deliver loads to the bottom of the wall, and the connection at the bottom of the shearwall.

Connection At Top of Wall

The connection from the top of a shearwall to the floor or roof diaphragm above is how the lateral load is induced into the wall.

Strength of Shearwall

Engineers call this the internal stability. The shearwall needs to be designed and built to withstand the lateral loads that are delivered to the wall.

Connection At Bottom of Wall

The connection at the bottom of the shearwall transfers the lateral load to the wall below or to the foundation system. In addition, holdowns are added at the designated ends of shearwalls to resist the vertical uplift force that occurs at the ends of shearwalls.

More Information

Shearwalls are often located at the building's perimeter, forming the building's outer shell, or they can be placed within the interior to create a braced frame configuration. In larger buildings, shearwalls can also be located at strategic locations at the building’s interior. Interior shearwall locations are carefully selected because shearwalls must be supported by a foundation system at the bottom level of the building, and it is not always desirable to place an additional foundation stemwall at the interior of the crawl space.

Shearwall Pro is software designed to quickly analyze the shearwalls of a building. One of the greatest strengths of Shearwall Pro is the ability to very quickly perform a what-if analysis that enables the most efficient shearwall design for a building to become apparent.

How Shearwalls Resist Lateral Forces In A Building
Wind and Seismic Loads on a Building