What is Load Bearing Structure (Load Bearing Vs Framed Structure)

What Is Load Bearing Structure

Load Bearing Structure is the most widely used form of construction for low-rise and small buildings from the 1700s to the mid-1900s. It is very rarely used today for large buildings, but smaller residential-scale structures are being built.

It essentially consists of thick, heavy masonry walls of brick or stone that support the entire structure, including the horizontal floor slabs, which could be reinforced concrete, wood, or steel members.

What is Load Bearing Structure?

In Load Bearing Structures, Structural load is carried by load bearing wall which transfers this load to the foundation. There is no provision of a column and beam framework in this type of structural system.

What is Load Bearing Structures
Load Bearing Structure

A load bearing structure has the components of a building that carries and transfers the load to the ground safely. This load bearing structure guarantees the strength and stability of the building & its performance.

Such constructions are used in residential buildings in which the dimensions of rooms are less. Residential and commercial buildings up to ground floor + 2 floors can be constructed economically with load-bearing structures.

Read More: The Standard Room Size & Location in Residential Building

Components of Load Bearing Structure/Building

The main load-bearing structural elements are:

  1. Load Bearing Walls
  2. Beams
  3. Columns
  4. Braces
  5. Trusses

1. Load Bearing Walls

A load-bearing wall conveys the loads from slabs above it to the foundation. These walls can be made of masonry or block materials. Most of the exterior walls of a building structure are considered load-bearing.

Removal of the load-bearing wall as a part of renovation must be conducted only after providing alternative support for the above-supported structures.

2. Beams

Beam forms one of the primary load-bearing components of structure which can be made from wood, concrete, or metal. The beam is a primary structural member utilized to take the load on the building. The strength and capacity to withstand a load of load-bearing structures depend on the depth & width of the beam element.

The beam is subjected to a higher amount of shear and compressive force as they have a high amount of internal and external forces.

3. Columns

These structural elements are one of the important parts in a structure which have a significant role in the transmission of dead and live loads to the foundation that the building structure is subjected to.

4. Braces

Braces are the structural elements used in the load bearing structural system. These load-bearing elements help in stiffening the framework effectively.

5. Trusses

Trusses are load-bearing elements that support the roof elements in the building structure. The loading from roof are uniformly or evenly transmitted to the trusses.

The trusses are subjected to tension & compression forces. The trusses are not subjected to any kind of moment.

Read More: Structural Components of Building and Their Standard Dimensions

Load Bearing Structure Details

The following is the load bearing structure section and some structural criteria which has to be considered while constructing the load bearing structure:

Load Bearing Structure Details
Load Bearing Structure Details
  • The load bearing structure or building is the structural system where loads of buildings like the weight of the building itself and the live loads get transferred to the subsoil foundation through walls and this structure ensures the performance and stability of the building.
  • A load-bearing structure takes and transmits the load to the subsoil foundation safely and is a component of a building. Walls resist the self-weight of building or structure, the load of roofs, and floor.
  • In this structural system, the most constructive use of load-bearing is seen, and it performs a range of functions from supporting loads, subdividing the space, providing thermal and acoustic insulation to structure, etc.
  • In a load-bearing structure, you cannot punch holes in a wall to connect two rooms – you would damage the structure if you did so.
  • The immense weight of the walls helps to hold the building together and stabilize it against external forces such as wind and earthquake.

Advantages of Load Bearing Structure

  • There are some unique advantages of load-bearing structure such as:
  • All types of load-bearing masonry structures provide substantial fire resistance.
  • The construction materials needed are economical and the construction procedure is simple.
  • The load-bearing building or structure gives high strength & durability to the building.
  • These structures do not require time-consuming preparation to be implemented.
  • Load-bearing masonry buildings are more esthetically appealing.
  • The materials used in load bearing construction are available in different colors & textures providing numerous choices.

Disadvantages of Load Bearing Structure

There are some disadvantages of load-bearing structure which reduced the application of it in building industries such as:

  • This load-bearing structure is best suited for up to 3 stories buildings.
  • Load-bearing masonry structures demand more man-hours to be constructed and are a slower procedure than other construction methods.
  • Masonry units don’t provide adequate thermal insulation against the weather.
  • After the construction, it is not possible to alter the position of the walls.
  • The total weight of the masonry walls is high, which ultimately increases the self-weight of the building.
  • There is poor resistance of masonry walls or do not perform well against earthquake loads, because non-reinforced units cannot withdraw the high tensile and shear stresses when compared to frame structures.

Difference Between Load Bearing Structure and Frame Structure

The major difference between load bearing structure and framed structure is members which carries the structural load and transferring the load to the subsoil. In load-bearing structure, load carried by members like walls, whereas in a framed structure, load carried by members like beams and columns.

Sr. No. Load Bearing Structure Framed Structure
1. The cost is less. Cost is more.
2. Suitable up to two stories. Suitable for any number of stories.    
3. Walls are thicker & hence floor area is reduced, so less area is available for use. Walls are thinner than load-bearing system and hence more floor area available for use.
4. Slow construction. Speedy construction.
5. Not possible to alter the position of walls, after the construction The position of walls may be changed, whenever necessary.
6. Resistance to the earthquake is poor. Resistance to earthquake forces is good.
7. Taken deep into the subsoil foundation. Only the columns are taken deep into the subsoil & provided with foundation footing.
8. This construction is more labor-intensive. Framed structure is less labor-intensive, but it required different skills.
 9. In this construction, life is not much affected even though some standards are not strictly followed. In framed structure, the life of the building is reduced if not done with proper technique, and specifications i.e. codes are not strictly followed.
 10. Limitations for providing openings in walls, which will affect the light and ventilation in the room. Large openings in walls are possible.
 11. Load-bearing structures can be constructed without expensive plants and machines as compared to a framed structure. Framed structures require expensive plants and machines to construct.
 12. Walls have to be built first as they support the slab/roof and hence all walls have to be built simultaneously which is time-consuming. Generally, RCC framed structure is constructed first and the external, as well as partition walls, are constructed later, hence speed is more.
 13. In the case of a load-bearing structure, large span areas are not possible. Limitation of span i.e. room sizes. In the case of a framed structure, large span areas are possible. No Limitation of span i.e. room sizes.

Load-bearing masonry construction is not used so far today because of several reasons, such as it does not perform very well in earthquakes. Most deaths in earthquakes around the world have happened in load-bearing masonry buildings.

It is extremely material-intensive. These load bearing structures consume a lot of bricks, and are very heavy. This means that they are not green.

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