Know Your Wall Types
All walls are the same, right?
While walls may look alike, there are, in fact, a number of different types, each with different and important purposes beyond the aesthetic.
In this guide, we explore the most common wall types in new-build properties of standard construction and why they are used.
Definition of a Wall
According to Approved Document B of the UK Building Regulations, a ‘wall’ includes the following:
- The surface of glazing (except glazing in doors).
- Any part of a ceiling that slopes at an angle of more than 70 degrees to the horizontal.
However, Approved Document B (Volume 1) states that a wall does not include:
- Doors and door frames.
- Window frames and frames in which glazing is fitted.
- Architraves, cover moulds, picture rails, skirtings and similar narrow members.
- Fireplace surrounds, mantle shelves and fitted furniture.
Common Types of Wall
Cavity wall: This type is constructed from both an outer skin of masonry (which could be either block or brick) and an inner skin (commonly constructed from blockwork). As the name suggests, the inner and outer skins are separated by a cavity to prevent moisture ingress and allow for insulation. These are often used as external walls because of the insulation they provide. 1
Compartment wall: This wall type is designed to prevent the spread of smoke and heat. As such, these can be viewed as a fire-resistance measure. A compartment wall can be either load-bearing or non-load-bearing. 2
External wall: External walls enclose the space. It is defined as any opaque part of the external envelope of a building that is at an angle of 70° or more to the horizontal. These are commonly composed of brickwork. 3
Party wall: This wall type separates two or more properties and is shared by the owners. This wall type is commonly found amongst semi-detached and terraced properties but will not be found with a detached build. 4
Partition Wall: Unlike cavity and external walls, partition walls are non-load bearing and separate internal spaces/rooms of a building. They are found in almost all properties and can help with privacy and notice reduction while adding an element of fire protection. 5
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1 https://www.modernmasonry.co.uk/Precast/media/BPMediaLibrary/Publications/MMA_EasyGuide_CavityWalls.pdf 2https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Compartment_wall 3 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/431943/BR_PDF_AD_C_2013.pdf 4 http://www.whmatthews.com/site/library/whm_blog/what-is-a-party-wall 5https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Partition_wall