Concrete Wall Construction Calgary
Materials used in wall construction include brick, stone, concrete, and clay blocks, cast-in-place concrete, rammed earth, sods, lumber sleepers, steel sheets, gabions, and earth-filled structures.
In terms of their function, all walls are either load bearing or non load bearing walls. A load bearing wall is part of the structure of the building - it holds the building up. A non-load bearing wall is only a partition that divides the various rooms of a building. You can demolish a wall if it is a non-load bearing wall; you cannot move or demolish a load bearing wall.
It is not easy for a layman to determine whether a wall is load bearing or not. You must rely on the advice of an experienced, licensed structural engineer. Most modern multi-storey buildings are constructed with structural frames and non-load bearing walls.
These are walls made of brick or cement blocks held together with cement mortar and are often plastered with cement plaster on both surfaces. Cement blocks can also be called Concrete Masonry Units or CMUs, and come in a variety of types, including
- Solid Concrete Blocks
- Hollow Concrete Blocks
- Lightweight Aerated Concrete Blocks
- liFlyash Concrete Blocks
Masonry walls are heavy, and require lots of skilled labour, which means that they are falling out of favor in most countries in which labour is expensive. Their weight is also a problem in high-rise buildings. In concrete or steel buildings, engineers will place beams below all masonry walls, as their weight is too much for a slab to bear. This means that heavy masonry walls cannot be moved around once they are constructed, as they must rest on beams designed to carry their weight.
Other materials for walls include stone or furnace (ceramic) bricks. Stone that is cut into cuboids with smooth faces is called dressed stone, and walls constructed with this type of stone are called ashlar masonry walls. Walls that are made with rough (undressed) pieces of stone are called random rubble walls For brick walls, a common thickness is 230mm(9"), and for concrete block walls, common thicknesses are 200mm(8"), 150mm(6") and 100mm(4"). In the building trade, the thickness of the walls excludes the plaster, so if a wall is plastered on both sides, its actual thickness will be 1" or 1.5" more than its stated thickness in an architectural drawing or contract.
To run electrical, or any other wires or pipes in a brick wall, you have to first chase the wall. Chasing is cutting a long groove in the wall in which you can install your services. Then you can install a conduit - a plastic pipe - in the wall, fill in the gap around the conduit with cement plaster, and then pull your electrical wires through the conduit. This takes time and effort.
Masonry walls cannot be constructed to an unlimited height - broadly speaking, most are considered stable only to a height of 10-15 ft (3 - 4m). To construct a masonry wall higher than that, you have to design a special wall that has intermediate structural members to support the wall. One problem with masonry walls is that they rely mainly on their weight to keep them in place; each block or brick is only loosely connected to the next via a thin layer of mortar. This is why they do not perform well in earthquakes, when entire buildings are shaken horizontally. Many collapses during earthquakes occur in buildings that have load-bearing masonry walls.
As the name indicates, these walls are light and quick to construct. This means that they do not need to rest on pre-planned beams: they can be placed anywhere (as long as engineers have accounted for this in the slab design). This means that they allow for great flexibility in layouts, unlike the heavier masonry walls. They are clearly non-structural in nature.
As their construction is dry, meaning that it does not use cement or water, they are quick to construct, and cause minimal disturbance. This is why these are also called drywall partitions.
Light partition walls are constructed by first building a frame, and then covering this frame with sheets or boards. The gap between the sheets can then be filled with insulating material if desired, or left as is.
The frame is most commonly made of light galvanized steel sections, but can also be made of wood. Pre-punched holes in the metal sections allow electrical and plumbing conduits to pass through.
The most common type of sheeting used to finish the frame is gypsum sheeting. This is inexpensive mass-produced sheeting that is easy to cut and make patch repairs to. Gypsum sheet is not very strong, however, so a powerful kick can crack or break it. Most manufacturers recommend using two layers of sheet for each side of the wall, with a total of 4 layers per wall. Gypsum is also not a water-resistant material, so use in toilets is not recommended.
Another type of sheet that can be used is a fiber cement sheet. This is stronger and highly resistant to water - it can be used outdoors. As its name indicates, the sheet is made up of wood fibers, cement, binders, and fillers. It is denser (heavier) then gypsum sheets