- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 25 Oct 2018
A shear force is a force applied perpendicular to a surface, in opposition to an offset force acting in the opposite direction. This results in a shear strain. In simple terms, one part of the surface is pushed in one direction, while another part of the surface is pushed in the opposite direction.
This is different to compression, which occurs when the two opposing forces are pushing into each other at the same point (i.e. they are not offset), resulting in compressive stress.
When a structural member experiences failure by shear, two parts of it are pushed in different directions, for example, when a piece of paper is cut by scissors.
Large or high-rise buildings must be designed with shear walls to provide resistance to shear forces, which might otherwise push over parallel structural elements of a building, in what is known as racking. For more information, see Shear wall.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Bearing capacity.
- Bending moment.
- Biaxial bending.
- Building foundations.
- Concept structural design of buildings.
- Defects in construction.
- Lateral loads.
- Limit state design.
- Shear wall.
- Structural principles.
- The design of temporary structures and wind adjacent to tall buildings.
- Types of structural load.
Featured articles and news
The structural feasibility of modular high-rise buildings.
BRE conference on ways of providing and maintaining quality indoor environments.
CDBB publish foundational definitions and values to guide the development of the National Digital Twin.
Despite the reduction in staffing, most users remain satisfied with the service.
We run through the top 37 styles in history - but how many would you recognise?
Improving approaches to risk in the built environment sector.
Megatrends: Smart Building Technology
Share your BREEAM knowledge to help improve the industry.
Are you innovating without realising it?
Is timber a carbon source rather than a carbon sink?