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Last edited 27 Oct 2022
 What is a partition wall?
Partitions are non-load bearing walls that separate spaces in buildings. Structurally, they only support themselves, and do not support or transfer primary loads from other parts of the building, however, they may perform a secondary structural role, for example supporting cupboards or shelving.
Unlike partitions, load-bearing walls (sometimes referred to as 'bearing walls'), support structural load in addition to their own weight and are an active structural element of the building, transferring loads from other parts of the structure towards the foundations.
 What types of partition wall are there?
Partition walls can be solid, typically constructed from brick or blockwork, or can be a framed construction. Framed partition walls are sometimes referred to as stud walls, and can be constructed from a timber, steel or aluminium frames clad with boarding such as plasterboard, timber, metal or fibreboard. Partition walls may also be glazed. They may be purpose-designed and constructed or may be modular systems, and can incorporate openings, windows, doors, ducting, pipework, sockets, wiring, skirting, architraves and so on.
Frame constructions may include insulation to prevent the passage of sound or fire between adjacent spaces. It is important therefore that the top and bottom of the wall are properly sealed against the floor and ceiling and where there are openings, such as doors or duct penetrations. Where a raised floor or suspended ceiling is present, it is important to consider the potential for ‘flanking’ through the voids above and below the partition.
As they are non-load bearing, partition walls can provide good flexibility, particularly if they are lightweight, framed systems, as wall positions can be changed relatively easily and inexpensively without impacting on the overall structure of a building. Depending on the nature of the construction, it may be possible to re-use some, or all of the components of the wall in a different location.
Partitions may extent the full height of a space, from floor to ceiling, or they may be have a reduced height, for example separating workstations within a larger, open plan room, but leaving the space above them open.
 Types of moveable partition wall
- Pipe and drape systems with telescopic or fixed horizontal and vertical components that create a removable panel system.
- Free-standing screens.
- Folding partitions.
- Sliding partitions with tracks attached to the floor and ceiling.
- Movable partitions are commonly found in exhibitions spaces, hotels, offices and so on.
 Partition wall specification
The specification of partition walls will depend on the requirements for weight, cost, speed of installation, availability of materials, longevity, durability, flexibility, ease of reconfiguration, sound and fire insulation and surface finish.
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