- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 04 May 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 (ie 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
Conservation in the heritage cities of Venice and Liverpool.
Which room is the most fun to design? Find out the 'Grand Designs' presenter's unusual choice in our interview.
Full suite of speakers are announced for this year's BSRIA Briefing event.
Book your place for the Architectural Technology Awards 2018.
There are many ways of classifying types of building. Have a look at our range of building articles.
BSRIA have launched the 'major update' of the go-to design framework guide for building services.
How to get results with building life cycle assessment.
Government publishes a prospectus inviting proposals for new 'garden communities'.
The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa collapses during rainstorm while undergoing maintenance works.
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.