Last edited 22 Sep 2020

What are walls made of?

What walls are made from is largely determined by what basic category they fall into – whether framed wall or solid wall.

Framed walls transfer structural loads to the foundation through columns, studs or posts. In addition to the structural element, they also include insulation and finish elements or surfaces, such as cladding panels.

Solid walls are constructed from a single skin of a solid material, such as masonry, concrete, brick, timber, rammed earth, straw bales, etc. They do not include a cavity between the interior and exterior.

A cavity wall is not framed, but is constructed from two skins of masonry, the outer skin of which can be brickwork, blockwork, or stone, and the inner skin of which is generally of blockwork. These skins (or leaves), are separated by a cavity to prevent the penetration of moisture and to allow for the installation of thermal insulation.

Wall ties span the cavity and tie the internal and external walls of bricks or blockwork together.

For more information, see Cavity wall.

Internal, or partition, walls can be constructed in a number of ways. They are typically constructed from brick or blockwork, or framed, sometimes referred to as stud walls. Stud walls can be constructed from timber, steel or aluminium frames clad with boarding such as plasterboard, timber, metal or fibreboard. They may also be glazed.

For more information, see Partition walls.

Exterior walls can be finished with a wide array of materials and techniques. The term 'cladding' refers to components that are attached to the primary structure of a building to form non-structural, external surfaces. This is as opposed to buildings in which the external surfaces are formed by structural elements, such as masonry walls, or applied surfaces such as render, screed, paint, plaster, natural stone, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and so on.

Cladding materials can include:

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