No matter the type of wall you have, it’s a continuous vertical brick structure that works to define or enclose an area, provides security, carries a load, offers soundproofing, gives you shelter, and much more. Today, you can get types of walls made out of materials like wood, glass, cinder blocks, steel sheets, and there are also wall coverings to consider for interior walls.
So, you can easily divide the types of walls into many subcategories, depending on the material used in the constitution. This includes walls that separate interior rooms, form the fundamental part of a structure, or work to improve how fire-safe a structure is.
What is the Purpose of Different Types of Walls?
Different types of wall serve different purposes. However, there are many core components that almost all types of walls serve, and these things include but are not limited to:
- Acts like a sound shield to block outside noise
- Constructed to define a building’s area
- Defines the building itself while providing support
- Ensures privacy while providing security
- Functions to define a specific area’s boundaries
- In some instances, types of walls carries the roof slab’s load
- Load bearing walls support the building’s load and transfer it to the building’s foundation
As you can see, it’s vital that you know what the different types of walls do in your home or business. This way, you’ll be able to remodel or take out walls without causing massive damage to your home.
A well-built wall can easily last for years without showing any signs of wear or tear, and this includes both interior and exterior walls. Natural Stone Wall by Field Outdoor Spaces / CC BY 2.0
Defining an Interior Wall
Your interior wall is a type of wall that gets enclosed by the building’s exterior walls and siding. They can be both load-bearing and non-load-bearing types of walls. Most non-load-bearing interior walls are also referred to as partition walls. These are the walls that you can take out during a kitchen or room remodel without worrying about compromising the structure of the house.
Usually, you’ll find an interior load-bearing wall directly below or above a second load-bearing wall to help transfer the load to a structural column or beam. On the other hand, a partition type of wall’s position can vary. Even though both types of walls have different functions, they have similar framing standards and functions, including:
- An interior wall can also be part of an exterior wall to provide privacy, security, and safety.
- You could decorate the walls to improve the room’s aesthetic beauty.
- You could use interior walls to create a partition and split a large room into smaller ones.
- Possible to use them as platforms for hanging pictures or decorative materials
12 Types of Walls
There are 12 main types of walls you can have in your home. Different types of walls serve different purposes, so it’s very common to have multiple ones in your home.
1. Boundary Wall
The first type of wall on the list is a boundary wall. This wall will get cast in situ, or it is a prefabricated structure that comes in a large range of designs that works as a fencing or boundary wall of an immovable property. You can call it a fence, wall, or structure enclosure made either on or directly next to a property boundary. Also, it’s possible to have devices like razor ire, barbed wire, or electric fences on top of this type of wall for additional security purposes.
Boundary walls are more common out in the yard to help define a space, but you could also think of interior walls as boundary walls that define different rooms in the house. A load of walls by Frank Pickavant / CC BY-ND 2.0
2. Brick Masonry Wall
Brick is one of the most durable and versatile building materials available, and this is why brick is commonly used in siding projects and different types of walls. Brick walls have been around for thousands of years and undergone several modifications. Common types of brick used in these wall building projects include fly ash clay, concrete, brunt clay, Firebrick, and sand-lime or calcium silicate.
3. Cavity Wall
A cavity wall is made with an inner and outer wall portion, and the cavity is between two to four-inches wide. You can use this type of wall as both an interior or an exterior wall if you vary the thicknesses. A thicker wall will be for the outer wall, and a thinner one will be for a non-load bearing interior wall. The thicker wall will carry all of the slab’s load, and it has to resist external moisture.
4. Core Wall
Building a core wall starts right at the foundation of a building, and this wall will be as high as the building itself is. This type of wall’s purpose is to act as a shear wall and column. It is strong enough to resist external lateral forces like wind, rain, earthquakes, storms, and more. It has to be exactly in the center of a building in order for it to resist the torsion effect of the house.
5. Load-Bearing Wall
A load-bearing wall is a type of wall that functions as a structural element of the building. It holds and supports the weight of the roof or floor structure by transferring the weight from this area to the foundation below it. This is one of the first walls to go up in a new home built during platform framing. It’s also the most common element in lighter construction projects.
6. Non-Load Bearing Wall or Drop Wall
A drop wall or a non-load bearing wall can only support its own weight if you use it as an exterior wall. It’s also capable of resisting the force of the wind blowing against it. However, it’s very important that you note that these walls simply aren’t strong enough to support an imposed load. So, if you expect it to support your roof, it can result in failure. These walls work well as components of buildings or partitions.
7. Parapet Wall
The parapet is the topmost reach of a wall that gives balconies certain protections and extends above the roof level of your home. They also work to protect gutters, walkways, and roofs. This type of wall has several important functions, and it can be designed in different ways to create your desired aesthetic. They also work well to hide various elements on your roof like AC units.
Parapet walls are nice if you have a balcony or rooftop garden because it gives you slightly more protection against the wind, rain, or other elements. Alquerías de Olba en Marchalenes – Valencia by Antonio Marín Segovia / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Precast Wall
Building precast walls out of concrete gets made by casting concrete in a reusable wall form or mold. Then it gets cured in a controlled environment before getting securely transported to the construction site before getting lifted up to the correct installation place. The main reason people install these types of walls is to make the construction process go faster. The walls work as a blind facade or divider that won’t carry any load. However, they must oppose parallel loads that get conferred to it.
9. Retaining Wall
A retaining wall acts like a supportive element to help restrain the soil to a slope that wouldn’t normally hold it in place. You see them on particularly vertical or steep slopes, and the main purpose of this retaining wall is to help hold the soil in place or behind them, depending on the project. The wall can be anything from a smaller landscape stone wall that surrounds your flower bed or garden to huge soil-retaining projects along a freeway in a hilly area.
10. Rubble Stone Masonry Wall
When you put together this type of wall, you arrange large landscape stones together in a configuration that allows you to build a solid wall of varying heights and thicknesses. Ideally, you’ll use larger stones for this project as you want to finish it quickly while giving yourself a stable structure.
11. Shear Wall
This type of wall is a structural panel that features a steel braced frame that can be very effective for when it comes to resisting any lateral forces that act on it. They get constructed from masonry or concrete that is very durable and stable. You’ll find shear walls in high-rise or bigger buildings, and they’re also popular in areas that have frequent seismic activity or lots of high winds. You can position it at the building’s perimeter, or you can use it to form a core that supports the entire structure.
12. Reinforced Brick Wall
A reinforced brick wall is a popular choice if you have a lot of tensile force acting on the wall in question. The reinforcement requirement for a wall to qualify as this type of wall is that it has to have reinforcements in vertical and horizontal directions. In some circumstances, you may asee hoop iron reinforcements that get dipped in tar to make it less prone to rusting.
Seven Popular Types of Interior Wall Materials
There are several materials you can use for interior types of walls, and each one gives off a different aesthetic, and this allows you to create a seamless interior design style that complements the walls beautifully.
As you may have guessed, a brick wall is a vertical structural element that features mortar and bricks. It works to divide the building’s components into different areas. You can use brick walls for interior or exterior walls, including parapets, freestanding walls, internal partitions, retaining walls, and more. In ancient times, people used a slurry of mud to hold the bricks together instead of mortar. Some slurries have been very resilient, and it is flexible enough to get built curved, straight, or in a zigzag model.
In modern construction, this type of wall typically gets used as an external component of a cavity wall. This helps to reduce the thermal transmissions through the wall. However, you will have to put in a foundation with this type of wall, and it’s either a traditional footing or a concrete strip.
Brick walls are a classic piece of architecture that can withstand the elements and look gorgeous for years with minimal maintenance. The Brick Wall. by Pat Dalton… / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cinder Block Wall
Cinder blocks are popular for planters, outdoor shower bases, and as types of walls due to their durability. During construction, you stack your cinder blocks together and join them with mortar to hold them in place using a ratio of sand, cement, and water. The blocks are also hollow, and this allows you to drive steel bars down inside to add more stability and structure to the wall.
Since these are thicker blocks that you can fill with mortar, it acts like a wonderful soundproof barrier. It’s also economical to create, but they will bow if you put too much pressure on them. So, they’re best for smaller walls that are non-load bearing.
A glass wall or partition is an interior wall that features either glass panels with metal frames, or glass panels. To create this glass partition or type of wall, you have to pair the glass panels with metal frames, clamps, or channels to create a non-load-bearing wall. They work well as bathroom partition walls, office dividers, glass wall systems, or as residential building partitions.
You’ll find glass walls more often featured in modern office designs for conference rooms, cubicles, and entryways. You can design this type of wall to fit a range of different spaces and design ideas, and they’ll take up much less floor space than traditional walls. It also allows natural light to stream in and flow through the room, and this reduces the amount of light fixtures you need to have running every day.
Instead of drywall, many people choose to install plywood on their ceilings and walls. So, if you plan on doing a remodeling project or fixing your walls or ceilings, you’ll want to get finished plywood or sheetrock. You should be aware that plywood isn’t exactly visually appealing, but it is very long-lasting, has structurally modifiable features, and it offers a high level of dimensional accuracy.
The type of wall you get with plywood depends on the materials. Ideally, you’ll get high-quality raw materials that are easy to work with without losing any durability. You can choose from numerous designs, based on your wants and needs.
Steel Sheet Wall
Steel sheets for your walls are a more expensive option, but they’re also a durable one with a high strength profile that offers great advantages when used in residential buildings. It also gives you slightly more flexibility than other types of walls, and it bends or flexes slightly without cracking if you apply external force.
You can also choose from a broad range of gauges and finishes that allow you to create beautiful walls very easily. It’s a very popular material in industrial buildings, but it’s also extremely popular for modern or contemporary home designs because it seamlessly combines strength with a unique look.
You’ll find stone walls used throughout the world in several forms. It’s a very ancient concept to build this type of wall, but you can easily modify it to use it in modern buildings or fences. It has a high reliability factor to it, and this is why it’s remained a popular type of wall for hundreds of years. It was originally used by piling loose stones into a dry stone wall.
Also, materials used to build this type of wall are typically locally available, and this can help lower the price. You’ll need things like granite, limestone, ashlars, sandstone, or Portland stone for this project. Portland stone or granite are very resistant to weathering, and they make popular interior or exterior walls.
Stone walls are ancient structures, but they can last for decades while adding a whimsical and classic touch to your home or yard. Stone, wall, texture by Bart Lumber / CC0 1.0
There are several common types of wood used when it comes to make this type of wall, including maple, oak, cherry, mahogany, teak, and walnut. They are slightly more expensive, but it evens out due to the longevity and durability you get with wooden walls or floors.
Wooden walls are particularly popular as internal walls where they’re out of the elements, and you can also find wooden doors, window frames, and furniture. There are dozens of colors and hues available too, and this allows you to create different looks in your room or home.
Five Main Types of Load-Bearing Walls
When it comes time to pick out your load-bearing walls, you get six main choices. Some will work better for certain areas in or out of the house than others, so it’s important to know which one you want to use when you build your extension or do your remodel.
Engineered Brick Wall
This type of wall comes built to give your space resistant to frost or water while adding strength to the structure. You may find this type of wall in any areas where damp-proofing is a must, including general groundworks, basements, or sewers. It also has a very nice external finish that helps prevent issues with frost while providing a highly aesthetic look and feel to the home.
A masonry load-bearing wall is capable of providing a huge amount of strength and architectural beauty to a space. It has a higher fire-resistance, and it helps regulate your room temperatures on hot or cold days to keep your heating and cooling costs down. It also requires little or no maintenance.
Precast Concrete Wall
Any precast concrete wall offers strength and durability, and it’s relatively easy and straightforward to install. This wall gets created in a factory and transported to the construction site after it cures. You’ll get fire-resistance, a high level of durability, thermal resistance, moisture resistance, and protection with it.
This type of wall is very sturdy and stable, and it can easily withstand exposure to rain, wind, or other elements without cracking or chipping. Concrete walls by pelennor / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Pre-Panelized Load-Bearing Metal Wall
This type of wall comes made out of metal like aluminum, copper, or stainless steel. It helps to ensure that the exterior wall cladding can survive wind loading, seismic activity, and gravity as it pushes the weight of the structure or components down on it.
A load-bearing retaining wall has a very rigid nature that helps it support the soil. They get designed to help hold the soil back on a sloped surface to prevent landslides. You can break them down into several different categories, including brick masonry retaining walls, gravity retaining walls, reinforced retaining walls, and stone masonry retaining walls.
Five Main Types of Brick Bond
If you choose to have a brick wall, you have to decide what type of brick bond you want to use. There are currently five main types to consider, and they include:
A Dutch bond is a pattern for laying the bricks to build the type of wall. You get this pattern by placing alternative stretchers and headings in a single course. The bond is very close to the English bond that uses a stretcher and header. However, you’ll use a ¾ bat of a stretcher for this type of bond.
The English bond is one of the strongest available for any brick type of wall. It does need more facing bricks than any other type of bond, but this is why it’s the strongest. If you have brick flooring, you have an English bond. This bond refers to one course of a header placed below one course of a stretcher. A pattern will start to emerge as you lay alternate courses of headers and stretchers. It’s popular in load-bearing walls because of the strength.
The Flemish bond is just as well-known as the Dutch bond. You create this bond by laying alternate stretchers and headers in the same single course. You get a slightly better appearance with this bond over the English one, but it isn’t as strong.
A header bond refers to a shorter square span face of the brick. When you use this bond, you place all of the bricks as headers on the wall face. You’ll typically use this type of bond if your particular type of wall has a full brick thickness. Thinner walls use the stretcher bond that we’ll touch on next.
This is the most basic type of brick bond available. You lay your bricks horizontally and flat. The long side is the stretcher, and you’ll lay all bricks as stretchers. You may hear it called a running bond due to the design. The biggest limitation of this bond is that it can’t create an efficient or strong enough bond with full-width bricks. They work well in partition walls that use 1/2-brick thicknesses.
Additional Important Components
Historically, different types of walls have been used purely for functional manners. Every room had four walls that acted like dividers between your home’s rooms. Today, interior designers and homeowners have started to see different types of walls in a whole new light. You can use your walls to define the space, make it flow, and customize how your room looks.
You now know the difference between 24 different types of walls, but there are a few more considerations to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide which one will work best, and we outlined them below for you.
The type of wall you pick out will affect your overall construction process. If you want to do everything yourself, it’s essential that you pick out a type of wall that you can safely create and put up without the help of professionals like engines, designers, or construction teams. Consider your limitations and strengths before you take on this project on your own.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can talk to professionals or watch videos on the subject. This education can expand your abilities, make you more confident, and ensure that you get the correct type of wall that is sturdy and stable in your home that you need. If you can swing it in your budget, consider enlisting the help of professionals. Regardless of which wall you want, whether it’s a non-load-bearing wall in your home or a garden wall in your yard, using professionals will ensure you get top-quality results.
There are several considerations that go into picking out a wall, and keeping them all in mind will ensure you get the correct type of wall that is structurally sound. House construction by Mary Molinaro / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The total cost of your project will depend on the type of wall you want, including load-bearing, non-load-bearing, exterior, or interior. The wall finish will also factor in with some finishes being more expensive, and the size matters. The higher or longer the wall is, the more labor and materials you’ll need. The average cost of an exterior wall will run between $2,500 and $6,000 with labor and materials. While this isn’t cheap, it includes professional-grade labor prices.
If you do the project on your own, you can most likely source most of your materials online. Once you dive in and do your research, you should make a list of your needed supplies. Ideally, you’ll get them from a reputable source, and you can always check in with your local home improvement stores.
You should have the dimensions written down so that you can get a good estimate on how much materials you’ll need to finish your project without running out or having a lot of things left over.
We’ve outlined 24 different types of walls for you, and you can take this information and see which walls you need to create in your home or yard. Once you have a wall type in mind, make sure that you find out how much materials you need, set a budget, and consider hiring professional help to ensure you get safe and lasting results.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.