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Frame Structures vs. Load-Bearing Structure

A superstructure is the part of the building above the ground floor and does not include the foundation or the plinth level. A superstructure in construction is the upper portion of the building, and the foundation and everything below it makes up the substructure. Superstructures exist in many forms - buildings, bridges, and tunnels - but they all have something in common: they sit on top of a foundation or base structure. These superstructures are classified into load-bearing and frame structures based on the method of load. 

When planning your next construction project, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to foundation systems. Framed foundations are the most common type of foundation used in residential construction projects today, while load-bearing foundations are typically used in commercial buildings, though they can also be found in more expensive homes with basements. But what’s the difference between framed and load-bearing structures? Read on to find out!

What is a load-bearing structure?

 

Frame Structures vs. Load-Bearing Structure

In load-bearing structures, the walls bear the load and transfer it to the foundation structure. Almost all the walls in such a structure take on the load, unlike a frame structure where the walls act only as a partition between rooms and have no load-bearing functions.

All the walls in a load-bearing structure are provided with individual foundations, which are then connected with deeper sub-soil foundations. Made from brick or stones, the thickness of these load-bearing walls decreases at every floor, with the walls at bottom-most floors being the thickest. These structures are also characterized by a continued pattern of walls, one below the other for support. 

The load-bearing structure was popular until the 1900s and offered limited opportunities for windows or ventilation elements to avoid any compromise to the load-bearing capabilities. Buildings that feature load-bearing structures cannot have any changes made to the walls at any point. One of the biggest advantages frame structures have over load-bearing ones is that the frames are more resistant to seismic forces.

Due to their complexity, load-bearing structures usually rely on a foundation onto which the weight is transferred. To ensure that their structure is safe, a structural engineer will assess each individual piece of support for weaknesses or failures. The engineer will determine how much weight each of the load-bearing walls will bear, looking at the design and other factors like the number of people in the house and the intended use of the various parts of the house.

Design Everest has been helping its clients create safe, sustainable, and compliant homes and other buildings. The company has created a strong position in California’s construction services market with its exemplary work in the industry for over 15 years. It offers an array of services and can help you with questions like- What type of structure is ideal for your project? Or which foundation is used in load-bearing structures?

 

What is a frame structure?

In a frame structure, the building is supported by the frame or skeleton of the structure, i.e., the posts and beams. Framed structures support their own weight through lines of steel girders, steel rebar, wooden studs, concrete, stone, or other materials called framing members. A load-bearing member is a structural element whose function is to carry a load. A framed structure (also called a frame) is any structure that holds an external load and is rigid, meaning that it does not deform when a load is applied and does not move when a load is removed.

These framing members connect to one another to create sturdy platforms that can hold tremendous weight without bending or collapsing while resisting gravity or any lateral load. These are often used in high-rise buildings and large construction projects because they’re relatively simple to construct. Examples of framed structures include- A house with a wooden frame where lumber is assembled into four vertical columns (often called bents) that span from floor to ceiling. Each column is reinforced by horizontal studs, which can support walls, floors, and roofs. In some cases, load-bearing columns are reinforced with bracing elements such as cross beams for added stability.

The walls in such a structure are merely to allocate functionality to different rooms and are not for bearing any load and so do not need any foundation. The walls do not go lower than the plinth beam, and only the columns are needed to be provided with a strong foundation.

Their greatest advantage, however, is that framed structures allow for creativity on a grand scale. A framed structure is just a set of rules governing how all the parts fit together. Because the rules are simple, and walls do not have to be placed in a continuous pattern one over the other, the rooms and floors can be designed in an almost infinite variety of ways.

The number of floors you can build with a load-bearing structure is usually limited to three, while a frame structure has no such limit. The kind of structure suitable for your home will depend on how many stories you intend to have in your home.

If you are looking for an experienced structural engineer or a team of construction experts to help you understand what type of superstructure is ideal for your home or commercial project, you can get in touch with Design Everest.  We can take care of all of your construction needs – whether it is for remodeling or building a new home. Our experts know the local laws pertaining to construction very well and have helped over 6000 projects. Contact us today to get a free quote and to know more about how we can help you.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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