Frame Structures vs. Load-Bearing Structure

A superstructure is the portion of a building located above the ground floor, excluding the foundation and plinth level. The superstructure is the upper component of a building, while the substructure consists of the foundation and everything below it. There are numerous types of superstructures, including buildings, bridges, and tunnels, but they all have one thing in common: they rest on a foundation or base structure. Based on the method of load, these superstructures are classed as load-bearing or frame structures.

When planning your next construction project, there are numerous foundation system alternatives from which to pick. Today, framed foundations are the most frequent type of foundation used in residential construction, whereas load-bearing foundations are primarily employed in commercial structures, but they can be found in pricier homes with basements. But what differentiates framed buildings from load-bearing structures? Read on to discover!

What Is a Load-bearing Structure?

In load-bearing structures, the load is supported by the walls and transferred to the foundation structure via the walls. Almost all of the walls in such a structure bear the load, as opposed to a frame structure in which the walls serve simply as room dividers and have no load-bearing duties.

Each wall of a load-bearing structure has its own foundation, which is then connected to deeper subsoil foundations. The thickness of these load-bearing walls, which are composed of bricks or stones, reduces from level to floor, with the thickest walls located on the ground floor. Additionally, these constructions are distinguished by a continuous pattern of supporting walls.

The load-bearing construction was common until the early 1900s and gave restricted window and ventilation options to avoid compromising the structure’s load-bearing capacity. Wall modifications are never permitted in buildings with load-bearing structures. The greater resistance of frame structures to seismic forces is one of the greatest advantages frame structures have over load-bearing ones.

Because of their intricacy, load-bearing structures often transfer their weight to a foundation. To ensure the structural integrity of a building, a structural engineer will inspect each individual support for flaws or breakdowns. The engineer will evaluate how much weight each load-bearing wall can support based on the structure’s design and other considerations, such as the number of occupants and the intended use of the various rooms.

What Is a Frame Structure?

In a frame structure, the building is supported by the structure’s frame or skeleton, which consists of the posts and beams. Framing members are the lines of steel girders, steel rebar, hardwood studs, concrete, stone, or other materials that sustain the weight of framed constructions. A load-bearing member is a structural element with the purpose of bearing weight. A framed structure (sometimes termed a frame) is any structure that supports an external load and is rigid, meaning it does not bend or move when weight is added or removed.

These framing members are connected to one another to produce platforms that can support a substantial amount of weight without bending or collapsing while also resisting gravity and any lateral load. These are frequently employed in high-rise structures and huge construction projects due to their ease of construction. A house with a wooden frame where lumber is built into four vertical columns (commonly called bents) that span from floor to ceiling is an example of framed construction. Each column is strengthened with horizontal studs that can support walls, floors, and ceilings. For extra stability, load-bearing columns are sometimes reinforced with bracing devices such as cross beams.

The walls in such construction are not load-bearing and so do not require a foundation because they just serve to divide rooms functionally. The walls do not extend below the plinth beam, and only the columns require a sturdy base.

The greatest benefit of framed structures is that they allow for expansive innovation. A framed structure is nothing more than a set of rules that control how all the components fit together. Because the criteria are simple and walls are not required to be set in a continuous pattern, rooms and floors can be designed in a nearly unlimited number of ways.

A load-bearing structure can typically support no more than three levels, whereas a frame structure has no such limit. The type of construction suited for your home will depend on the number of stories you plan to have.

Related Articles