Building Design and Construction

Nonbearing Walls

Nonbearing reinforced-concrete walls, frequently classified as panels, partitions, or cross walls, may be precast or cast in place. Panels serving merely as exterior cladding, when precast, are usually attached to the columns or floors of a frame, supported on grade beams, or supported by and spanning between footings, serving as both grade beams and walls. Cast-in-place cross walls are most common in substructures. Less often, cast-in-place panels may be supported on grade beams and attached to the frame.
In most of these applications for nonbearing walls, stresses are low and alternative materials, such as unreinforced masonry, when supported by beams above grade, or panels of other materials, can be used. Consequently, unless esthetic requirements dictate reinforced concrete, low-stressed panels of reinforced concrete must be designed for maximum economy. Minimum thickness, minimum reinforcement, full benefits of standardization for mass-production techniques, and design for double function as both wall and deep beam must be achieved.
Thickness of nonbearing walls of reinforced concrete should be at least onethirtieth the distance between supports, but not less than 4 in.
The ACI 318 Building Code, however, permits waiving all minimum arbitrary requirements for thickness and reinforcement where structural analysis indicates adequate strength and stability.
Where support is provided, as for a panel above grade on a grade beam, connections to columns may be detailed to permit shrinkage. Friction between base of panel and the beam can be reduced by an asphalt coating and omission of dowels.
These provisions will permit elimination or reduction of horizontal shrinkage reinforcement.
Vertical reinforcement is seldom required, except as needed for spacing the horizontal bars.
If a nonbearing wall is cast in place, reinforcement can be nearly eliminated except at edges. If the wall is precast, handling stresses will often control. Multiple pickup points with rigid-beam pickups will reduce such stresses. Vacuum pad pickups can eliminate nearly all lifting stresses.
Where deep-beam behavior or wind loads cause stresses exceeding those permitted on plain concrete, the ACI 318 Building Code permits reduction of minimum tension-reinforcement [As  200bd/ƒy (Art. 9.46)] if reinforcement furnished is onethird greater than that required by analysis. (For deep-beam design, see Art. 9.88.)

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