Types of Structures

The structural system may be composed of three basic types of structures.

A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in an object or system, the load may have a vertical or lateral impact on structural components.

Structures might be seen in many models, i.e. concrete, framed, shell, membrane, truss, cables and arches, surface structure, and many others.

They are principally classified on the basis of geometry because they resist various loads as it is the geometric configuration of the structure that defines its load resisting capability.

Different types of structures in Construction:

1.Load bearing structure:

In a load-bearing structure, the weight of the structure is transferred to the walls in the form of roofs, floors supported directly on the walls.

The walls transfer the load to the underlying soil through wall footing suitable and economical for two to four storey.

As the number of floors increases, the wall thickness also reduces the carpet area due to its load-bearing function.

The wall footings are built directly on hardened levels, while this structure is adopted where hard strata are available at shallow depths.

These days only temporary or less important structures are constructed in load-bearing.

Advantages of Load bearing structure:

  1. The load-bearing structure constructed is highly durable and solid.
  2. These types of structures have high fire resistance.
  3. Masonry units are available in various colors and textures which gives freedom of creativity.
  4. These structures do not require advanced preparation.
  5. They are aesthetically appealing.
  6. Tools and equipment used for masonry construction are simple and cheap.

Disadvantages of Load bearing structure:

  1. These structures perform poorly during earthquake action.
  2. Their construction employs more labor.
  3. This masonry construction is slow.
  4. They consume a large number of masonry units.
  5. The cost of the total masonry units used to construct these structures makes it unreliable.
  6. This structure has more weight.
  7. The thermal insulation properties of these structures are very poor.

2.Framed Structure:

In this framed structures, the load is transferred to the underlying soil through a frame of slabs, beams, columns and footings.

The slab and beam are flexural members in which the slabs resting on the beam while the beams transfer the load to the columns eventually connected to the footings resting on the soil which carry the load to the hard strata.

Types of framed structures:

1. Light-frame structure:

The light-frame material is most often wood or rectangular steel, tube or channel, while pieces of wood are usually attached to fastener nails or screw-steel pieces are attached to nuts and bolts.

Exterior finishes for walls and ceilings include plywood or composite sheathing, brick or stone surfaces and various plaster finishes.

Interior wall coverings in a light-frame structure typically include wallboard, plank, plaster, decorative wood, or fiberglass paneling.

In natural buildings, straw bales, cob can be used for both exterior and interior walls.

The light-frame structures are built above the basement with a crawlspace,wood or steel which extends between the foundation’s walls.

They are usually constructed of powdered concrete or lightweight concrete blocks that allow enclosing a large area with low cost.

The wood-framed construction is the most popularLY used for homes in the United States and some parts of Europe.

2. Timber Structure:

In timber structure, various structural members such as joysticks, studs, rafters, purlins, etc. are mainly made of wood materials which have good compressive, tensile and flexural strength.

There are two types of timber frame structures such as balloon frame structure and platform frame structure.

The platform frame structure can be used to erect a two-story platform frame house as they are better than the balloon levelling structure.

3. R.C.C. Frame Structure:

R.C.C. framed structures are a very common type of framed structure used in modern buildings as it is concrete that consists of steel bars called reinforcement bars or rebars.

These types of structures consist of a frame or skeleton of concrete consisting of steel bars, the horizontal members are called beams and the vertical members are called a column.

Various structural members such as slabs, beams, columns, footings are strongly interconnected.

In short, the RCC framed structure is basically attached to each other as a unit of the slab, beam, column, and foundation.

These structures are capable of resisting various loads such as dead load, live load, dynamic load, wind load, earthquake-load.

Monolithic construction is possible with RCC framed structure that can resist vibration, shock, earthquake, wind load, live load, etc.

Advantages of framed structure:

  1. Columns and footings are compression members of the frame.
  2. The walls do not carry the load except their own weight, which is transferred to the beam on which they are supported, thus the walls serve the purpose of enclosing the structure.
  3. These types of structures can be multi-storey more than 100 storey buildings can be constructed.
  4. The frame can be constructed using reinforced cement concrete or steel.
  5. Construction speed is faster than load-bearing construction.
  6. Due to the use of precast concrete members and ready mixed concrete the speed of construction can be further increased.
  7. If rigid wires are not available at considerable depth, pile foundation or raft foundation may be employed over load-bearing construction.

Disadvantages of framed structure

  1. Spans greater than 40 feet can cause lateral deflections.
Also read: Grain storage structures, Pneumatic Structures & Folded plate structures

3.Composite structure:

Composite structure is a combination of load-bearing structure and frame structure.

Exterior walls may be load-bearing structures, while column and beam structures may be provided internally thus floors and ceilings are supported by walls and frames.

These types of structures are generally adopted for industrial sheds or warehouses where spans are very large.

Advantages of Composite structure:

  1. Composite structures are highly resistant to heat and electricity.
  2. They are lighter weight than traditional materials, so the structures made of composites are easy to carry and install.
  3. These types of structures are flexible, engineers can design structures according to their requirements.

Disdvantages of Composite structure:

  1. The construction of this structure is highly economical.
  2. It requires skilled labor for construction.
Also read: RCC Framed Structure, Prefabricated Structure, Shell Structure & Space Frame Structure

Difference between composite, frame & load-bearing structure:

AspectLoad Bearing StructureFrame StructureComposite Structure
Soil ConditionLoad bearing structure is suitable for hard strata are available at shallow depth.Frame structure is suitable for any type at any depth.Composite structure is suitable for hardening wire required at shallow depth.
Floor spaceLow floor area is available due to thick walls.More floor area due to thinner walls.Intermediate floor area is available.
HeightUp to 4 storeys are allowed.Multistoried construction is possible.Mostly 2 storey structures.
TimeSlow and time-consuming construction.Less time is required.Intermediate time is required.
EconomyAffordable up to 2 storeys.Economical for multistoried floors.Less expensive than frame structure.
Flexibility in planningLess flexible due to load.Flexible due to walls serving planning as partitions only.Internal arrangements can be modified.
Also read: Types of Foundation, Types of Buildings, Types of Flooring


There are generally 3 types of structures in construction, the choice depends on the extent, type, economy of construction and type of land.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of Constructionor.com, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

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