Major Types of Walls In Home Construction

Discover what wall types exist and what makes them different

Updated on:

Even if you are not planning to master the contractor profession, knowing what types of walls exist can be useful. For example, if you decide to build or buy a house of your own, you should know what type of walls it has. It will allow you to understand how long-lasting the building might be and what nuances it might have with those walls. Today, we are going to tell you about the major wall types and their distinctions. You will learn what they are and how those unique features affect how the walls work.

Types of Walls In a House

You might think all the walls are identical, but it’s not like that. Depending on the type of construction, its walls will differ. Three different wall types can be considered the major ones. They are:

  1. residential walls
  2. institutional walls
  3. commercial walls

What makes them distinct, you may wonder? Below, we explain this in detail. 

Architect designs different types of walls, blueprint

The Residential Wall Type

Residential walls are the walls that are used in residential buildings like homes and apartments. This wall type may utilize different insulated substances for its interior cavities, such as fiberglass, cellulose, foam, and polystyrene. 

The Residential Wall Type

The Institutional Type of Walls In Construction

The institutional wall type is considered one of the most long-lasting types of walls due to its high durability. This wall type is made of rock or concrete masonry, which provides the structure, with water, air, vapor, and thermal control layers outside that surface. 

This wall type has a gypsum board interior and dries from the control layers out and from the control layers in. This provides institutional walls with moisture adaption capabilities, allowing them to function in many different climate conditions. 

The Commercial Wall Type In Construction

The commercial wall type uses steel studs instead of masonry. Like the institutional wall, the interior is lined with gypsum board here. However, its interior steel stud cavity doesn’t contain much insulation. Nevertheless, since this wall type uses steel, a thermal conductor, energy transfer across the structure from outside to inside is very high. As a result, it is almost impossible to control wall temperature through cavity insulation.

Therefore, this wall type uses control layers on the outside of its structure. To deal with steel framing, designers can insulate the wall on the exterior with continuous insulation. This will help prevent heat and cold from reaching the framing. 

Now that you know what major wall types exist let’s see what other ways of wall definition can be found out there.

How Walls Are Defined Depending On the Material They Are Made Of

From the constructional point of view, house walls can be divided into three categories we mentioned above (residential, institutional, and commercial). However, there are other ways of defining walls, and one of them is the material the walls are made of. From this perspective, you can name the following categories of walls:

  1. Drywall walls
  2. Plaster walls
  3. Wood paneling
  4. Brick
  5. Concrete Stucco

What are they all about? Let’s have a quick look!

  • Drywall. A common type of wall found in houses that were built before the mid-20th century. Drywall is nailed up over wood studs and painted.
  • Plaster. This type of wall is found in older houses, such as turn-of-the-century homes up to mid-century homes. This wall type is defined by the studs that are covered with wooden walls. Plaster is applied over them.
  • Wood paneling. A common wall type that was used in the 1970s.
  • Brick. Brick walls are excellent accent walls because they are all about stability and warmth.
  • Concrete. This wall type resists termites, rot, rust, and damage from wind and rain.
  • Stucco. This type of wall is made of plaster applied in two to three coats and then finished with trowels, brushes, or other items.

But except for the materials used for the wall construction, walls can be categorized in terms of design too.

Wall Types From the Perspective of Construction Work/Design

If we look at wall types from the perspective of their design or construction work, we will see that there are two major wall types. 

  1. Load-bearing walls
  2. Non-load bearing walls

You might have heard these definitions, but do you know what exactly they mean? If you don’t, here is a brief and easy-to-understand explanation!

Load-Bearing Walls

Load-bearing walls hold the weight of the house above by distributing the weight down to the foundation. How do you know it is a load-bearing wall? On a load-bearing wall, there will be joists straight over each stud so that the point load of the stud goes all the way to the slab below. Besides, if there are floor joists above running perpendicular to the wall, it is also a sign that it is a load-bearing wall. 

From a construction point of view, load-bearing walls serve as a skeleton of the entire building since they provide strength to the whole structure. This is why a load-bearing wall is usually constructed with sturdy, durable wall materials such as thick wooden beams, concrete, brick, or steel. 

Non-Load Bearing Walls

As you can guess from their name, structures that don’t hold up the weight of the house above are called non-load-bearing walls. They are used to divide the space into smaller areas, which is why this wall type is sometimes called “panel,” “partition,” or “curtain” walls.

Since non-load-bearing walls are used to divide a space into smaller sections, they don’t hold up significant amounts of weight. As a result, they can be constructed with more delicate wall materials. 

Now you know what two major wall types exist in terms of their construction and design. This information will help you better understand which walls in your home are load-bearing and thus must never be moved during the renovation projects (otherwise, it will result in huge damage!).

What Types of Wall Finish Can Be Used

When you are building a house, you can’t just leave the interior walls unfinished! The final touch will always be the application of some sort of finish, be it paint, tiles, etc. Depending on what exactly you use, the interior walls can also be divided into several types or categories.

Painted Walls

Paint is one of the most common finishes we use to make our interior and exterior walls look attractive and nice. Painting the walls is the easiest way to refresh the whole look of the living space and create the vibe we want. 

Different types of paint allow you to achieve the desired effect on your walls. Besides, with such a wide variety of colors that we have today, you can easily create a space that will express your personality and make your home look and feel exactly as you want!

Wood Finish

For a homey feel, you can use timber finishings. There are many varieties today, from sleek and polished wooden panels to rustic-chic repurposed barn boards. Wood comes in many colors and can be completed with a smooth and glossy stain or not finished at all. Thanks to the wide variety of finishes and textures, a wooden finish can look great in any room and fit any style.

Wood finishings can also be painted. Because of the inherent texture, the wooden panels add character to the finished surface. In some cases, such as pickling, the wood’s texture is still clearly visible beneath the paint.

Decorative Wall Plaster

Decorative plaster has four primary forms: structural, textural, Venetian, and mineral. Plasters are applied over wood or sheetrock and can be used on the interior or exterior walls.

Structural plasters are designed to create a pattern over a surface area, but most structural plaster varieties have a non-uniform appearance once used as a finish. Usually, the consistency is quite thick, and it needs to be applied by hand. 


Tiles can become another easy and multifunctional way of decorating your walls, both interior and exterior. Tiles come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Besides, they may have various textures. This allows you to choose tiles that will create an eye-catching effect in your home. 

Now you know what types of decorative materials can be used to make your walls look more attractive. The best thing about them is that you can use several at a time! For instance, you can paint your interior walls and use tiles on certain parts of them (e.g., on your kitchen backsplash or in your bathroom). This will add personality to the space and make a room look more beautiful and appealing!

Well, this is all we wanted to tell you about the wall types today. As you can see, walls can be not only exterior or interior! There are different ways of dividing them into categories, and today, you have learned which ones exactly.

Now you know that walls can be load-bearing and non-load bearing. Also, you learned what types of walls exist depending on the finishing you use on them. Finally,  we explained how walls may differ in terms of the material they are made of. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Materials Can Walls Be Made Of?

Walls can be made of brick, plaster, concrete, wood, and drywall.

Which Wall Type Is The Most Durable?

Concrete walls are one of the most durable ones.

Which Wall Type Is The Best For Accent Walls?

Brick walls work best as accent walls due to their stability.

Publication date: