Internal Walls Overview
The internal finishes of any building project are critical to the final result and often this area is the one that offers an opportunity for innovation. It is hoped that the vast range of finishes here will prove to be a source of inspiration. You will also be able to find suppliers of cornices, coving, and an extensive range of mouldings that are now available. Products for work such as stud walling and partitioning are also listed here....more
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Internal Walls Explained
Internal walls typically fall in to two categories, load bearing walls sometimes referred to as structural or solid walls, and partition walls. Load bearing walls are constructed from mortar bonded masonry in the form of fired clay bricks or concrete blocks. They support the weight of upper floor levels and conduct this stress vertically on to the foundations. Partition walls are also referred to as stud walls and are generally used to form internal partitioning walls. They are constructed from a timber framework comprising vertical timbers, referred to as 'studs', supported by shorter horizontal inter nailed timbers known as 'noggins'. Partition walls are not strong enough to carry structural loads. The timber frame provides the basic structure on to which sheets of plasterboard are nailed. Prior to attaching plasterboard sheets wall insulation materials can be used to fill the void between the timber framework. Both the thermal and acoustic properties of the insulation should be considered to achieve heat conservation and sound deadening. Sound deadening is particularly important where stud walls separate bedrooms. Once nailed to the studs the edges of the plasterboard are masked with an adhesive plastic or fibre woven mesh tape known as 'scrim' to conceal the plasterboard edges. A plaster skim is then applied to the face of the plasterboards and over the scrim to create the appearance of a solid wall. Once dry the walls can be over painted.
A number of specialist internal partitions offered by manufacturers allow the fast and efficient dividing of internal areas with a degree of customisation. Systems generally fall in to the two categories of moveable partitions, often referred to as temporary partitions, and permanent partitions. Moveable partitions are often modular and may be constructed from a light weight aluminium framework incorporating plastic composite panels and often plastic or glass windows. Temporary partitions can be relocated with ease to alter the layout of offices if necessary. Within an office environment acoustic screens can be utilised to separate office pods and within separating internal office walls to reduce noise transmission.
Permanent screens are also popular within commercial and office environments for the division of floor space. Within retail outlets a selection of different materials from natural wood to brushed aluminium are typically used to construct the screens in order to create a strong visual impact. Internal glazed partitions and glass walls are also used to provide a well lit working environment within offices.
Load bearing walls are generally finished in one of two ways. A render can be applied directly to the masonry face of the wall comprising sand and cement, which is then plastered to create a level paintable finish. Metal cable ducting is typically attached to the masonry and cables are routed prior to over rendering of the ducting. An alternative finishing method referred to as 'dry lining' and commonly used within timber framed houses, involves laying a number of plaster 'dabs' (lumps of plaster) on to the face of the masonry. The plasterboards are then pushed level on to the dabs and form a bond which fixes them to the wall. Scrim is then used to seal the edges of the plaster board. Some plasterboards have tapered edges and can be sealed with a specialist joint sealing compound to remove the need to skim the whole wall. These dry lining systems usually use a metal or plastic bearer, known as a dry lining bead, to hold the edges of the plasterboard to the wall. A number of different bearer profiles are offered for use on rendered masonry structural walls to enable a sharp and durable edge around window and door apertures to be created. A variety of dry lining systems, many incorporating insulation, are available from a number of manufacturers.
Traditional sand and cement based renders have evolved and materials such as rubber granules and polystyrene beads can be incorporated in to the render in place of aggregate to enhance insulation properties of the render. In homes with solid single skin walls were damp and mould are a problem these hybrid renders can significantly reduce heating costs, via heat conservation, and help stop damp along with mould growth.
Other wall finishes, popular within commercial and some residential settings, include internal cladding products. Internal wall claddings are available manufactured from a range of materials. Some cladding systems comprise mock brickwork or preassembled stonework that can be fixed directly on to the wall to save time and costs on site. A large sector within the cladding systems market is for 'wipe clean' surface finishes, typically produced from plastics, they can be used to create hygienic environments within hospitals and kitchens.
In order to provide the finishing touches to any internal wall products such as skirting boards, coving and cornices can be purchased in a variety of styles and profiles to give the desired appearance, whether it be period or contemporary. Skirting boards are available manufactured in materials including wood and plastic. Wood skirting boards represent the traditional skirting board choice and can simply be nailed or screwed in to place. Pine is the most common wood used for skirting, with oak skirting boards being specified for aesthetic appeal and increased durability. Oak skirting is usually only finished with a varnish to display the wood grain. More modern skirting board styles and even some traditional styles are produced in plastic which has the advantage of being flexible and can easily be designed with an integral rear recess to act as cable ducting. Quadrant beading, sometimes referred to as quadrant, can be used to span the expansion gap between the skirting board, where it has been left in situ prior to fitting a floor.
Where the top of the wall and the ceiling meet it is traditional practice to fit a Cornice or Coving to hide this intersection. The word coving tends to be used to describe continuous uninterrupted profiles, where as Cornices tend to include corner mouldings and ornate patterns. Coving is generally manufactured from moulded plasterboard, with more recent materials including polyurethane and foamed composite materials providing a light weight alternative. Styles are diverse and range from ornate period designs to simple subtle profiles.
Another wall finishing item is the Dado rail traditionally used to provide both form and function in period properties. Dado rails are typically mounted mid wall approximately 1m above the floor and skirting board and act as protection from chair backs. It was also used to create a visual line between the lower wall, which was susceptible to rising damp in period houses and frequently needed repainting, and the upper wall. Nowadays the dado rail is usually only fitted to create aesthetic appeal. Many ornate wall features such as corbels, pillars, niches and light shades manufactured from plaster and plastic composites can be purchased as internal wall decorations.
Door apertures are an important focal point within any room and can be finished with an architrave, which surrounds the door, to compliment the door surround and skirting board style. Architraves can be purchased in simple or ornate profiles and are usually manufactured from pine, however the more ornate examples tend to be manufactured from moulded plaster or plastics. Pediments can also be purchased to mount above the door frames. They are generally ornate and typically included features such as coats of arms, animals or decorative scrolls to create an ornamental focal feature.
A number of specialist companies can be contracted to undertake partitioning projects from start to finish and the installation of dry lining systems.