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Load-bearing Structure vs. Framed Structure

June 14, 2023
Load-bearing Structure vs. Framed Structure

A building needs to be built in a way that it can withstand its own pressure and weight as well as  its contents. To meet these requirements, load-bearing and framed structures have been invented and widely used in the construction. In this blog, we will review the load-bearing and framed structures, the two most common types of structures used in construction.

What is a load-bearing structure?


A load-bearing structure is a structure where the loads are borne by the walls. It’s the walls that carry the weight and transmit it to the foundation. A load bearing structure can be built in masonry or of reinforced concrete.

What is a framed structure?


A framed structure consists of a system of beams and columns which transfer the loads down the building to the foundation. In a multi-storey building, steel beams and columns carry out the load bearing function. In a single-storey building, this function can be carried out by timber beams or sometimes aluminum beams.

The primary difference between load-bearing and framed structure is how the loads are distributed and transferred to the foundation. Below are some of the main differences between the two structures:


  • Composition. Load bearing structures consist of walls of brick or stone. A framed structure consists of steel beams, columns and slabs. 
  • Resistance to external forces. Load-bearing structures have lower resistance to the external forces than framed structures. However, single-storey buildings built with load-bearing structures perform equally well (given that all standards and codes were observed). 
  • Cost of labour. Framed structure is less labour intensive, but it requires a lot of skilled labour, such as that of structural steel fabricators and welders, which is usually expensive.
  • Materials. Framed structures require extensive use of steel and cement while load-bearing structures are built using timer and/or brick. 


Framed structures are also known for their design flexibility. Thus, they are a preferred choice for residential construction projects. 

Load-bearing Structure vs. Framed Structure


Load-bearing structure vs. framed structure. What’s more common in residential construction?


Although, load-bearing system is considered to be an older construction method, it may still be used in the construction of single-storey residential homes. The framed structure is considered to have higher resistance to lateral forces and to be more flexible, so it is preferred in the construction of high-rise modern buildings. 


It may be more expensive to build with framed structure as there’s a lot of work designer’s, engineer’s and structural steel fabricators’ work involved, but at the end of the day, a framed structure provides a more stable and safer structure.  

If you are looking for structural steel fabricators in Toronto, Weld Rich and Steel is the leader in providing steel fabrication and custom metal fabrication in Toronto. With a seasoned team of welders, structural steel fabricators, design engineers and technicians, we will deliver quality service and on-time completion of your project. Call us for a quote!