Walls & floors

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What are some of the common wall designs for a residential building in Canada?

Walls are essential part of a building. Their presence provides necessary security and protection to the inhabitants of a house. Internal walls help divide the various parts of a home and protect the privacy of each of the parts. Walls act as barriers to sound and, consequently, improve the acoustical qualities of a building. Their presence is extremely important from the aesthetic point of view as well. For this reason, architects throughout the history have tried to come up with the many ingenuous wall designs. The cedar clad walls of the historic Binning Residence in West Vancouver and the dark concrete walls of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa are only a couple of examples of exquisite wall designs.

Walls can be primarily segregated into load bearing and non-load bearing varieties. Nearly all outer walls are load bearing walls. They reinforce the entire construction and bear the weight of the ceiling and the upper floors. Internal walls may or may not have load bearing capabilities. It entirely depends on the design of a building. While making any renovation in the interiors, it is important that you seek help from an experienced interior architect. Otherwise, you may end up weakening the entire building. Depending on their construction, walls can be segregated into the following:

Curtain wall – Canadian cities are replete with residential or commercial buildings with one wall completely replaced by glasses. These glass walls are known as curtain wall. It has no load bearing capacity and is only built for its aesthetic charm.

Partition wall – Partition walls help distinguish the different parts of a building. They may or may not have the capacity of bearing the load of the building. You may use various materials like brick, tiles, plywood and glass to build partition walls. A dwarf wall can be considered a variation of the partition wall. Dwarf walls do not extend till the ceiling.

Precast compound wall – This type of wall is made of prefabricated blocks. They are quick to install and more affordable than the brick walls. Prefabricated compound wall technique is generally used to build the boundary walls or the walls of the accessory buildings.

Sleeper wall – Sleeper walls are common in houses with gable roofing system. This wall type supports the roof beams and joists. It also extends the available space in an attic.

What are some of the different wall materials?

A variety of wall materials are used to build the external and internal walls of a residential building. These include brick, concrete, wood, stone, plywood and toughened glass. Concrete and bricks are the most common wall materials in use. Together they create a very durable structure. Brick walls withstand the onslaught of natural element better than most other materials. Façade bricks are used to build the exterior walls. They are solid and capable of bearing greater amount of load than the hollow bricks. Hollow bricks are generally used for the internal non-load bearing walls.

Hollow concrete blocks are used to build internal walls and the boundary walls. Hardwood is used to build the walls in the mountain huts, wooden villas and cottages around the country. In Canada, wood is the second most frequently used wall material after brick. Teak, walnut, cedar, mahogany, oak and maple are some of the common wood types for this purpose. Wooden walls, made of pressure treated lumber, are elegant and long lasting. They improve the quality of insulation.

Though plywood does not boast of the beauty and durability of natural wood, but it is a cheaper option. Plywood covered with foam boards enhances the acoustical qualities of a home. Stone walls are used as load bearing walls. Interior stone feature walls made of granite, sandstone and onyx are built to increase the beauty of the interiors. A toughened glass wall is a stylish choice for modern homes. It allows you to design a space where light flows uninhibited.

Brick walls cost between $20 CAD and $24 CAD per square foot. Hollow brick walls cost almost twice the amount of solid brick walls. Natural stone walls cost between $40 CAD and $60 CAD per square foot. Prefabricated concrete blocks are very affordable. It costs only between $8 CAD and $12 CAD per square foot. Lumber prices vary widely in Canada. The cumulative cost of wood and wall installation may exceed $18 CAD per square foot.

What types of wall finishes and paints can I opt for?

While choosing the type of finish and wall paint for the interiors keep in mind the style of décor and theme of design. Select a colour scheme that makes the interior feel chic and comfortable. When in doubt, discuss your options with a reputed interior designer. You have the privilege of opting for a range of wall finishes. For the exterior walls of your home you may choose a pebble finish, flakes finish or sand finish. In case of a pebble finish, small stone chips are used in conjunction with mortar to enhance the beauty of the façade. Flakes are less obvious than pebbles, but still look very appealing. Sand finishes feel slightly rough and edgy.

Canfor finish, wood panelling and using tiles are great options for the internal walls. Canfor finish helps you design a faux brick or stone wall. Oak panelling, once a staple in many classical homes, is still considered an elegant option. Tiles, on the hand, are primarily used on the kitchen and bathroom walls. Their water repellent nature makes them an excellent choice for these areas of a building. Terracotta tiles are used to clad the outer walls and pitched roofs as well.

While choosing the right kind of wall paints you have half a dozen options open in front of you. Matte and matte enamel have no extra shine, but they are elegant. Matte enamel is more durable than simple matte paints. The gloss variety helps you design shiny walls. It is easy to clean and a common type used for the wooden surfaces. However, it takes longer time to dry than the matte varieties. The lustre of satin and eggshell paints falls between gloss and matte varieties. They have a very subtle shine and give a very smooth finish to your walls. Water based paints are more cost effective, but oil based paints last longer.