Single-wythe masonry walls have become a popular, economical choice, particularly for commercial and industrial construction. Like other wall systems, single-wythe walls are subject to dimensional changes due to temperature fluctuation. And like other wall systems, they need to be detailed carefully to accommodate such movement.
Expansion joints may be needed for single-wythe walls of both brick and concrete masonry. Expansion joints in single-wythe construction require a complete break through the wall, in effect creating a wall that consists of separate panels. Still, the connections between the panels need sufficient shear and flexural strength to resist lateral loads.
Movement at the Top of the Wall
When framing members are attached to a single-wythe wall, some differential movement between the two components might occur due to the exterior exposure of the masonry. To accommodate this movement, a slippage connection should be provided that permits in-plane movement of the wall while bracing the structural member laterally.Single-wythe walls can perform well when the climate and the building's use are suitable, but they must be detailed properly to accommodate movement.