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Lehrstuhl für Statik der Hochbaukonstruktionen 6100 Darmstadl
Technische Hochschule Darmstadt - Lichtwiese PetersenstraBe 15 . RuI 06151/162136

Basics of Design of Masonry Walls subjected to Vertical Loads

and Buckling according to the Present Draft of Eurocode EC 6
and Comparison with Experimental Data

Grundlagen der Bemessung von Mauerwerk unter vertikaler

Belastung und Knicken nach dem Entwurf lU Eurocode EC 6
und Vergleich mit Versuchsergebnissen

by Prof. Dr . -Ing. W. Mann, Darms tadt / Germany

The load capacity of walls subjected to vertical loading is the most fre-
quent and most important problem in the design of masonry. Therefore it may
be of general interest to show the basics how this problem is treated in the
present draft of the Eurocode EC 6, and, in the same way, in the ISO-Code
TC 179 for masonry . The stre ss di stribution in the section, the buckling ef-
fe ct, the influence of creep, t he frame effect between walls and slabs and
it s influence on the load eccentri city will be explained. Finally the load
capacity due to this theoretical basis will be compared with test results.

Die Tragfahigkeit von Wanden unter zentrischen und exzentrischen vert ikalen
Kraften ist das haufigste und wichtigste Problem bei der Bemessung von Mau-
erwerk. Es dürfte deshalb von allgemeinem Interesse sein, die Grundlagender
Behandlung dieser Fragen im Entwurf zum Eurocode 6, und, in gleicher Weise,
zum ISO-Code TC 179 für Mauerwerk darzustellen. Die Spannungsverteilung im
Querschnitt, die Behandlung des Knick-Effektes, der EinfluB des Kriechens,
die Rahmenwirkung zwischen Wanden und Decken und daraus resultierende Last-
exzentrizitaten werden erlautert. SchlieBlich werden die rechnerischen Werte
den Ergebnissen von Laborversuchen gegenübergestellt.
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t; h; b thickness; height and width of the wall
hs; hef storey height; effective height = buckling length
t s ; 1. thickness and span of the slab
Em; Es modulus of elasticity of masonry and slab
fk compressive strength of masonry
ei. = Mi./Ni. load eccentricity in section i
ea; ek accidental eccentricity; eccentricity due to creep
~(l) creep coefficient
R = ~m' t· fk load capacity of the 'wall
reduction factor due to e and À = hef/ t

The real statical behaviour of masonry walls is complicated. Walls and slabs
are linked together, more or less restraint; they act as a frame system with
bending moments at top and bottom of the walls, which reduce the wall capa-
city in these sections. On the other hand the restraint between wall and
slab will reduce the buckling length of the wall, thus encreasing their
load capacity due to buckling. These effects can only be calculated byap-
proximation; moreover cracks may occur, changing the stiffness of the con-
struction and the distribution of the bending moments.
In order to avoid too complicated calculation in practice the Codes provide
a simplified calculation by two steps:
Step 1: Bending moments at top and bottom of the wall, calculated by a sim-
plified statical frame-system, and load capacity at these sections.
Step 2: Load capacity of the wall considering the buckling effect. The con-
sequences of the frame effect, that means bending moments as well as the re-
duced buckling length, are considered by a simplified statical system of the
The smaller value from step 1 and 2 is valido In the case of large slender-
ness it will result from step 2; in the case of outer walls with large re-
straint by the slabs it may result from step 1.


Calculating the streng~of a wall, subjected to normal forces and bending

moments, it is necessary to define the type of stress distribution in the
wall section. Different types are used in the different countries, see fig.1.
Linear stress distribution (a) without tension strength is commonly used.-
This type is for instance still applied for masonry in Germany. But it is
known from eccentric compression tests that it is conservative. Therefore it
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!e c
+-t-t @ co ~
N=k·c·cr k = 1,5 k = 1,78 k = 1,8 k=1,95 k = 2,0
Fig. 1: Usual types of stress distribution in the wall seetion

was proposed to use parabolie distribution (b), whieh is more eomplieated in

handling. The diagrams in the CIB-Code are based on a logarithmie type with
a small seetion of tension (e), see /5/. Another type is the parabola-reet-
angle (d), whieh is normally used for eonerete. Nearly the same results as
in (d) are obtained by the reetangular stress bloek (e), whieh is used for
masonry in Great Britain and for unreinforeed eonerete in Germany. It is the
simpliest type for ealeulation and eorresponds suffieiently with test re-
sults. For this reason and beeause it is elose to praetiee in eonerete, the
reetangular stress bloek was ehosen for the Euroeode EC 6 and for the ISO-
Code for masonry. The differenees between all these types are shown in fig.2.

\ I~ ___ -IIIIIIl
1\ \-

\ ,~
0,6 Fi g. 2:
_;" " ~ Reduetion faetor ~e for the load
I rl111~ 1'-' ~ eapaeity for different types of
0,4 r-f- stress distribution, depending
~ on the load eeeentrieity e
0,2 '"'" ~~
"- ~
o 0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4
'-0,5 e/t

For praetieal use it is important that the results are not only to be taken
from diagrams, but ean also be ealeulated by simple formulas. The reetangular
stress bloek ean be expressed in sueh a simple formula:
I cr = ~ for all values of e = i -e (1)

The load eapaeity R of a wall results from rr = f k at the edge of the seetion:

R ~ e . t . fk I wi th ~e = 1 - 2 fI (2)
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The bending moments on top and bottom of the wall due to the frame effect can
be calculated in different ways:
a) Exact frame calculation, see fig.3a. This may be done by the simplified
assumptlon of uncracked homogenous sections and materials with elastic be-
haviour. For common practice this will be too complicated.
b) Simplified statical system. Parts of the frame may be cut out, see fig.3b
and c, and /1/. The bendlnq. moment Ms at the restraint of the slab follows
2 (3a)
for ou ter wa 11 s Ms = ~.SLlL._2_
2 + k1 12
1 2 (3b)
for i nner wa 11 s Ms = .)e·_·(q1 II 2 - q2 l2 2) .
12 2 + k( (1 + llll2)
2 E t 3
k1 = _ . .=.s. . (-':S-) . _h (3c)
3 Em t II

The E-Modulus may be taken as Em = 1000 f k and Es = Eslab = Econcrete

The bending moments in wall section i and i+1 are approximately
Mi ,.. Mi +1 "'" 2 Ms (4)

For roof slabs a similiar calculation can be done. Often it will be

sufficient to use eq.(3) with M1 ~ Ms'
Real elastic and homogeneous material leads to ~ = 1. In many cases this
will be too conservative. Cracks will reduce the stiffness of the elements.
Moreover Ms will usually not be applied for equilibrium of the slab, there-
fore the safety factor may be reduced in thi s poi nt. For thi s reason x. may
be taken as 0,67 or even 0,5.

L- 1- ~~w.u-'+'''''''''''''''''''''''''"'t- -<11 i

i. + 2 - fW.u.u.J.U.l.f-U-I.!.U.I.J.UJ..u..L.f- - <111
! A ÁB '!C
+-11 -4- 12 ---+ ®
Fig. 3: Statical systems to describe the frame effect.
a) Exact frame system; simplified systems for b) ou ter walls and
for c) inner walls. Ms = M in the slab; Mi = M in the wall.
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c) Sim~ified formula for the joint moments. In order to simplify eq(3) still
more lt may be assumed, that the supports of the slab act to the walls with
an eccentricity of 5% of the floor span (for outer walls) or of 5% of the
differenceof the adjoining floor spans (for inner walls):
Outerwalls: Ms =0,05'A'11 (5a)
Innerwall s: Ms = 0,05'B '(ll-1Z} (5b)
Supports: A "'0,5 'ql'11 B '" 0,5·(qlll + QZ1Z)
This formula develloped and explained in 111 is very simple for common use,
but not very exact. In critical cases eq.(3) may give more favourable results.
For calculating the wall the section i is loaded by the normal force Ni and
by the bending moment Mi. The eccentricity thus becomes
I eq,i = Mi / Ni and eq,i+l = Mi+l / Ni+l I (6a)
At this point must be checked, if the joints between slab and wall are
cracking. Is the calculated eccentricity eq i >t/3, than the slab will turn
around the edge of the wall and the frame effect will disappear. In this
case the load eccentricity has to be taken as eq i = t/3. Moreover you have
to care for cracks which can appear on the outer'side of the wall.
Sometimes the ~/all will be loaded by horizontal loads, e.g. by wind loads,
which produce an additional eccentricity eh i = Mwind I Ni. Besides of that
an accidental eccentricity ea may be added.' Thus the total eccentricity
in the wall section i is
lei = Mi/Ni + eh, i + ea ~ t/3 (6b)
The wall capacity at top or bottom of the wall follows from eq.(Z):

I Ri = ~;' t . f k = (1 - Z~) t fk (7)


\ \

1 M2 ®~
A @ err em
Fig. 4: Systems to calculate the wall. a) Part of the real frame system;
b) simplified substitute system: ~ = 0,5 (M 1 + M2 ); em = Mm/Nm;
hef = ~ . hs
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It would be too complicated for practice to calculate the wall as a part of

a frame system, as it is in reality (see fig.4a). Therefore a simplified
substitute system according to figo 4b has to be studied. In this system the
frame effect is considered in two ways: a) The buckling length of the wall
h f may be smaller than the clear storey hight hs, due to the restraint in
t~e slab; b) the bending moments Mi at top and bottom are taken into account
by the eccentricity em at midheight.
The load capacity of such a substitute wall is known from several publica-
tions. They consider the lI. order effect and changing stiffness due to
cracks. The differences in the results depend on the type of stress dis-
tribution, see chapter 4. Two of these results are shown i~ figo 5, depen-
ding on the eccentricity em and on the slenderness ration À = hef/t.
All the exact results are complicated non-linear functions, which are not
useful for practice. Therefore a simplified linear formula was develloped
for EC 6, which fits well with the exact, as to be seen in figo 5:
~m = 1,14·(1 - 2·e m/t) - 0,02·h ef/ t (8)

1, O
<Pm mQX N= R =<Prri t·\

,_. - . - .



O 5 10 15 20 25 ref/t

Fig. 5: Reduction factor ~m = R/t· fk for different types of stress dis-

_ _ EC 6, see eq. (8). _ - - Parabo 1a-rectangu 1ar (concrete)
_._._ logarithmic, lit. /5/, ~ = 800
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The wall is restraint in the slabs, being a part of a frame system . Therefore
the buckling length ar the effective hight hef can be reduced to hef = 9· hs·
In case of very stiff slabs the buckling system would approach Euler-case 4,
that means hef = 0,5 hs . In case of very soft slabs ar big cracks in the
joint between slab and wall the restrain effect will disappear, that means
Euler-case 2 with hef = hs. The normal situation will be between these two
limits, see figo 6. hs means the clear storey hight.

A detailed calculation of this effect is published in lit. / 2/ and / 3/.

Based on these results the German masonry code DIN 1053 Part 2 allows to
reduce the effective height hef considering the stiffness of the slab and
the masonry wall:
(EJ )s 1 1
hef / hs 1-0,15' . hs . ( ~ + 1 ) 2. 0,75
(EJ )m 2

1[ and 12 mean the span of the adjacent s labs. For outer walls is to be
taken 1/ 12 = O. Simplifying these results the draft of EC 6 allows a buck-
1i ng 1ength
Ihef = 0,75 hs I (9)

for walls provided the following conditions at top and bottom: Restrained by
reinforced concrete floors; bearing at least 0,67 t; load eccentricity
e ~ 0,25 t. All other wall s and walls in the top storey should be calculated
with hef = hs, as the restraint is not proved.
The positive effect of a wall restraint in slabs and thereby reduced buck-
ling length was proved by tests, e. g. see lit. /10/. Due to these results
eq. (9) is rather conservative.

!Pa P
b --- !~

tb /
hef :

® hef
tb :'

~ \ ~ \ t- \

\ \

a ha > hb > h(
hef = h5 ef= ef = ef h~f =hd 2

Fig. 6: Buckling systems for walls : a) Hinged joints, Euler-Case 2;

b) frame system; c) rigid restraint, Euler-Case 4
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The substitute system for calculating the buckling effect is shown in fig.4b.
The bending moments M are of important influence on the load capacity. Nor-
mally the maximum value of M in the middle part of the wall height is consi-
dered. Some codes use the eccentricity in just 0,6 of the height, that means
0,6 Ml + 0,4 M2
= N
EC 6 prescribes the value em just at midheight:

I em,q ( 10)
To prove this simplified prescription one has to consider that the substi-
tute system is conservative. The real system is a frame, figo 4a, and the
moments M1 and M2 result from the frame effect. If the wall is deflected
(11. Order effect), the values Ml and M2 will become smaller and in the same
way Mm and em '
This effect was studied in lit. /2/ and /3/, where a lot of frame systems
were calculated and compared with the results of the substitute system. It
could be proved that this system with em at midheight i s conservative in all
cases which may occur in practice.
Moreover the moments Ml' M2 and Mm cannot be very big, compared with real-
istic values in steel or concrete constructions, due to the lack of tensi le
strength. Therefore the influence of bending to the buckling effect must be
smaller. If there are remarkable values M1 and M2' then the load capacity
at top or bottom of the wal l will be decisive, not at midheight.
There may also occur eccentricities em h at midheight result i ng from hori-
zontal loads, e. g. wind, and some acc{dental eccentricity ea, which have
to be added. At last an eccentricity ek due to creep has to be considered,
if the creep effect of the material is remarkable. Altogether the substitute
system has to be calculated with an eccentricity em at midheight:

le=e (11 )
m m,q +em, h +
The condition em ~ 0,05 t is a limiting value to prevent em near to zero.

Calculating the buckling effect it is necessary to consider an accidental
eccentricity ea, because it is impossible to produce a wall in an exactly
straight manner. There will always be some deviations, which are increasing
by vertical loading (Theory 11. order effect). This eccentricity may be of
an important influence on the load capacity. Some countries, e. g. Germany,
use ea = hef/300, following the regulations for concrete . Other countries
use smaller values; the reason is that up today compressive tests are per-
formed on masonry elements, which have a rather big slenderness, e. g.
h/t = 5 or 10; therefore a certain amount of eccentricity is already inclu-
ded in the results of these tests.
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It is not yet finally decided, which value ea will be valid in EC 6. It is

proposed to choose this value dependent on the quality control of the mason-
ry as ea = 1/300 or 1/450 or 1/600 of hef.


The creep effect will reduce the load capacity of slender walls. The reason
is the well known fact that creeping increases the deflection of the wall
and thereby the eccentricity em at midheight. This effect was proved by
long-time-tests with concrete columns and should not be neglected.
An approximation for the eccentricity ek, caused by creeping, is deduced in
lit. / 4/ with the following principles: The deflexion of the wall eu 11'
due to 11. order theory, under maximum load Nu, can be derived from eq. (8 ) :
eu,lI = 0,01 (hef + 14 em - 7 t) 2- O
During the long time of creeping the wall will not always be loaded by Nu'
but only by a part of the maximum load Nk = c . Nu. The elastic deflexion
ec Il under this partial load Nk can be derived from the usual relation
After some transformations
cN u
we receive the result
1 1- C
eu, I! em

and ek = ec,I! . (::, ~. (::, ~ means that part of the creep coefficient ~aJ'
which acts under the load Nk.
As this relation (12) is too complicated, a simplification was proposed:

ek - c . 0,015 . (::, ~
. -t-· Vt . em i

In order to get figures for c we have to consider that creeping is produced

only by the permanent loads, acting in the design state. As buildings and
their loading arise slowly, only a part (::, ~ of the total creep coefficient
~aJ will be effective. With the assumptions c = 0,3 and (::, ~ = 0,5 ~aJ we get
an approximation for the eccentricity due to creep
l ek=0,002·~aJ·~·-Vt.emi I (13)

The influence of creeping will be small in the case of small values ~~ and
hef/t. Therefore EC 6 allows to neglect creeping, that means ek = O, ln the
case of clay units (because of their small creep coefficient) and in the
case of walls with hef/t ~ 15.
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In order to prove the theoretical results they are compared with test re-
sults, which have been published by several authors, lit. /6/-/9/. All spe-
cimen had hinged joints at top and bottom, that means clear conditions at
the ends. They differ in the materials, in the slenderness ratio and in the
load eccentricity. The comparison is presented in figo 7, where the theore-
tical results according to eq. (8) are shown by lines, the test results are
given by points. The correspondence is satisfactory.

1,0 e/t= O



.... I
d ,

---- ...........
. . . ,Qe
d ô .... ....

e ~,
0,2 bd
e 'i'
( ....

O 5 10 15 20 25
Fig. 7 : Reduction factor ~m for the load capacity due to EC 6, calculated
by eq. (8), compared with test results. - eq . (8); • test results :
a = lit. /6/; b = lit. 17/; c = lit. /8/; d = lit. /9/ using calcium
silicate units; e = lit. /9/ using light weight aggregate units;
all specimen with hinged joints and e) = e2 = em; f = lit . /8/ with
e) = O, that means em = 0,5 e2'
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/ 1/ Mann, W.: Grundlagen für die ingenieurmaBige Bemessung von Mauerwerk
nach DIN 1053 Teil 2. Mauerwerk -Kalender 1980-1991, Verlag Ernst &
Sohn, Berlin.
/2/ Mann, W. and Leicher, E.: Load-Bearing Capacity of Masonry Walls in
a Critical Buckling Condition taking into account the Restraining
Effect of Floor Slabs. New Analysis Techniques for Structural Mason-
ry; Proceedings of ASCE Structures Congress 1985 in Chicago, edited
by S. C. Anand.
/3/ Mann, W. and Leicher, E.: Untersuchungen zum Nachweis der Knicksicher-
heit gemauerter Wande unter Berücksichtigung der Deckeneinspannung.
Mauerwerk-Kalender 1986, Verlag Ernst & Sohn, Berlin.
/4/ Mann, W.: Influence of Creep to the Buckling Effect of Walls. Contri-
bution to ISO TC 179, 1986.
/5/ Kukulski, W. and Lugez, J.: Resistance des Murs en Béton non Armé
soumis à des Charges Verticales. Cahiers CSTB No. 681, 1966.
/6/ Hasan, S. and Hendry, A. W. : Effect of Slenderness and Eccentricity
on the Compressive Strength of Walls. Proceedings 7, IBMAC Melbourne,
1985, p. 4.d.3 - 6, Table 4.
/7/ Albrecht, A. und Schneider, H.: Die Tragfahigkeit gemauerter Wande
und Pfeiler. Berichte aus der Bauforschung, Heft 46, Seite 40. Verlag
Ernst & Sohn, Berlin, 1966.
/8/ Gross, J. G. et al.: Recommended Practice for Engineered Brick Mason-
ry, page 278, SCPI, 1969.
/9/ Kirtschig, K. and Anstbtz, W.: Knickuntersuchungen an Mauerwerkspro-
ben. Proceedings 9. IBMac Berlin 1991.
/10/ Gremmel, M.: Zur Ermittlung der Tragfahigkeit schlanker ~auerwerks­
wande an Bauteilen in wirklicher GroBe. Forschungsbericht TU Braun-
schweig 1979.