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What is a Cavity Wall?
Cavity wall is a double
wall consisting of two
separate walls, called
“skins” or “leaves” of
masonry separated by
an air space and joined
together by metal ties
at suitable intervals.
These walls are
generally exterior walls,
used as interior walls
The two leaves of a cavity wall may
be of equal thickness if it is a non
load bearing wall, or the internal leaf
may be thicker than the external
leaf, to meet the structural
The inner and outer skins of the wall
are adequately tied together by
means of special wall ties at the rate
of at least five ties per square meter
The cavity should neither be less
than 40 mm nor more than 100 mm in
To prevent moisture to enter, it is
essential to provide a vertical damp
proof course at window and door
reveals. The damp proof course
should be flexible.
Early Cavity Walls
Most walls comprised two half-brick
leaves with a 50mm cavity.
The two halves of the wall were tied at
regular intervals with steel or wrought
iron wall ties.
The external leaf of brickwork was laid in
facing bricks, the internal leaf in
A few early cavity walls had an external
leaf one brick thick and, in some early
forms of construction, the DPC ran right
across the cavity.
DPCs (to prevent rising damp) were in
common use by the early 1900s. They
could be made from lead, pitch, asphalt
According to building codes the double wall is generally 265mm or 275mm thick,
consisting of 102.5mm inner and outer skins and a 60-70 mm cavity (adequate for 2
storied domestic building) .
The inner leaf is increased to 215 mm or more in thickness when heavier load or floors
have to be supported
For stone faced buildings, the outer leaf is 103-206mm and inner leaf is 102.5mm. The
width of cavity in between varies from 50-75mm.
Position of Cavity at Foundations:
Cavity Extending up to Concrete
The cavity extends right upto the base of
the footing, of the footing, with damp
proof course introduced just below the
floor level. This is the more common
However, if the brick work below G.L. is
not carefully constructed, water will
enter through the joints, collect in cavity
and travel through inner leaf, causing
dampness in the flooring. The following
type remedies the stated problem.
Position of Cavity at Foundations
The portion of the cavity between top of
the foundation concrete and the G.L. be
filled with 1:2:4 concrete at least 150 mm
Separate D.P.C. is provided for both the
Rain water gaining access to the cavity
through the outer leaf, and collecting in
the cavity may be drained off by the
provision of narrow outlets or weep holes.
Cavity Concreted upto
Position of Cavity at Parapet Level
In the case of flat roofs,
with a parapet, the cavity
may extend either up to
the bottom of coping or
upto a level slightly
above the flat roof.
When the cavity extends
upto the bottom of
coping, D.P.C. course is
provided between the
bottom of coping and top
of cavity, so that rain
water does not enter the
When the cavity is
terminated just above the
flat roof, one D.P.C. is
provided over the top of
the cavity and another
Wall ties are mostly mild steel thoroughly galvanised or
dipped in hot tar and sanded to protect from rust.
Stainless steel is used now used.
These are various patterns; the washer shown is to hold
insulation boards in position against the inner leaf.
These ties must be placed at distances not exceeding 900
mm horizontally and 450 mm vertically, and should be
Ties must be placed at 300 mm vertical intervals at all
angles and door and window jambs to increase stability.
Present house in Jaipur
built in 2005 is an
cut bricks) house with
cavity walls. Two brick
and mortar walls
having a gap of 4" in
between. For strength,
both walls have been
tied at regular
intervals by placing
5mm "S" shaped rod -
thus giving the outer
wall the strength of a
normal 9" one.
Advantages of cavity walls.
Advantages of cavity walls:
There is no possibility of the moisture travelling from
the outer wall to the inner wall.
The layer of air in the cavity being non-conductor of
heat, and reduces the transmission of heat from the
external face to internal one.
This acts as damp barrier, reduces the cooling cost of
Economy- A 275 mm cavity wall costs less to construct
than a 328 mm solid wall
Cheaper than exterior or interior wall insulation.
Maintains existing wall thickness.
Minimal disruption to install
Can reduce condensation
Cavity walls were first built, in exposed coastal areas, in order to keep out wind-driven
rain. Filling the cavity with insulation will always hold the risk that moisture will be able to
find its way across to the inside, whatever the insulation material.
There is also the possibility that the installation will leave unfilled air pockets –causing
‘cold spots’ on the inside walls which attract condensation.
Another problem concerns wall-tie corrosion; cavity insulation makes the outer brick leaf
colder, and therefore wetter, which can accelerate rusting of the wall ties. And if the ties
then have to be replaced, there is no satisfactory way of refilling the holes in the
insulation, whatever the material.
Thermal bridging problems.
Thickness of insulation is restricted by width of cavity.
Significant parts of the UK are unsuitable due to their exposure.
There are significant number of buildings with mortar droppings on ties within the cavity
which result in penetrating dampness.
Settlement and saturation of cavity-fill leading to cold bridging
Damp proof course should be laid separately for two walls.
The cavity should be properly drained and ventilated by providing weep holes.
Cavity should be kept clear of dropping of mortar or brick, rubbish etc during
Vermin's or mosquitoes should not be there in the cavity wall.
7. Building Construction, W.B. Mckay
8. Building Construction, BC Punmia