14 Types of Building Structure Components

Updated March 10, 2023

The stability of a building relies on the construction team's understanding of the surrounding soil and the weight of the structure that needs to be supported. To construct a building can withstand its own weight and any additional pressure, it is important to understand what the structural components of a building are. If you are interested in construction, understanding the purposes of basic structure components will help you broaden your knowledge of best building practices. In this article, we discuss what a building structure component is and 14 different building structure components.

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What is a building structure component?

A building's structure components are the physical elements that support its weight, as well as any additional weight the building may bear while it stands. Not all physical characteristics of a building are structure components. For example, the wallpaper or an appliance does not bear weight loads and is therefore not a structural component of the building.

Because the engineering behind buildings is largely the same from building to building, you can find the same structure components in almost all types. These structure components fit into two categories: the superstructure, which is above the ground, and the substructure which is below the ground.

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14 building structure components

Here are the 14 most common building structure components:


The foundation is the lowest load-bearing part of a building. The foundation is usually concrete, and it is the first component built. The foundation distributes the weight from the structure on top evenly onto the soil underneath it.

A well-made foundation can prevent common construction problems for a building that can develop over time, like a cracking foundation or uneven load-bearing. A foundation's success depends on how well it transfers weight to the soil underneath it, so construction teams may study the behavior of the soil in the construction area to construct the right foundation that can work with the soil and prevent sinking.


The plinth is the structure component built directly on top of the foundation. It is typically a rectangular wall of stone that goes along the outer dimensions of the structure. The plinth raises the floor of the building to a few centimeters above the level of the soil outside the structure in order to prevent groundwater from getting into the building. This component separates the substructure of the foundation from the superstructure of the rest of the building.

DPC or Damp Proof Course

A damp proof course is a layer of waterproof material that works to keep out any moisture from entering the building and compromising the materials. This layer typically goes on top of the foundation. A plinth works as a DPC, but where there is not a plinth, you can use asphalt or waterproof cement. You can build the rest of the structure on top of this layer.

Plinth Beam

A Plinth beam is a beam that runs horizontally along the foundation from one side of the plinth to another, to support the weight of a wall that will go on top of it. Plinth beams can be concrete or stone.


The floor is a flat horizontal surface that supports people and furniture. Flooring goes on top of the DPC level, and there are a variety of materials you can use. The purpose of flooring is to provide a dry and hygienic ground to your structure. Depending on the type of building, you can have multiple floors. Any floors below the soil level outside of the building are basement floors. Floors at or slightly above the outside soil level are ground floors. Structures that have multiple levels above the ground number their floors based on their relativity to the ground floor.


A slab is a vertical base component that works as a floor and a ceiling. In a one-story building, the slab is the roof. In structures that are multiple stories, the slab is the ceiling of one story and floor of the story above it. The slab transfers the weight from the story above it vertically to the walls and columns that support the structure.


Walls are vertical structure components that support the roof. They also provide security and protection from outside weather. You can use a variety of materials to construct a wall, depending on whether it is an exterior or interior wall.

Exterior walls line the perimeter of the structure and can protect the inside of the structure from weather and moisture, as well as provide privacy. Interior walls make up the design and spatial structure of the interior of the building. Some interior walls are necessary to hold the weight of the roof, but some walls are only used to segment off space.

Shear wall

A shear wall is a vertical component that is reinforced to withstand earthquakes or storms. They work by adding additional support to the wall by transferring additional pressure caused by strong winds or shaking from the vertical wall to the horizontal foundation.

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A column is a vertical load-bearing component that supports the roof by connecting it to the floor. It does not protect from weather or provide privacy because it is typically as thick as it is wide and strategically placed within a structure to support weight.

You can use a column to support weight instead of a wall, as long as the column is big enough to withstand the weight of the roof and any additional weight you place on it. You can also use a column as a visual feature if it is not carrying weight.


The roof is the uppermost structural element of a building. It provides covering for the rest of the structure to protect it from weather. You can construct a flat or sloped roof out of a variety of materials, depending on what is best suited for the weather of the region. The roof is a weight that rests on other load-bearing structures. The load that the roof bears is mostly its own weight, as well as any additional pressure from weather.


A staircase is made up of a collection of steps that allow movement from one floor to another. It has to bear its own weight and anyone walking on it. You can consider the space available when deciding the layout of the staircase, as well as the materials used.

Tie beam

A tie beam runs between columns to support the weight the columns carry. These are typically used to support columns that are holding up tall ceilings. Columns that are too long need to be reinforced to prevent buckling under the weight of the high roof.

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A lintel is made of a slab of concrete or metal that goes above an opening in a wall, like a window or a doorway. The lintel supports the piece of wall above the opening, distributing the weight to the stronger sides of the wall on either side, and reinforcing the wall where it is weak, above the opening.


A sill is a part of a wall just under an opening like a window. You can reinforce the sill to support the weight of the window frame.

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