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Ceram, a specialist in materials testing, analysis and consultancy, has published a design guide for masonry reinforced by bond beams to resist lateral load.

The guide outlines the use of a bond beam system commercially known as the WI Beam System to replace wind posts as the means of subdividing large walls and strengthening them against lateral loading.

The report is the result of a three-year study to assess the lateral load resistance of walls built using this system.

The study on which the design guide is based involved the testing of four walls, each 8m long and 5m high, under lateral load.

Dr Geoff Edgell, head of building technology at Ceram, said: ‘Instead of subdividing the walls using wind posts, we used bond beams placed at approximately one third and two thirds of the height.

‘The bond beam in itself is not a new idea; it is essentially a series of trough-shaped units where the void is reinforced with steel and concreted.

‘However, the system we used in this study introduces shear transfer rods – an innovative method of providing additional support for large walls,’ he added.

Shear transfer rods connect the bond beam with the blockwork courses above and below it.

In this way, the three courses act compositely to provide a stiff reinforcing layer.

The study has demonstrated that such walls can resist significant wind loads, in excess of 6kN/m2 before failure, and the design guide lays out general recommendations as to the design of concrete blockwork walls using the WI Beam System.

The guide has been co-authored by Neil Tutt (Jenkins and Potter), Andrew Best (Buro Happold), Edgell (Ceram) and Hamish Corbett (Wembley Innovation).

Ceram provides the testing of raw materials, finished products and full-scale structures both in the laboratory and on site.

The company’s specialists have developed bespoke testing solutions for intractable construction and materials problems.

The guide is available free of charge from Ceram’s website.

CERAM is a global expert in materials testing, analysis and consultancy,providing customised solutions that can help you to measurably improveperformance and profitability through safer, regulatory-compliant andbetter-engineered products.

Setting new standards in materials testing, our experts work as extensionsof our clients’ teams, applying their expertise and capabilities to a widerange of sectors, including:

aerospace & defence

automotive & transport


consumer & retail


energy & environment


materials manufacturing



Headquartered in Staffordshire, UK, with laboratories and offices around theworld, CERAM employs a team of research and product developmentprofessionals who are involved in physical and chemical materials testing,research, process engineering, product design and failure analysis.

We are a UKAS accredited testing laboratory (No. 0013) in the UK and haveCERAM-accredited laboratories around the world.

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