A shear panel is a solid sheet element that is placed within a frame to increase its ability to resist lateral loads and overturning moments. Shear panels work by distributing lateral forces from one part of the frame to another or as vertical loads down to the foundations of the building.
Several shear panels may be connected together in the same plane to form a shear wall . These may also be monolithic systems that span several stories or the full height of the structure. In most commercial buildings, shear walls are large-scale concrete structures that are formed from a single piece (such as a tall shear-wall building). They can also be formed from a combination of panel-like parts that are rigidly linked together (such as in a warehouse).
Shear panels can become less effective when the design incorporates penetrations for windows, doors and other building features.