Interior columns of a multi-storey building are seldom braced between floor connections. Bracing of any kind generally interferes with occupancy requirements and architectural considerations. Since the slenderness ratio l/r in the weak direction usually controls column size, greatest economy is achieved by using only wide flange column sections or similar built-up sections.
It is frequently possible to reduce the size of wall columns by introducing knee braces or struts in the plane of the wall, or by taking advantage of deep spandrels or girts that may be otherwise required. Thus the slenderness ratio of the weak and strong axis can be brought into approximate balance. The saving in column weight may not always be justified; one must take into account the weight of additional bracing and cost of extra details.
Column bracing is prevalent in industrial buildings because greater vertical clearances necessitate longer columns. Tall slender columns may be braced about both axes to obtain an efficient design.
Undoubtedly, heavy masonry walls afford substantial lateral support to steel columns embedded wholly or partly in the wall. The general practice, however, is to disregard this assistance.
An important factor in determining column bracing is the allowable stress or load for the column section. Column formulas for obtaining this stress are based on the ratio of two variables, effective length Kl and the physical property called radius of gyration r.
The question of when to brace (to reduce the unsupported length and thus slenderness ratio) is largely a matter of economics and architectural arrangements.