In the seismic analysis of a framed building with masonry infill walls, it is necessary to model the effect of the walls on the lateral stiffness, strength and ductility of the building. The equivalent strut method is convenient for modelling the walls in a large building. However, an appropriate axial load versus deformation relationship for the strut is required in a nonlinear static method of seismic analysis, such as the pushover analysis. The present study proposes a nonlinear axial hinge property for the strut, with suitable performance levels. First, the equivalent strut method and the suitability of two approaches available in the literature for modelling the properties of the struts, are briefly discussed. Next, the nonlinear axial load versus deformation relationship is developed based on experimental data compiled from the literature. The parabolic–plastic relationship is idealized as a tri-linear axial hinge property, so that it can be incorporated in commercial software for undertaking pushover analysis. Next, the use of the hinge property is demonstrated in the pushover analyses of two framed reinforced concrete buildings. The pushover curves based on the proposed hinge property shows improved modelling of the inelastic drifts of the buildings. Although the modelling of a wall using a single strut has limitations, the proposed methodology is practical for a pushover analysis of a building. © 2013, The Institution of Engineers (India).