Simple Solutions for Code-Compliant Wall Construction
PerformanceWalls.org, presented by APA - The Engineered Wood Association, is your leading resource for building safe, durable and code-compliant walls that are energy-efficient and cost-effective.
This site compiles APA’s extensive library of free wall-construction content -- including design recommendations, how-to instructions, CAD details for wood-frame construction, and more -- into one convenient location. View the Additional Resources page for a summary of available resources.
Browse current wall-construction topics in the menu at left, or scroll down to view Performance Walls News & Updates for our latest recommendations.
Free Product Support & Training
For answers to your questions about wall bracing systems and engineered wood products, contact the APA Help Desk for free product support.
APA also offers continuing education opportunities, including training and consultation on wall construction topics. If you are interested in scheduling a live or online presentation for your group, contact your local APA Engineered Wood Specialist.
Performance Walls News & Updates
APA and AIBD to Present Wall Bracing Webinar Series
APA and AIBD (American Institute of Building Design) are teaming to present a free five-part webinar series on wall bracing. The series will begin June 26, 2014 with a one-hour introductory session covering wall bracing history, theory and strategy. Additional sessions will be held monthly through October and will address related topics, including meeting code requirements with wall bracing, the simplified wall bracing method, and bracing for higher seismic and wind zones.
Series presenters will include Bob Clark, Roger Roatch and Bryan Readling, APA Engineered Wood Specialists with a combined 63 years of experience providing engineered wood product building and design support and recommendations. APA has collaborated with code bodies since the 1950’s to improve wall performance and reduce the risk of catastrophic home failure through the development of prescriptive wall bracing techniques that specify plywood and OSB wood structural panel sheathing.
The series is hosted by AIBD; AIBD members will be eligible to earn continuing education units by attending the live webinars. Participation is free but advanced registration is required for each program: click on the following webinar titles for more information and registration:
Wall Bracing I: Why wall bracing and wall bracing strategy
This webinar was broadcast live on June 26, 2014. A recording of the program is now available to view. Note that at this time, AIBD continuing education credits are not offered for viewing pre-recorded programs.
Prescriptive wall bracing is a method of handling the lateral forces that act on a house. Applying wall bracing correctly per the IRC requires knowledge of the system and a strategy for identifying and meeting the various options available within the code. This webinar also covers the history of wall bracing and how loads are handled through braced wall lines and braced wall panels.
Wall Bracing II: Meeting the code through prescriptive wall bracing
This webinar was broadcast live on July 22, 2014. A recording of the program is now available to view. Note that at this time, AIBD continuing education credits are not offered for viewing pre-recorded programs.
With sixteen different types of braced walls included in the IRC, as well as various tables, exceptions, alternates, and connection requirements, meeting the IRC bracing requirements appears to be a very complex task for homebuilders and designers. This webinar will break down the general wall bracing requirements and show how to use the tables within the IRC to determine if braced wall lines meet those requirements.
Wall Bracing III: Simplified wall bracing and what to provide the building official
This webinar was broadcast live on August 21, 2014. A recording of the program is now available to view. Note that at this time, AIBD continuing education credits are not offered for viewing pre-recorded programs.
Due to the many complex options in the wall bracing section of the code, the IRC has created a “simplified method” for wall bracing. This webinar will focus on the IRC’s simplified method, as well as an alternate simplified method developed by APA. The new APA Wall Bracing Calculator, an online tool for showing IRC bracing compliance that provides a compliance report to builders and building officials, will also be demonstrated.
Wall Bracing IV: Seismic-related provisions and tips to meeting them
September 18, 2014, 3 PM–4 PM EDT
Many of the bracing provisions in the IRC are intended for regions in higher seismic zones (above seismic category C). This webinar will focus on the options for meeting bracing requirements in higher seismic zones, including the “irregularity” rules in chapter 3 of the IRC.
Wall Bracing V: Building Wood Framed Structures for High Wind Resistance
October 16, 2014, 3 PM–4 PM EDT
Prescriptive wall bracing is limited to homes in regions with wind speeds less than 110 mph. This webinar will provide a top to bottom overview of wind-resistant construction methods for wood frame structures located in higher wind zones. Topics of discussion include lessons learned from natural disasters, structural load-path continuity, and recent evolution in shear wall and uplift-resistant design.
APA Issues New System Report: Using Wood Structural Panels with Raised-Heel Trusses
APA outlines an efficient, cost-effective construction solution for using wood structural panels with raised-heel (or energy-heel) trusses in a new System Report, Use of Wood Structural Panels for Energy-Heel Trusses, Form SR-103.
Conventional trusses can compress insulation, diminishing its R-value and creating a cold area in the building envelope at the point where the truss meets the top wall plate. Energy-heel trusses provide sufficient space for full-depth insulation without compromising the effectiveness of the attic insulation R-value. For this reason, construction with raised-heel trusses is an increasingly popular practice.
Because the International Residential Code (IRC) requirements for attaching raised-heel trusses are complex, APA System Report SR-103 provides a pre-engineered solution to this problem: combine raised-heel trusses with wood structural panels to resist loads that act on the truss connection. The construction method outlined meets the lateral load and wind uplift load requirements of the IRC without additional cutting or blocking, and strong, stable wood structural panels are very easily joined to the building.
APA System Report SR-103 is available for free download in PDF format or purchase from APA in print format for $1.00.
ICC and APA Team to Publish Guide to IECC-Compliant Wood Walls
A new illustrated guide, co-published by the International Code Council (ICC) and APA—The Engineered Wood Association, provides tips and recommendations that help builders construct energy code-compliant wood walls using continuous wood structural panel wall sheathing. IECC Compliance Options for Wood-Frame Wall Assemblies describes how energy performance is measured in exterior wood wall assemblies and how to improve wall thermal performance to meet energy code requirements.
The 20-page publication details several wall assemblies that comply with the R-20 and R-13+5 prescriptive requirements for many of the climate zones included in the 2009, 2012, and 2015 editions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Also provided are recommendations for reducing material costs by increasing use of lower-cost cavity insulation, optimizing material usage with easy-to-apply advanced framing techniques, and boosting thermal performance with insulated headers and siding.
IECC Compliance Options for Wood-Frame Wall Assemblies, Form P320, is available for free download in PDF format or purchase from APA in print format for $2.00.
APA Wall Line Bracing Calculator Coming Soon
The APA Wall Line Bracing Calculator is currently in development and will be available via this website in Summer 2014. This online tool will provide assistance with the design of residential wall bracing for compliance with the 2009 and 2012 International Residential Code. To learn more about the International Residential Code prescriptive bracing provisions, refer to A Guide to the 2012 IRC® Wood Wall Bracing Provisions, co-authored by APA and the International Code Council.
Advanced Framing Featured in New APA Video
Advanced Framing: Meet Structural Code & Energy Requirements is a new video from APA that provides an introduction to advanced framing concepts. Additional information about these concepts is available in the advanced framing section of this website. Several specific advanced framing techniques -- including 2x6 wood framing spaced 24 inches on center, insulated three-stud corners and two-stud corners with ladder blocking, single headers and insulated headers, and multiple options for wall intersections -- are highlighted in the Advanced Framing Construction Guide, Form M400, as well as free CAD details from APA.
New Quick-Reference Guide Highlights Simpler Bracing with the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method
Builders don't have to compromise on strength to meet the bracing provisions of the International Residential Code (IRC). The APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method offers an affordable, flexible, streamlined approach to meeting wall bracing requirements for single-family homes. The APA method expands on the 2012 IRC simplified wall bracing provisions (IRC Section R602.12), increasing the applicability of the IRC provisions to as much as four times as many house plans, including those with multiple window and door openings on the front and rear elevations.
APA's new brochure, Performance Walls: Simplified Bracing Method Streamlines Design (Form P310), provides a summary overview of the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method, including how to use the method in four steps, the key benefits to the method, and a comparison with a traditional approach to wall bracing. The six-page brochure is available as a free downloadable PDF or a printed copy can be purchased for $1.00.
Learn more about the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method.
APACAD.org Adds Free Advanced Framing CAD Details
Twenty new CAD details highlighting advanced framing techniques have been added to APACAD.org, APA’s online resource for building designers and construction professionals in search of CAD (Computer Aided Design) details for wood-frame construction. The new details were adapted from figures in APA's Advanced Framing Construction Guide.
The addition of the new details boosts the total number of free CAD details featured on APACAD.org to 257, including 30 Spanish-language details. All of the details are available to download free of charge in four file formats: DWG, DWF, DXF and PDF. The details are adapted from some of APA’s most frequently requested publications and can be searched for by title or browsed for within several defined product and construction-system categories, such as Panel Roof Construction and I-Joist Floor Framing.
APA Presents Advanced Framing Strategies at the International Builders' Show
APA Engineered Wood Specialists Bob Clark and Karyn Beebe, P.E., LEED AP, presented a seminar on advanced framing to a crowd of more than 200 at the 2013 International Builders Show in Las Vegas on January 23.
The presentation, Advanced Framing: Time to Green-up Your Structure, presented for the second year at the show, focused on methods to increase cavity insulation to meet more stringent energy codes and the thermal bridging requirements of Energy Star 3 without compromising the strength and durability of homes. Advanced framing with 2x6 wood studs spaced 24 inches on center, combined with wood structural panel sheathing, is one of the most cost-effective solutions for builders trying to balance increasingly stringent energy codes with structural building code requirements.
Many of the details presented in the seminar are featured in the Advanced Framing Construction Guide, Form M400, an APA publication now available for free download. Clark recently sat down with Rob Heselbarth, Editorial Director of Residential Design + Build magazine, to discuss that publication and the benefits of advanced framing. That interview is featured at www.forresidentialpros.com.
APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method Expanded For Increased Usability
Based on a multi-year research and testing initiative carried out by APA, the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method expands on the 2012 International Residential Code Simplified Bracing Method (IRC Section R602.12) to provide an approach to bracing that is even more valuable to builders and building officials by, in many cases, decreasing the amount of required wall bracing and the minimum length of braced wall panels. In addition, the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method increases the applicability of the IRC simplified wall bracing provisions to as much as 4 times as many house plans, including those with multiple window and door openings on the front and rear elevations.
The APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method is detailed in System Report SR-102, originally published in September 2012. Recent updates to SR-102 expand usability of the APA method even further, increasing applicability to basic wind speeds of up to 100 mph and to Wind Exposure Category C regions. The updated System Report SR-102 also permits partial credit for shorter wall segments in continuously sheathed walls.
“These changes were requested by builders and code officials to further increase the usability of this simple approach to wall bracing," said Tom Kositzky, APA Director of Field Services. “Builders, especially regional or national builders, need solutions that work in less than 90 mph and 100 mph wind zones, as well as with different wind exposure categories. The update brings the APA Simplified Bracing Method closer to being a universal solution for builders and designers.”
- Download the APA System Report: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method Using Wood Structural Panel Continuous Sheathing, Form SR-102.
- Learn more about the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method.
2012 IRC Lateral Bracing Guide Now Available
A new illustrated book, co-published by the International Code Council (ICC) and APA—The Engineered Wood Association, provides an explanation of the lateral bracing provisions of the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC). The Guide to the 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions, the third edition in the series, details the correct application of the code-bracing requirements, explores the history and theory behind wall bracing, and provides real-world bracing examples. The book is now available in hardcopy and digital format.
A Guide to the 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions addresses bracing options available to the builders and designers, the amount of bracing required with adjustments and variations, rules for the use of bracing, the new simplified wall bracing provisions, whole house bracing considerations and many other related topics. The full-color book features numerous specific examples and more than 200 figures, tables and photos.
A Guide to the 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions is available for purchase in hardcopy for $42.00 ($33.50 for ICC Members, Product ID #7102S12) or digital PDF form for $39.95 ($31.95 for ICC Members, Product ID #8799P12) directly from the ICC. The 2009 edition of the guide is also available. Visit www.iccsafe.org for more information.
APA Releases New Simplified Wall Bracing Method
Following a multi-year research and testing program carried out by the Association, APA has published a new System Report detailing a simplified wall bracing method using continuous wood structural panel sheathing. APA System Report SR-102 provides building officials, builders and designers with an approach and the supporting technical information to more easily meet the requirements of the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) Simplified Wall Bracing (Section R601.12). In developing the System Report, APA’s technical staff modified the IRC Simplified Wall Bracing to increase its applicability to a greater percentage of home designs. To provide greater architectural latitude, the SR-102 method calls for continuously sheathed wood structural panel bracing with an increased sheathing thickness and a closer nailing schedule on the first story of a two-story structure. APA staff will be educating builders, code officials and designers on the use of the simplified wall bracing method through meetings, webinars, and the website.
Download a free PDF copy of the APA System Report: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method Using Wood Structural Panel Continuous Sheathing, Form SR-102. Printed copies of the report and educational training programs on the use of the new method are also available. Contact APA for more information.
Learn more about the APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method.
Meet Code and Energy Requirements with Advanced Framing
APA’s new publication, the Advanced Framing Construction Guide, highlights advanced framing techniques that residential contractors can employ to produce energy-efficient, code-compliant homes with lower material and labor costs than conventionally framed houses.
The 24-page guide details several advanced framing techniques, including 2x6 wood framing spaced 24 inches on center, insulated three-stud corners, two-stud corners with ladder blocking, wall intersection options, single headers, single top plates and eliminating unnecessary materials. Continuous wood structural panel wall sheathing is recommended to provide the structural strength necessary to safely withstand the forces of nature.
APA Issues Construction Recommendations for High Wind Resistance
Damage observations conducted by APA after the April 16, 2011 tornados in Eastern North Carolina and the powerful EF-4 and EF-5 storms that struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27 found that a lack of attention to detail along the uplift load-path often leads to weakness on the route through which high-wind forces must travel within the framing and into the foundation. Following a review of the findings, the Association has published a set of construction recommendations for improving tornado or hurricane resistance in light-frame wood construction. The damage assessment report, Tornados of the South: Structural Performance of Newly Constructed Homes in North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, Form SP-1154 and the design recommendations, Building for High Wind Resistance in Light-Frame Wood Construction, Form M310, are both available for free download from APA.
Read the full story.
APA and ICC Team to Offer 2009 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Seminar
The International Code Council (ICC) and APA - The Engineered Wood Association have reached an agreement to jointly present a 2009 IRC Wood Wall Bracing seminar as part of the ICC professional code education program. The seminar covers the fundamentals of lateral loads, the technical basis for the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) wood frame wall bracing provisions, as well as the bracing provisions themselves.
Code official, design professional and home builder groups and associations can contract for the seminar directly with the ICC. Course registration and information is available at the ICC website or by calling 1-888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233), ext. 33818. Attendees of the one-day seminar will earn 0.6 ICC CEU (continuing education unit) credits. Customized training options are also available. Read more.
Sheathing for Profits
Three APA publications describe economical systems that help builders achieve higher performance with plywood or OSB wall sheathing. These brochures are available as free downloadable PDFs from the APA Publications Library:
For more than seventy years, APA - The Engineered Wood Association has focused on helping the industry create structural wood products of exceptional strength, versatility and reliability. Combining the research efforts of scientists at APA’s 42,000-square-foot Research Center with the knowledge gained from decades of field work, and cooperation with our member manufacturers, APA promotes new solutions and improved processes that benefit the entire industry. For more information:
Free Advanced Framing CAD Details
Twenty new advanced framing CAD details are now available for free download at APACAD.org.
- APA System Report: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method
- PDF 698K, Free Download
- Performance Walls: Simplified Bracing Method Streamlines Design
- PDF 800K, Free Download
- APA System Report: Design for Combined Shear and Uplift from Wind
- PDF 491K, Free Download
- Introduction to Wall Bracing
- PDF 2.5MB
APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method
This free APA System Report explains how to use continuous plywood or OSB sheathing for a more flexible, streamlined approach to code-compliant wall bracing. (For an overview of the benefites of the APA Simplified Bracing Method, view Simplified Bracing Method Streamlines Design.)
Guide to the 2012 Bracing Provisions
Latest wood wall bracing guide provides an explanation of the lateral bracing provisions of the 2012 IRC.