APA - The Engineered Wood Association


Wall Bracing for Builders

Builders Find Simple Solution to Complex Wall Bracing Requirements

Code officials across the country are paying close attention to IRC (International Residential Code) requirements for wall bracing. Your architect's design plans probably show narrow wall segments between corners and window and door openings, but did you know the code requires those segments to be at least 48 inches in width?  The narrowest prescriptive options that don’t involve hold-downs are linked to the use of fully sheathed walls. Full wood structural panel sheathing is a cost-effective, easy-to-build bracing system with the structural integrity to meet code demands and the design flexibility to please your customers.

Resources for Builders

Understand Code. Anyone who's tried to consult the IRC for guidance can tell you it's not that easy to understand, but we're here to help. APA publication Introduction to Wall Bracing, Form F430, explains code bracing requirements in easy-to-understand terms and answers common questions. For a more in depth explanation of the IRC lateral bracing provisions, refer to A Guide to the 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions, co-published by APA and the International Code Council.

A new bracing method developed by APA offers an easier alternative to meeting code bracing requirements. Following a multi-year research and testing program carried out by the Association, APA recently published the APA System Report: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method Using Wood Structural Panel Continuous Sheathing, providing building officials, builders and designers a new wall bracing method that offers more design flexibility and simpler code compliance. Learn more.

Get Construction Details. By fully sheathing the exterior walls with wood structural panels, you'll be able to construct segments as narrow as 16 inches wide without hold downs. Get the full details of the continuously sheathed method from the IRC and the APA Narrow Wall Bracing Method from APA publication, Brace Walls with Wood, Form G440. Construction details are also available in CAD format.

Educate Your Crew. Follow the provisions outlined in the publications carefully. APA Builder Tip APA Narrow Wall Bracing Method Framing Tips, Form F435, is a two-page handout showing the key elements you should watch out for. Available in English and Spanish, it's perfect for distributing on the job site.

Learn from the Experts. APA offers free training and consultation services on the proper specification and application of engineered wood products, including regional seminars and live online webinars that address wall bracing and related topics. Interested is scheduling a presentation for your group? Contact your local APA Engineered Wood Specialist for continuing education opportunities.

Also of Interest

Learn more about the benefits of wood structural panel sheathing. Wood Sheathing Builds Business, Form F125, highlights three residential builders across the country who have cut callbacks, improved customer relations and met code requirements using wood structural panels for all their homes. Other benefits of wood sheathing include:

  • Adds shear and racking strength that helps tie the building together to resist nature's forces
  • Adds stiffness and reduces flexing that can cause drywall problems, thus reducing callbacks
  • Helps prevent racking caused by high winds or earthquake forces
  • Helps protect the structure against airborne debris in high winds
  • Provides an excellent noise barrier when used in combination with insulated wood-framed walls and exterior siding products
  • Provides a solid nail base and continuous coverage between framing elements for common siding products which results in a smooth, even appearance of the finished siding

Need an immediate solution? Contact  the APA Help Desk for answers to your questions about lateral bracing, wood sheathing, and the specification and application of engineered wood products. Ask a question online, call (253) 620-7400, or  send an to email help@apawood.org.

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Related Publications

Wood Sheathing Builds Business
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APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method

SR-102: APA Simplified Wall Bracing Method Using Wood Structural Panel Continuous Sheathing

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

Guide to the 2012 IRC Wood Wall Bracing Provisions

Latest wood wall bracing guide provides an explanation of the lateral bracing provisions of the 2012 IRC.

Build Profit with Wood Walls

Improve profit margins
Reduce callbacks
Grow customer referrals
Eliminate code issues
Maximize allowable changes
Improve safety and durability

Learn more in the APA publications Build Profit with Wood Walls, Form J435, and Wood Sheathing Builds Business, Form F125.


Free CAD details from APA at APACAD.org

Visit APACAD.org for more than 250 free CAD details for wood-frame construction.