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BRACING WALLS What Works Best? Plywood sheathing is tops. But shear panels and let-in bracing do well, too. by Harris Hyman, P.E. A wood-frame house is a surprisingly safe building. It is almost impossible to construct one that will fall down. Most builders instinctively work with lumber that is heavy enough to do the job. In fact, the wood is usually much, much stronger than the bare minimum that is needed to hold things up. Failures are generally water-related-rotting or leaking. Structural problems in a house almost always relate to deflection-that is, unwanted movement of the framing. The most annoying of these unwanted movements is a bouncy floor, but the one that is most noticeable and causes the most deterioration in the house's value is