Wall bracing is critical to the structural integrity of a building. Building codes require that walls resist wind pressures, wall-racking forces and provide weather protection. Bracing strengthens the frame to help keep walls square when enduring strong lateral forces like high winds or earthquakes. Without wall bracing, the house’s frame would not have enough strength to resist these forces.

Wall bracing is essential to structural integrity, but satisfying the wall bracing requirements of the building code can be one of its most confusing aspects. The most recent versions of the International Residential Code (IRC) defines 16 different bracing methods, with minimum widths based on the construction material and method. That complexity can be intimidating, but there is a simple solution: continuous sheathing with OSB or plywood. Continuously sheathing a house with wood structural panels (CS-WSP) is an easy and effective solution for meeting the IRC. It’s also the only IRC-recognized method that allows using the narrowest bracing segments: as narrow as 16 inches.

APA – The Engineered Wood Association offers numerous helpful free resources. The Introduction to Wall Bracing guide provides the fundamentals of IRC-compliant wall bracing and outlines how to meet basic requirements in accordance with the code.

On-Demand Wall Bracing Guidance

APA’s five-part on-demand webinar series covers 2018 IRC wall bracing provisions. The series begins with a one-hour introductory session covering load path, lateral forces and limitations to wall bracing. Additional sessions address related topics, including the simplified wall bracing method and bracing for higher seismic and wind zones.

A Simple Solution to IRC Compliance - 2023

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Wall bracing is critical to a home’s structural integrity—simply satisfy code requirements with strong, resilient, continuously sheathed walls.

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Wall Bracing Calculator

The plan approval process can be time consuming and complex. The APA Wall Bracing Calculator is a helpful tool intended to simplify the design and approval of residential structures that comply with 2021, 2018, 2015, 2012 and 2009 IRC wall bracing requirements. The calculator is free to use and comes with a quick start guide for easy reference.

With the APA Wall Bracing Calculator:

  • Create a project and complete the details.
  • Visually identify and calculate the bracing requirements of each braced wall line.
  • Visually identify, qualify and locate each bracing segment on a given wall line.
  • Export results to an illustrated document showing IRC wall bracing compliance to facilitate faster plan approvals.
  • A complete list of interpolated wind and seismic adjustment factors used in bracing calculations are shown in the report.

The Authoritative Guide to Wood Wall Bracing Provisions

The Guide to the 2018 IRC® Wood Wall Bracing Provisions + 2021 Supplement, co-published by the International Code Council (ICC) and APA, details the correct application of code-bracing requirements, explores the history and theory behind wall bracing and provides real-world bracing examples.

The IRC contains numerous prescriptive lateral bracing provisions intended to help residential structures resist lateral loads. The type and amount of bracing required for a given structure depends on many factors. This guide addresses bracing options available to builders and designers, the amount of bracing required with adjustments and variations, rules for the use of bracing, simplified wall bracing provisions, and many other related topics.

Looking for more? Find additional information, resources and solutions for code-compliant wall construction at https://www.apawood.org/walls.