Walls are a critical structural component in home construction. Building codes require that designs resist wind pressures and wall-racking forces and provide weather protection.

Wood structural panel sheathing contributes to the structure's ability to handle uplift loads, lateral loads and wind pressures. Fully sheathed wood walls solve most building challenges by delivering advantages in code and safety, design and production, energy efficiency and sustainability.

However, navigating the complex building codes and ensuring compliance can often be a challenging process. These tools, which were developed from decades of field consultations and testing by APA – The Engineered Wood Association, provide builders and designers with guidance when implementing wood structural panel wall systems.

APA Wall Bracing Calculator:

Wall bracing is essential to a home’s structural integrity, but satisfying the wall bracing requirements of the building code can be one of the most confusing aspects.

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 continuously sheathing a house with wood structural panels is an easy and effective solution for meeting the IRC. The IRC only allows methods with wood structural panels on their narrowest bracing segments (as narrow as 16 inches). As an added advantage, when continuously sheathing with wood structural panels, more of the wall line qualifies as bracing while the total required bracing length is minimized.

The APA Wall Bracing Calculator is a free tool intended to simplify the design of residential structures that comply with the 2021, 2018, 2015, 2012 and 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) wall bracing requirements.

With APA’s Wall Bracing Calculator:

  • Create a project and identify the pertinent details.
  • Identify and calculate the bracing requirements of each braced wall line.
  • Identify, qualify and locate each bracing segment on a given wall line.
  • Import or export saved files; export the results of the project to a printable document.

Download the APA Wall Bracing Calculator Quick Start Guide for a tutorial.

Access the APA Wall Bracing Calculator.

The Force Transfer Around Opening (FTAO) Calculator:

Wood structural panel-sheathed shear walls and diaphragms are the primary lateral load-resisting elements in most wood-frame construction. As wood-frame construction is continuously evolving, designers in many parts of the U.S. are optimizing design solutions that allow lateral load transfer around larger openings.

The Force Transfer Around Openings (FTAO) method of shear wall analysis offers more versatility than other methods because it allows for the use of narrower wall segments while meeting required height-to-width ratios, and minimal hold-downs.

APA’s FTAO Calculator is a free, Excel-based tool for professional engineers which uses FTAO methodology to calculate maximum hold-down force for overturning resistance, the required reinforcing capacity at opening corners, the maximum shear force to determine sheathing attachment and the maximum deflection of the wall system. The calculator includes worksheets for shear walls with one, two and three openings and a design example.

Access APA’s FTAO Calculator and additional resources on FTAO shear wall analysis.

Looking for more? Find additional resources for constructing code-compliant wood wall systems or contact your local APA Engineered Wood Specialist for a complimentary consultation at www.apawood.org.