APA - The Engineered Wood Association

Construction Basics - Wall Systems

Builders can choose from a variety of wall sheathing products that range in cost, strength, insulation value, and ease of installation. Of the options available, plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) are the strongest and most durable. These wood structural panels add shear and racking strength – important characteristics that are engineered to help a structure withstand the forces of high winds and earthquakes. Wood-sheathed walls are also easy to build and easy to insulate for high R values.

Lateral Design

Wood-framed buildings can be designed to withstand lateral loads such as those caused by high winds or seismic forces. The elements that enable a building to withstand such forces are its shear walls and diaphragms. Framing, wood structural panel sheathing, and connections are all important components in these construction systems.

Shear Walls & Diaphragms

A diaphragm is a flat structural unit acting like a deep, thin beam. The term “diaphragm” is usually applied to roofs and floors. A shear wall, however, is a vertical, cantilevered diaphragm. These construction systems can be used when designing a building for lateral loads, such as those generated by wind or earthquakes.

Learn the Bracing Basics from APA

For simple solutions for code-compliant wall construction, visit PerformanceWalls.org, your leading resource for wall bracing and building safe, durable and energy-efficient walls.


Advanced Framing Construction Guide


Advanced Framing Construction Guide, Form M400

This free publication from APA details techniques for more efficient, cost-effective framing practices.


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Introduction to Lateral Design
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Free CAD details from APA at APACAD.org

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