FAQs: Wall Bracing
THERE HAVE BEEN NO MAJOR CATASTROPHIC EVENTS IN COLLEGE STATION
DUE TO WIND OR EARTHQUAKES. WHAT HAS PROMPTED THE NEW WALL
Recent State law adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) as the statewide
residential code. The law also required municipalities to enforce the IRC, developed
by the International Code Council as a nationwide building code for residential
While College Station has not experienced a widespread and devastating wind or
seismic event, the code requires all residential construction to be designed to resist
the potential for such events. The IRC considers the design wind speed and seismic
zone when specifying the required amount and method of wall bracing.
A jurisdiction's probability for a wind and/or seismic event is based on such factors
as its proximity to the coast line, history of seismic activity, etc.
WHY DOES THE BASIC WIND SPEED FOR COLLEGE STATION SEEM SO HIGH?
The wind speed for College Station, based on IRC Figure R301.2(4), is 90 mph. This
figure is based on a 50-year recurrence interval and is measured in 3-second gusts
at 33 feet above the ground. While this wind speed might seem high, the methods
and formulas built into the code, which take a building's use, height, shape and
location into affect, convert the wind speed to a realistic design wind load.
WHAT ARE THE AVAILABLE OPTIONS FOR WALL BRACING?
The IRC provides eight standard prescriptive methods for braced wall panels. The
code also allows an “alternate braced wall panel” method (see Section R602.10.6)
and a “continuous sheathing method” (see Section R602.10.5).
IF MY DESIGN DOES NOT MEET THE PRESCRIPTIVE REQUIREMENTS OF THE
INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTIAL CODE, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
You have two options. The first is to use an engineered system such as those from
the APA, Simpson Strong-Tie, TrusJoist or Hardy Frames, Inc. The second is to have
the structure designed by an engineer licensed by the State of Texas. When applying
for a building permit, this option requires the submission of the signed and sealed
design calculations and a comprehensive set of construction documents outlining the
lateral load resistance system.
CAN DIFFERENT BRACING METHODS BE USED ON DIFFERENT BRACED WALL
That depends. The answer is YES if you use only prescriptive methods for braced wall
panels per IRC Table R602.10.1. The answer is NO if you use continuous structural
panel sheathing and/or APA Narrow Walls. In this case, the entire structure must be
sheathed in OSB or plywood.
CAN SOLAR BOARD OR TECHSHIELD RADIANT BARRIER SHEATHING BE
USED AS A BRACED WALL PANEL?
Yes, when installed in strict conformance with the manufacture’s recommendations,
either product may be used as bracing method 3 (see Section R602.10.3). Please
note that Solar Board or TechShield wall bracing must be solid panels without
openings for windows or doors.