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WIND BRACING Fairfax County

VIRGINIA
Land Development Services
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services

Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Friday: 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Herrity Building


12055 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035-5504
Telephone: 703-222-0801
TTY: 711

Visit us on the web at: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes

This publication provides guidelines for complying with the wall bracing provisions of the 2006 Virginia
Residential Code so that your new house or addition can adequately resist wind load. These provisions
also apply to the conversion of an existing deck into a sunroom or living space.
in this publication:
WIND LOAD BASICS ........................................................................................... 1
AMOUNTS & TYPES OF BRACING ......................................................................... 4
INTERMITTENT BRACING.................................................................................... 6
CONTINUOUS SHEATHING ................................................................................ 10
BRACED WALL PANEL CONNECTIONS AND SUPPORTS....................................... 17
PROPRIETARY SYSTEMS ................................................................................... 19
ENGINEERED DESIGN ....................................................................................... 20
CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS ........................................................................... 20
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ...................................................................... 21

WIND LOAD BASICS

WIND LOAD
All buildings must be designed to resist wind load. Unlike snow and other vertical loads, wind load is
unique in that it acts horizontally and in any direction. Therefore a building must be able to resist loads
acting parallel and perpendicular to any wall of a building.

The design wind load on a structure is based


on the local wind speed. For Fairfax County,
the wind speed is 90 mph based on a 50-
year storm measured in 3-second gusts at 33
feet above the ground. While a 90 mph
design wind speed might seem extreme, due
to the way it is measured, this only translates
to a weak Category 1 hurricane.

RESISTING WIND LOAD


All structures must be designed to transfer
wind load from where it is applied to the
ground. For example, in a simple one-story
house, as shown in FIGURE 1, wind that
blows against the end wall causes the roof to FIGURE 1: WIND LOAD APPLIED TO A HOUSE
want to move in the direction of the wind, but
the movement of the roof is resisted by the
wall bracing in the side walls.

Wind Bracing 1 Last Updated: 8/22/08


This process would be similar if the house had multiple floors. In such cases, the side walls of the first
floor have the added responsibility to resist the forward movement of all the floors and the roof above.
Since the walls of the first floor resist more load, they have stricter requirements for their design.

BRACED WALL PANELS


As shown in FIGURE 2, a typical wall will rack
due to wind load if no bracing is provided.
When installed along a specified length of a
wall, bracing prevents this lateral
displacement, see FIGURE 3.
wind
A braced wall panel is a sheathed unit of
bracing that is placed in specified lengths and
locations along a wall. Each braced wall
panel must be sheathed for the full height of
the wall, up to 12 feet; see FIGURE 4.
FIGURE 2: RACKING DUE TO WIND LOAD

(12' maximum)
height
wind

FIGURE 3: TYPICAL WALL length


WITH BRACING FIGURE 4: BRACED
WALL PANEL
BRACED WALL LINES
Braced wall lines are designated
"imaginary" straight lines you draw through
the plan of a house or addition at each level n o spacing must be 50' or less
p
that you will use to determine amounts and
placement of bracing. q
In most cases, braced wall lines will be
be 50' or less
spacing must

located along all the exterior walls of the


house or addition. However, braced wall
lines may need to run through the interior
of the house as the spacing between parallel
braced wall lines cannot exceed 50 feet. For
example, in FIGURE 5, braced wall lines 1,
3, 4 and 5 account for the exterior walls of
the house, whereas braced wall line 2 is
located at the interior of the house if the
distance between braced wall lines 1 and 3 r FIGURE 5: BRACED WALL LINES
exceeds 50 feet.

Braced wall lines must begin and end perpendicularly at other braced wall lines except as allowed in the
angled wall requirements; see page 3. In FIGURE 5 notice that braced wall lines 1, 2 and 3 begin at
braced wall line 4 and end perpendicularly at braced wall line 5.

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Since there aren't too many simple rectangular houses built today, the code provides flexibility when
designating a braced wall line. Wall segments of the house need not align with the designated braced wall
line in order to assist in its resistance of the wind load. As shown in FIGURE 6, you may designate the
location of your braced wall line (the dotted line) to maximize the total amount of wall segments that can
be included on it. However, there are limits. No single offset can be more than 4 feet from the
designated braced wall line, and the total out-to-out dimension of all offsets can be no more than 8 feet.
See FIGURE 6.

FIGURE 6: ALLOWABLE OFFSETS OF A BRACED WALL LINE

As shown in FIGURE 7, you may even locate your braced wall line such that all wall segments are NOT in
alignment with the designated location, but each segment must fall within the limits shown in FIGURE 6.

FIGURE 7: PLACEMENT OF A DESIGNATED BRACED WALL LINE

ANGLED WALLS
Designers today usually design houses with angled walls and corners. That is why the code allows for this
design. Braced wall lines can angle out of plane for a maximum diagonal length of 8 feet. Where the
angled wall occurs at a corner, the braced wall line is measured from the projected corner as shown in
FIGURE 8. Where the diagonal length is greater than 8 feet, it must be considered its own braced wall
line.
BRACED WALL LINE 1
PROJECTED CORNER

.
AX
8' MYP.
BRACED WALL LINE 2

NOTE: IF THE DIAGONAL WALL IS GREATER


THAN 8 FEET LONG, THEN IT MUST BE TREATED
AS A SEPARATE BRACED WALL LINE.

FIGURE 8: DIAGONAL BRACED WALL LINES

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BRACED WALL LINE LENGTH
The length of a braced wall line becomes an
important factor when analyzing its compliance.
Therefore it is important to recognize where a
designated braced wall line begins and ends: at the
intersections of the perpendicular braced wall lines
at each end.

As shown in FIGURE 9, on the left side, braced wall


line 3 begins at the projected corner of the angled
wall at braced wall line 1 and ends at its
intersection with braced wall line 2 to the right.
Therefore, its length is the distance between those
two points.
FIGURE 9: BRACED WALL LINE LENGTH
Likewise, the length of braced wall line 2 is
measured from the intersection of braced wall line
3 to that of braced wall line 4. Notice, this
dimension is longer than the actual wall length of
the house.

AMOUNTS AND TYPES OF BRACING

LOCATION, SPACING AND AMOUNTS OF BRACING


Braced wall panels are required to be placed along a braced wall line and must meet three important
criteria.

c SPACING: A braced wall panel must be located at each end of a braced wall line or begin
within 12.5 feet of the end. See FIGURE 10.

FIGURE 10: BRACED WALL PANELS IN A BRACED WALL LINE

d LOCATION: In each braced wall line, braced wall panels can be a maximum of 25 feet on
center. See FIGURE 11.

FIGURE 11: SPACING OF BRACED WALL PANELS IN A BRACED WALL LINE

Wind Bracing 4 Last Updated: 8/22/08


e AMOUNT: A minimum percentage of a braced wall line's length must contain braced wall
panels.
The determination of the minimum required percentage of bracing is based on wind speed (90 mph),
floor, the maximum spacing to the next adjacent parallel braced wall line (see FIGURE 5) and the
bracing material. Use TABLE 1 to determine the minimum required percentage of bracing required in
a braced wall line. Bracing methods are listed in TABLE 2 and TABLE 3. To determine if your braced
wall line is in compliance, the actual percentage of bracing must be greater than the value found in
TABLE 1.

TABLE 1: MINIMUM REQUIRED PERCENTAGE OF WALL BRACING


MINIMUM REQUIRED PERCENTAGE OF FULL-HEIGHT
SEISMIC BRACING PER WALL LINE
DESIGN Braced wall line spacing less Braced wall line spacing greater than
CATEGORY FLOOR than or equal to 35' 35' and less than or equal to 50'
(SDC) OR Methods WSP, Methods WSP,
WIND SPEED All other All other
CS-WSP, CS-G, CS-WSP, CS-G,
methodsa methodsa
CS-PF CS-PF
One-story house
or top floor of a
two- or three-
16% 16% 23% 23%
story house.
SDC A, B First floor of a
or two-story or
wind speed
second floor of a 16% 25% 23% 36%
three-story
≤ 100 mph house.

First floor of a
three-story house
25% 35% 36% 50%

a. For Method GB, the percentage required must be doubled for one-sided applications.

TYPES OF BRACING
There are two types of bracing in the code, intermittent bracing and continuous sheathing.
• Intermittent bracing: bracing material is placed at the braced wall panel locations only along
the braced wall line. All other areas of the braced wall line can remain unsheathed or infilled
with foam or other nonstructural sheathing. See FIGURE 12.
Panel

Panel

Panel

Panel

FIGURE 12: INTERMITTENT BRACING


• Continuous sheathing: Bracing material is placed at the braced wall panels and on all other
areas including above doors and above and below windows. See FIGURE 13.
Panel

Panel

Panel

Panel

FIGURE 13: CONTINUOUS SHEATHING

Wind Bracing 5 Last Updated: 8/22/08


INTERMITTENT BRACING

METHODS
The code identifies several unique intermittent bracing methods to construct a braced wall panel. Each
method has a specified material type, minimum material thickness and attachment criteria; see TABLE 2.
Minimum panel lengths and heights are shown in TABLE 3.

TABLE 2: INTERMITTENT BRACING METHODS


MINIMUM
METHOD MATERIAL FIGURE CONNECTION CRITERIA
THICKNESS
1x4 wood or
approved metal wood: 2-8d nails per stud
LIB Let-in-bracing
straps at 45° to metal: per manufacturer
60° angles

Diagonal wood
2-8d (2½" x 0.113") nails or
DWB boards at 24" 5
/8"
2 staples, 1¾" per stud
spacing

6d common (2"x0.113") nails


at 6" spacing (panel edges) and
Wood structural at 12" spacing (intermediate supports) or
WSP panel
3
/8"
16 ga. x 1-3/4 staples:
at 3” spacing (panel edges) and
6” spacing (intermediate supports)
1 1½" galvanized roofing nails or
Structural /2" or 25/32" for
8d common (2½"x0.131) nails
SFB fiberboard 16" stud spacing
at 3" spacing (panel edges)
sheathing only
at 6" spacing (intermediate supports)

Nails at 7" spacing at panel edges including top


and bottom plates; for exterior sheathing nail
GB Gypsum board 1
/2"
size, see Table R602.3(1); for interior gypsum
board nail size, see Table R702.3.5

1½" galvanized roofing nails or


3
Particleboard /8" or 1/2" for 16" 8d common (2½"x0.131) nails
PBS sheathing stud spacing only at 3" spacing (panel edges)
at 6" spacing (intermediate supports)

Portland See Section 11/2", 11 gage, 7/16" head nails at 16" spacing or
PCP cement plaster R703.6 7
/16", 16 gage staples at 6" spacing

0.092" dia., 0.225" head nails with length to


Hardboard accommodate 1½" penetration into studs at 4"
HPS panel siding
7
/16"
spacing (panel edges), at 8" spacing
(intermediate supports)

See FIGURE 14
Alternate
ABW braced wall
See FIGURE 14
May only be constructed on concrete.

See FIGURE 15
Intermittent
IPF portal frame
See FIGURE 15
May only be constructed on concrete.

All codes sections above reference the 2006 Virginia Residential Code.

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PANEL LENGTHS
Panel lengths and heights are shown in TABLE 3. Only panels greater than or equal to the lengths per
TABLE 3 can contribute to the minimum percentage of bracing from TABLE 1 (Criteria 3).
a,b
TABLE 3: MINIMUM LENGTH OF INTERMITTENT BRACED WALL PANELS
HEIGHT OF INTERMITTENT
BRACING BRACED WALL PANEL
FLOOR
METHOD
8' 9' 10' 11' 12'
DWB, WSP,
SFB, PBS, All 48" 48" 48" 53" 58"
PCP, HPS
GB-two sided All 48" 48" 48" 53" 58"
GB-one sided All 96" 96" 96" 106" 116"
ABW All 28" 32" 34" 38" 42"

One-story house 16" 16" 16" 18" 20"


IPF
First floor of a
24" 24" 24" 27" 29"
two-story house
a. Interpolation is permitted.
b. When determining compliance with the percentage of bracing required by TABLE 1, the length of Method LIB is
equivalent to 48".

PARTIAL CREDIT
When using intermittent bracing Methods DWB, WSP, SFB, PBS, PCP and HPS, a panel with a length less
than 48 inches can partially contribute to the required percentage of bracing from TABLE 1. Use TABLE 4
below to determine the contributing length for panels between 36 inches and 48 inches. Any panel less
than 36 inches cannot contribute. For example, if you had a 42-inch panel, you can only contribute 36
inches towards the percentage of bracing required.
a
TABLE 4: PARTIAL CREDIT LENGTHS FOR BRACE WALL PANELS
ACTUAL LENGTH OF WALL HEIGHT
BRACED WALL
PANEL 8' 9'
48" 48" 48"
42" 36" 36"
36" 27" N/A
a. Interpolation is permitted.

MIXING INTERMITTENT METHODS


Mixing intermittent methods within a braced wall line is permitted. However, when calculating minimum
required percentage noted in TABLE 1, the method with the greater shall value govern.

Wind Bracing 7 Last Updated: 8/22/08


PANEL LENGTH
SPECIFIED BY
TABLE 3

FOR A PANEL SPLICE (IF


NEEDED), PANEL EDGES SHALL
BE BLOCKED. ONE ROW OF
TYP. SHEATHING-TO-FRAMING
NAILING IS REQUIRED

HEIGHT SPECIFIED BY TABLE 3


8d COMMON OR GALV. BOX
NAILS @ 4" O.C. AT PANEL
EDGES
MIN. 3/8" THICK
WOOD STRUCTURAL 8d COMMON OR GALV.
PANELS ON ONE BOX NAILS @ 12" O.C. AT
FACE INTERIOR SUPPORTS

2X4 FRAMING,
MINIMUM DOUBLE
STUDS REQUIRED STUDS UNDER
HEADER AS
HOLD-DOWN REQUIRED
DEVICE ON EACH
SIDE WITH A
#4 TOP AND BOTTOM
MINIMUM
CAPACITY OF
3600 LBS

1/2" DIA. ANCHOR 12" X 12"


BOLTS BETWEEN 6" MINIMUM
AND 12" FROM EACH FOOTING SIZE
END OF PANEL

FIGURE 14: METHOD ABW

HEIGHT
SPECIFIED
BY
TABLE 3 SEE TABLE 3

FIGURE 15: METHOD IPF


Please note: Method IPF is not commonly constructed in Fairfax County and
should not to be confused with Method CS-PF; see page 11 for more information.

Wind Bracing 8 Last Updated: 8/22/08


EXAMPLE 1: How to evaluate compliance of a braced wall line with intermittent bracing.
1. Determine braced wall panel method(s).
2. Determine length of braced wall line and maximum spacing to the next adjacent parallel braced
wall line.
3. Determine which floor the braced wall line is located on.
4. Based on the above information, choose the highest percentage of bracing for the bracing
method(s) required from TABLE 1.
5. Compute the actual percent bracing. Only panels greater than or equal to the lengths per TABLE 3
can contribute.

Actual percent of bracing = sum of all panel lengths (in inches) x 100
length of braced wall line (in feet) x 12
6. Compare percentages; ensure the actual percentage is greater than the percentage required from
Step 4.
7. Ensure panels are located at each end of the braced wall line or begin within 12.5 feet from the end
and are spaced no more than 25 feet on center.
For example: Using the 35-foot long braced wall line and bracing material shown below, for the first
floor of a three-story house where the next adjacent parallel braced wall line is 25 feet
away, determine if the braced wall line is in compliance.

35'
20'-6" 10'

Panel 1: Panel 2:
8'-0"

7 1
/16" OSB /2" fiberboard

door window

48" 108"

1. Determine methods: Panel 1 is Method WSP and Panel 2 is Method SFB.


2. The length of the braced wall line is 35 feet and the spacing to the next adjacent parallel braced
wall line is 25 feet.
3. This is the first floor of a three-story house.
4. Using TABLE 1, the highest percent bracing is for Method SFB (all other methods) and equal to 35
percent.
5. & 6. Panels 1 and 2 are greater than or equal to 48 inches, therefore both can contribute.
Compute actual percent bracing:

% bracing 48 + 108 x 100 = 37.1% > 35% (required %)


=
35 x 12
7. For this 35-foot wall, the 48-inch panel is located at one end of the braced wall line and the 108-
inch panel begins within 12.5 feet from the other end. The spacing between the centerlines of
each panel is less than 25 feet. Braced wall line complies!

Wind Bracing 9 Last Updated: 8/22/08


CONTINUOUS SHEATHING
Continuous sheathing is the second bracing type prescribed by the code to resist wind load. Continuous
sheathing requires you to sheath all areas of a braced wall line, including the areas above doors and
above and below windows. In return, you are able to reduce the length of the braced wall panels to as
low as 24 inches. As identified in TABLE 5, there are three continuous sheathing methods.

TABLE 5: CONTINUOUS SHEATHING METHODS


MINIMUM
METHOD MATERIAL THICKNESS FIGURE CONNECTION CRITERIA

6d common (2"x0.113") nails


at 6" spacing (panel edges) and
Wood
3 at 12" spacing (intermediate supports) or
CS-WSP Structural /8" 16 ga. x 1-3/4 staples:
panel
at 3” spacing (panel edges) and
6” spacing (intermediate supports)

Wood structural panel


adjacent garage 3
CS-G a
opening supporting
/8" See Method CS-WSP
roof load only

Continuous portal 3
CS-PFb
frame
/8" See Page 11

a. Applies to one wall of a garage only.


b. The number of continuous portal frame panels in a braced wall line cannot exceed four. Continuous portal frame panels
cannot be stacked vertically in multi-story buildings.

PANEL LENGTHS
For Method CS-WSP, the length of a braced wall panel is based on the wall height and the clear height of
the opening adjacent to the panel. Use FIGURE 16 and TABLE 6 to determine your panel length. For
example, a panel adjacent a 76 inch window opening in a 10 foot high wall must have a minimum length
of 30 inches.

When a panel has an opening on each side of differing heights, the taller opening governs the panel length
chosen from TABLE 6. Any panels less than the lengths determined from TABLE 6 are NOT considered
braced wall panels, but by definition of continuous sheathing, must still be sheathed.

For Methods CS-G and CS-PF, the panel length is independent of the adjacent opening height; see TABLE
6 for the required lengths.

25' 25'
clear opening

opening
wall height

clear

panel
panel panel
opening
clear

panel panel panel


length length length
FIGURE 16: BRACED WALL PANELS FOR CONTINUOUS SHEATHING

Wind Bracing 10 Last Updated: 8/22/08


TABLE 6: LENGTH REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTINUOUS SHEATHING METHODS
ADJACENT WALL HEIGHT
Method CLEAR OPENING
HEIGHT 8' 9' 10' 11' 12'
64" 24" 27" 30" 33" 36"
68" 26" 27" 30" 33" 36"
72" 28" 27" 30" 33" 36"
76" 29" 30" 30" 33" 36"
80" 31" 33" 30" 33" 36"
84" 35" 36" 33" 36" 36"
88" 39" 39" 36" 38" 36"
92" 44" 42" 39" 41" 36"
96" 48" 45" 42" 43" 39"
100" 48" 45" 47" 42"
CS-WSP 104" 51" 48" 48" 44"
108" 54" 51" 51" 47"
112" 54" 53" 50"
116" 57" 56" 53"
120" 60" 58" 55"
124" 61" 58"
128" 63" 61"
132" 66" 64"
136" 66"
140" 69"
144" 72"
CS-G N/A 24" 27" 30" 33" 36"
CS-PF N/A 16" 18" 20" 22" 24"

METHOD CS-PF
While similar to Method IPF, Method CS-PF, formally known as the "APA method," can be constructed on
concrete without cast-in-place hold-down devices. Method CS-PF is even approved for use on a raised
wood floor. The benefit to using a portal frame is that it is possible to construct a braced wall panel with a
length as low as 16 inches. However, the downside of this desirable dimension is that construction of the
portal frame is complex. As shown in FIGURE 17 and FIGURE 18, the connections of the studs, header
and sheathing is quite rigid; this is done in order to limit the amount of movement the portal will see
when encountering wind load.

FIGURE 17: METHOD CS-PF CONNECTIONS

Wind Bracing 11 Last Updated: 8/22/08


6

FIGURE 18: METHOD CS-PF: CONTINUOUS PORTAL FRAME BRACED WALL PANELSa
a. All codes sections above reference the 2006 Virginia Residential Code.

Wind Bracing 12 Last Updated: 8/22/08


Portal frames can be constructed as a single portal or double portal. A single portal includes the braced
wall panel and header above spanning over the opening to a jack stud. A double portal includes a braced
wall panel at each side of the opening with a continuous header spacing over each panel. See FIGURE 19.

While Method CS-PF can be used on any floor beside any opening, they are commonly used in braced wall
lines that contain multiple garage door openings. Single and double portals can be used together to frame
numerous openings and still comply with wall bracing requirements. See FIGURE 20 for some examples.

single double

FIGURE 19: SINGLE AND DOUBLE PORTALS

two single portals one single and one double portal

optional
false
wall

three single portals

FIGURE 20: OPTIONS FOR GARAGE DOOR OPENINGS

BEWARE! The most common error in constructing a portal frame is failing to extend the header over the
braced wall panel; see FIGURE 21. There is no fix for this error and Fairfax County will not accept
blocking or an "engineered" solution since the portal frame is a tested assembly.

FIGURE 21: PORTAL FRAME


HEADER REQUIREMENTS

Wind Bracing 13 Last Updated: 8/22/08


CORNER FRAMING
Corners of braced wall lines with continuous sheathing must be framed as shown in FIGURE 22.

8d common (0.131" x orientation of studs


2-1/2") @ 6" o.c. on all may vary; see Figure
panel edges R602.3(2)

minimum 24" wood


structural panel orientation of studs may
sheathing vary; see Figure R602.3(2)
16d nail (0.131" x braced wall line with
16d nail (0.131" x 3-1/2") @ 12" o.c. continuous sheathing
3-1/2") @ 12" o.c. 8d common (0.131" x
gypsum wall board as required
8d common (0.131" x and installed in accordance with 2-1/2") @ 12" o.c. on all
2-1/2") @ 6" o.c. on all Chapter 7 intermediate supports
panel edges
optional non-structural minimum 24" wood 8d common nails (0.131"
filler panel structural panel sheathing x 2-1/2") @ 6" o.c. on all
panels' edges
braced wall line with
8d common nails (0.131" x continuous sheathing
2-1/2") at 6" o.c., on all
8d common (0.131" x 2-1/2")
panels' edges
@ 12" o.c. on all intermediate
supports
(a) Outside corner detail (b) Inside corner detail

8d common nails (0.131" x 2-1/2")


@ 6" o.c. on all panels' edges
gypsum wall board as required and
installed in accordance with Chapter 7
minimum 24" wood
16d nail (0.131" x 3-1/2") structural panel sheathing
2 rows @ 24" o.c.

minimum 24" wood


structural panel sheathing 8d common (0.131" x 2-1/2") typical @ 6"
optional blocking for o.c. at panel edges and @ 12" o.c. on all
braced wall line with gypsum wall board intermediate supports
continuous sheathing
optional non-structural
filler panel
8d common nail (0.131" x
2-1/2") @ 3" o.c. on both
studs at each panel edge
(c) Garage door corner
FIGURE 22: CORNER FRAMING REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTINUOUS SHEATHINGa
a. All codes sections above reference the 2006 Virginia Residential Code.

CORNER PANELS
Each end of a braced wall line with continuous
sheathing must have a 24-inch panel on both
sides of a corner: a return panel and an end
panel; see FIGURE 23.

In many cases, the end panel will also be a


braced wall panel. This panel is called Option
1; see FIGURE 24(a). Option 2 allows the
elimination of the return panel provided an
800 pound hold-down device is provided
instead. See FIGURE 24(b).

FIGURE 23: TYPICAL CORNER PANELS

Wind Bracing 14 Last Updated: 8/22/08


Option 3 allows the first braced wall panel to begin 12.5 feet from the end of the braced wall line;
however, the 24-inch end and return panels must still be provided. See FIGURE 24(c).

Option 4 allows for the first braced wall panel to begin 12.5 feet from the end of the braced wall line and
for the elimination of both the corner panels. In their place an 800-pound hold-down must be provided at
the location of the first panel. See FIGURE 24(d).

braced wall line with continuous sheathing


(all framed portions of wall are sheathed)
braced wall line with continuous sheathing
corner detail per Figure 22
(all framed portions of wall are sheathed)

minimum
24" return end panel is also braced wall panel 800 lbs end panel is also braced wall panel
panel braced wall panel (24" within braced wall hold- down braced wall panel (24" within braced wall
minimum) line minimum) line
(a) Option 1: end and return panels provided; end (b) Option 2: hold-down device provided; end panel is also
panel is also braced wall panel braced wall panel

braced wall line with continuous sheathing


(all framed portions of wall are sheathed)
braced wall line with continuous sheathing
12'-6" max.
(all framed portions of wall are sheathed)

corner detail per Figure 22 12'-6" max.

800 lbs hold-


minimum 24" braced wall panel down device braced wall panel up
braced wall panel > 24"
end and return within braced wall line
and up to 12'-6" from end to 12'-6" from end of
panels
of braced wall line braced wall line
(c) Option 3: end and return panels provided; first (d) Option 4: hold-down device provided; first braced wall
braced wall panel begins up to 12.5' from end panel begins up to 12.5' from end
FIGURE 24: END PANEL AND CORNER RETURN PANEL REQUIREMENTS

Wind Bracing 15 Last Updated: 8/22/08


EXAMPLE 2: How to evaluate compliance of a braced wall line with continuous sheathing.
1. Determine braced wall panel method(s).
2. Determine length of braced wall line and maximum spacing to the next adjacent parallel braced wall
line.
3. Determine which floor the braced wall line is located on.
4. Based on above, choose the percentage of bracing for the bracing method(s) required from TABLE 1.
5. Evaluate the length of each full height panel to determine if the panel qualifies as a braced wall panel
based on the lengths from TABLE 6.
6. Compute actual percentage of bracing, as follows:
Actual percent of bracing =
sum of all panels lengths (in inches) x 100
length of braced wall line (in feet) x 12
7. Compare percentages; ensure the actual percentage is greater than the minimum percentage required
from Step 4.
8. Ensure panels are located at each end of the braced wall line or within 12.5 feet with the appropriate
corner return panels and/or tie-down devices and are spaced no more than 25 feet on center.
For example: Determine compliance of the braced wall line fully sheathed with 7/16 inch OSB shown
below for a one-story house with a 20-foot spacing between braced wall lines. Assume
there are 24-inch return panels at each end.
50'
24'-7" 23'
8'-0"

Panel Panel Panel Panel

64"
64"

1 2 3 4
80"

34" door 24" window 1 24" window 1 24"


1. The method is CS-WSP.
2. The length of the braced wall line is 50 feet and the spacing is 20 feet.
3. This is a one-story house.
4. Using TABLE 1, the required percentage bracing required is 16 percent.
5. From left to right, evaluate each panel:
• Panel 1 is adjacent an 80 inch opening and per TABLE 6 must have a length of at least 31 inches.
Actual length is 34 inches. This panel can contribute.
• Panel 2 is adjacent an 80 inch opening and a 64 inch opening, but the taller opening governs.
Therefore the panel must be at least 31 inches. The actual length is 24 inches. This panel
CANNOT contribute!
• Panel 3 is adjacent 2-64 inch openings and must have a length of at least 24 inches. Actual length is
24 inches. This panel can contribute.
• Panel 4 is adjacent a 64" opening and has a length of 24 inches. This panel can contribute.
6. & 7. Compute actual percent of bracing:
% actual bracing = 34 + 24 + 24 x 100 = 13.67% < 16% (required percentage)
50 x 12
Braced wall line FAILS!

Wind Bracing 16 Last Updated: 8/22/08


MIXING METHODS
In addition to being able to mix intermittent methods within the same braced wall line, mixing continuous
sheathing methods on the same braced wall line, mixing methods per floor and mixing methods per
braced wall line is permitted. However, you must analyze each braced wall line separately and ensure
each method’s requirements are met. Look for return panels, hold-downs, etc. Please note: you may
not mix intermittent and continuous sheathing methods in the same braced wall line.

HORIZONTAL BLOCKING
For intermittent bracing and continuous sheathing, when bracing material
is installed to construct a braced wall panel such that a horizontal splice
occurs between the sheathing material, blocking is required. Vertical
splices must occur at stud locations. See FIGURE 25.

Blocking must be equal to the adjacent stud size. Sheathing must be


edge nailed at all joints in accordance with the connection criteria of
TABLE 2 and TABLE 5.

Any horizontal splice in sheathing for Methods IPF or CS-PF must occur
within 24 inches of the mid-height of the portal braced wall panel.

Blocking is not required when the amount of bracing provided in a braced


wall line is at least double that required by TABLE 1.

FIGURE 25: HORIZONTAL


BLOCKING
INTERIOR FINISHES
All braced wall panels must have 1/2-inch minimum gypsum wall board or equivalent installed on the side
of the wall opposite the bracing material. This requirement does not apply to intermittent Methods GB,
ABW and IPF and continuous sheathing Method CS-PF. This requirement may be ignored when the
amount of bracing provided in a braced wall line is at least 1.5 times that required in TABLE 1.

BRACED WALL PANEL CONNECTIONS AND SUPPORT


Braced wall panels must be attached and/or supported as noted below.
• Where framing is perpendicular to a braced wall panel, a rim joist or blocking must be provided
along the length of the braced wall panel as shown in FIGURE 26.
• Where framing is parallel to a braced all panel, a rim joist, framing member or blocking must be
provided along the length of the braced wall panel as shown in FIGURE 27.
• When a braced wall panel with a length up to 48 inches is supported by a masonry stemwall,
the masonry must be reinforced per FIGURE 28.
• Elevated post or pier foundations supporting braced wall panels must be designed by a
registered design professional. See Engineered Design on page 20 for more information.

Wind Bracing 17 Last Updated: 8/22/08


CONTINUOUS FULL HEIGHT BLOCKING
RIM JOIST CONTINUOUS ALONG LENGTH
OF BRACED WALL PANEL

PERPENDICULAR FRAMING

8d @ 6" O.C. ALONG


8d @ 6" O.C. ALONG BRACED WALL PANEL
BRACED WALL PANEL

BRACED WALL PANEL


BRACED WALL PANEL

3-16d @ 16" O.C. ALONG 3-16d @ 16" O.C. ALONG


BRACED WALL PANEL BRACED WALL PANEL

PERPENDICULAR FRAMING

CONTINUOUS FULL HEIGHT BLOCKING


RIM JOIST CONTINUOUS ALONG LENGTH
OF BRACED WALL PANEL
FIGURE 26: BRACED WALL PANEL CONNECTION WHEN
PERPENDICULAR TO FLOOR/CEILING FRAMING

ADDITIONAL FRAMING FULL HEIGHT BLOCKING


CONTINUOUS RIM OR
MEMBER DIRECTLY ABOVE @ 16" O.C. ALONG
END JOIST
BRACED WALL PANEL BRACED WALL PANEL

8d @ 6" O.C. ALONG TOE NAIL 3-8d


8d @ 6" O.C. ALONG BRACED WALL PANEL NAILS AT EACH
BRACED WALL PANEL BLOCKING
MEMBER

BRACED WALL PANEL BRACED WALL PANEL BRACED WALL PANEL

3-16d @ 16" O.C. ALONG 3-16d @ 16" O.C. ALONG 3-16d AT EACH
BRACED WALL PANEL BRACED WALL PANEL BLOCKING MEMBER

2-16d NAILS
EACH SIDE
CONTINUOUS RIM ADDITIONAL FRAMING
OR END JOIST FULL HEIGHT
MEMBER DIRECTLY BELOW BLOCKING @ 16" O.C.
BRACED WALL PANEL ALONG BRACED WALL
PANEL
FIGURE 27: BRACED WALL PANEL CONNECTION WHEN
PARALLEL TO FLOOR/CEILING FRAMING

Wind Bracing 18 Last Updated: 8/22/08


48" OR LESS

BRACED WALL PANEL

1/2" ANCHOR BOLTS PER


BRACED WALL PANEL
48" OR LESS REQUIREMENTS
BRACED WALL PANEL

1/2" ANCHOR BOLTS PER BRACED #4 BAR


WALL PANEL REQUIREMENTS
BOND BEAM
BOND BEAM WITH 1-#4 BAR

48" MAXIMUM

20" LAP, TYP.


#4 BAR MIN.; FIELD BEND 6"
24" MAX.

EXTENSION INTO BOND BEAM


#4 BAR

6" MIN.

6" MIN.
20" MIN. TYP. 20" MIN. TYP.
3" COVER 3" COVER

SHORT STEM WALL REINFORCEMENT TALL STEM WALL REINFORCEMENT

48" OR LESS BRACED WALL


PANEL
BRACED WALL PANEL
BOND BEAM
BOND BEAM WITH 1-#4 BAR
48" MAXIMUM

FACE BRICK 8" MIN. CMU


5/8" THREADED RODS MAY BE OPTIONAL
SUBSTITUTED FOR ANCHOR
BOLTS AND REBAR
8" MIN.

3" COVER MIN. 2" CUT WASHERS

OPTIONAL STEM WALL REINFORCEMENT TYPICAL STEM WALL SECTION

NOTE: GROUT BOND BEAMS AND ALL CELLS WHICH CONTAIN


REBAR, THREADED RODS AND ANCHOR BOLTS.

FIGURE 28: MASONRY STEM WALLS SUPPORTING BRACED WALL PANELS

PROPRIETARY SYSTEMS
Proprietary systems are pre-designed, pre-manufactured panels that can be used to resist wind load.
Acceptable products in Fairfax County are those listed by a testing agency with a code evaluation report in
accordance with International Code Council-Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) Acceptance Criteria.

The ICC-ES itself currently has several products listed. Go to www.icc-es.org to obtain product evaluation
reports which will list manufacturer contact information, limitations for use and design loads. Reports
must be included with your plan submission during the permit application process. Proprietary systems
must be installed in strict conformance with the manufacturer's recommendations and the evaluation
report.

Wind Bracing 19 Last Updated: 8/22/08


Listed below are some of the available proprietary products.

TABLE 7: PROPRIETARY SYSTEMS


ICC-ES Available Lengths
Product Evaluation As a Braced Wall
Report # As a Portal Frame
Panel
Simpson Strong Tie Steel Strong Wall1 ESR-1679 12", 15", 18", 21", 24" 12", 15", 18", 21", 24"
Simpson Strong Tie Shear Wall PFC-5485 16", 22" 18", 24", 32", 48"
Weyerhaeuser iLevel TJ Shear Panel ESR-1281 16", 22" 18", 24", 32", 48"
Weyerhaeuser iLevel Shear Brace ESR-2632 12", 18" 12", 18"
1
Hardy Panels PFC-5342 12", 18", 24" 12", 18", 24"
1
Panels can be stacked for two-story walls; restrictions apply. See manufacturers' literature for more information.
2
Fairfax County does not endorse any of the products listed above.

ENGINEERED DESIGN
If you wish to deviate from the prescriptive code requirements, then you must have your wall bracing
designed by a registered design professional licensed in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Determine wind load using Section 1609 of the 2006 International Building Code. The basic wind speed for
Fairfax County is 90 mph. Most residential construction in Fairfax County qualifies as Exposure B with an
Importance Factor (Iw) of 1.00. Please note: wind load must be applied to both windward and
leeward sides simultaneously.
DESIGN METHOD AND CALCULATIONS
Section 2305, "General Design Requirements for Lateral-Force-Resisting Systems," and accepted
engineering practice shall be employed in the design professional's calculations. Calculations, at a
minimum, must:
• Show a detailed analysis of the wind load determination.
• Show a detailed design of the building diaphragms (Section 2305.2) and shear walls (Section
2305.3).
• Specify the sheathing thickness, nail sizes and nailing pattern for diaphragms and shear walls.
• Ensure there is an adequate load path to the foundation.
• Show a detailed analysis of all connections along the lateral load path.
• Show an analysis of the existing lateral load resisting system with the new applied loads when
utilizing an existing structure to resist lateral loads of an addition.
• Ensure post-to-beam connections are capable of resisting shear and rotation.
• Bear the original signature and seal of the registered design professional.
Calculations which do not meet the above requirements will not be approved by Building Plan
Review during the permit application process.

CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS
All plans submitted to the county for permit application and plan review must have all braced wall lines,
braced wall panels and method(s) clearly identified. Plans will not be approved otherwise.

When submitting plans for a building that utilizes a proprietary product or an engineered design, the
related evaluation report and/or calculations must be attached to the plans. The drawings must also
include comprehensive details outlining the construction requirements of the diaphragms and shear walls.
These detail sheets must also bear the original signature and seal of the responsible registered design
professional.

Wind Bracing 20 Last Updated: 8/22/08


FAQS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There have been no major catastrophic events in Fairfax County due to wind. What has
prompted theses new wind bracing requirements?
One driving force for wind bracing provisions has been the insurance industry who's involvement in
building code development intensified after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the Northridge Earthquake in
1994. While Fairfax County has not recently experienced a widespread and devastating wind event, the
code requires all residential construction to be designed to resist the potential for such events. A
jurisdiction's probability for wind events is based on its proximity to the coastline and/or other high wind
regions. Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and the tornados from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 are just a few reminders
of the potential in Fairfax County for high winds.

Does Section R602.10 apply to sunrooms and cold-formed steel construction?


No. Section R602.10 applies only to light framed wood construction. Sunrooms constructed of aluminum
or steel and any house or addition construction using cold-formed steel requires an engineered solution.

What does the county expect to see in a engineered shear wall design during permit
application?
As noted in Engineered Design on page 20, a set of calculations meeting the requirements therein must
be submitted to the county. In addition, the shear wall design detail must be shown on the drawings with
a minimum aspect ration of 3.5 to 1 (height to length) and must show, at a minimum, material thickness,
fastener spacing, stud size and spacing, hardware requirements and a signature and seal of the registered
design professional.

Can I construct a stud/pony wall above a portal frame at a garage door opening?
No. A stud/pony wall above a portal frame weakens the wall and creates an undesirable condition called a
"hinge." The ability of a wall with a hinge to resist wind load is severely reduced.

What are the requirements for wind bracing if I construct an enclosed room atop my deck?
The walls of your new room must meet the requirements of this publication. However, the posts of the
deck below must be designed by a registered design professional to resist lateral loads using accepted
engineering practice.

Can I construct a two-story braced wall panel using the prescriptive requirements of the code?
No. The maximum height of a braced wall panel using the Virginia Residential Code is 12 feet. See the
FAQ below for potential options.

If my design does not meet the prescriptive requirements of the code, what are my options?
You have two options. The first is to use a proprietary system such as those from Simpson Strong-Tie,
Weyerhaeuser or Hardy Frame. See Proprietary Systems on page 19 for more information. The second
is to have the structure designed by a registered design professional licensed in the commonwealth of
Virginia. See Engineered Design on page 20 for more information.

Are Simpson Strong-Tie, Weyerhaeuser and Hardy Frame wall bracing products available on the
east coast?
Yes. Representatives from all companies have indicated that their products are available to builders in our
area. For more information, contact Simpson Strong-Tie at 1-800-999-5099, TTY 711, Weyerhaeuser
at 1-800-242-4854, TTY 711, and Hardy Frame at 1-800-754-3030, TTY 711. A full list of braced
wall products acceptable in Fairfax County can be found at www.icc-es.org.

Can Thermoply be used as a braced wall panel?


Yes. Thermoply (Blue & Red) Structural Grade is considered equivalent to Method SFB for intermittent
bracing and can be an additional method for continuous sheathing. However, installation in either case
must be in strict conformance with the product's ICC-ES Evaluation Report (ESR-1122).

Wind Bracing 21 Last Updated: 8/22/08


Can sheets of OSB be placed with the long dimension horizontal to construct a braced wall
panel?
Yes. OSB can be placed horizontally provided all vertical joints are located at studs, horizontal joints are
blocked and all joints are edged nailed.

Does Fairfax County require an added inspection for wall bracing elements such as sheathing,
framing and nailing prior to the house or addition being wrapped?
No. Wall bracing elements will be inspected during the framing inspection.

If I call a braced wall line intermittent bracing with Method WSP (OSB) and infill the areas
between the braced wall panels with more OSB, am I required to analyze this braced wall line
as if it were continuous sheathing, Method CS-WSP?
No. This is the advantage to Method WSP. If you meet the three criteria for a braced wall line with
Method WSP and each panel is greater than or equal to the minimum panel length, then you can infill
between the panels with any material, even the same material as the panel itself, in this case OSB.
Analyzing this as Method CS-WSP is simply over designing the braced wall line and could possibly require
hold-downs, return panels and/or end panels.

Is there a fix for a portal frame, Methods IPF or CS-PF, that was constructed without the
header spanning atop the panel?
No. Both Methods IPF and CS-PF are laboratory tested assemblies that could not be proven using
standard engineering principles. Therefore, any fix would also require laboratory testing which most
builders do not have the capacity to do. So it is imperative to construct a portal frame correctly the first
time.

If I have a braced wall line with continuous sheathing on the second or third floors and I opt to
use a hold-down instead of a return panel (Options 2 or 4), how do I attach the hold-down?
Hold-downs, if installed per the manufacturers' recommendations, require a connection from the hold-
down device to an anchor bolt into the masonry or concrete foundation. Obviously this becomes
problematic for a braced wall line on the second floor. In this case, a galvanized strap, with an 800-pound
capacity, attached on the exterior side of the sheathing into a stud on the second floor and the first floor
will suffice.

Can a braced wall panel from a portal frame (Method IPF or CS-PF) with a length less than 24
inches be used as the return panel for a perpendicular braced wall line with continuous
sheathing?
Yes. A portal frame braced wall panel is considered equivalent to the return panel for an adjacent braced
wall line with continuous sheathing.

Can braced wall panels be constructed on a cantilevered floor?


Yes. Braced wall panels can be constructed on a cantilevered floor provided blocking is provided back at
the bearing wall and the cantilever limits of Section R502.3.3 of the Virginia Residential Code are followed.

Sources: International Code Council-Evaluation Service, APA – The Engineered Association, Simpson
Strong-Tie

Fairfax County is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities
and will provide this document in alternative formats and in different languages upon request. Please call
703-324-5033, TTY 711 or write Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Suite 659,
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035-5506. Please allow at least seven working days
for preparation of material.

A Fairfax County, Virginia Publication

Wind Bracing 22 Last Updated: 8/22/08