Bracing of residential buildings helps to maintain the structural integrity and rigidity of a house by preventing displacements and deformations. During wall bracing, diagonal tension rods, steel ropes, wooden boards, and other materials are used to secure a building. Bracing materials can either be exposed or hidden behind structural components. Building experts recommend that for wall bracing to be effective, the bracing elements should be installed diagonally with vertical load-bearing parts of a structure such as beams, walls, and columns that transfer stress to a building's foundation. This article examines a few facts about wall bracing for residential buildings.
Why Wall Bracing is Important
Wall bracing offers racking resistance against lateral (horizontal) loads from earthquakes and winds. Also, wall bracing mitigates against the distortion of wall studs as a result of excessive load; it averts the collapse of a structure, mainly sideways. The absence of wall bracing in some buildings can lead to blocking and cracking of door openings and windows. Furthermore, you are likely to experience distortion of non-load bearing components of a building. Therefore, wall bracing ensures that a residential structure is safe for occupation or use.
Bracing systems can be categorised as engineered or prescriptive with the former system being designed by structural engineers based on residential project needs. A prescriptive bracing system, on the other hand, is simple and flexible because it depends on the experience of a developer. An engineered bracing system is suitable for areas that experience strong winds or high seismic activities.
Foam bracing is a common technique because it not only improves the rigidity of a building but also offers insulation. Foam bracing is used on exterior walls whereby sheets of foam insulation are used to cover framing studs. The sheets vary in thickness depending on the requirements of a building. Notably, this system of bracing is labour-intensive. However, foam bracing is suitable for a building with one or two levels. Consult a structural engineer when choosing sheathing material, which must comply with the building code in your jurisdiction.
In most diagonal bracing systems, the material used for bracing is the same as the material used in a structure, such as steel rods. The quantity and location of bracing must be incorporated during the design phase of a building. One of the simplest methods of diagonal bracing is the use of wind-bracing straps. In this procedure, straps are positioned diagonally over components that carry the weight of a building, such as walls or columns. The straps are then attached to a structure with screws or nails. For those on a low budget or with limited space requirements, wind-bracing straps are ideal.
If you need help with wall bracing, contact a structural engineering service.