This is a Wood Shear Wall

By Dan Martel, P.E. | August 20, 2020

While this wall may look like just another wood stud wall, it is actually a highly-engineered structural element that requires precise construction.

Wood shear walls are used to resist both vertical loads (in this case: snow on the roof above) and horizontal loads (in this case: wind and earthquakes). Wood structural panels (seen here is ZIP sheathing) are nailed to the vertical studs to create a rigid rectangular wall that resists the horizontal loads. This taller-than-average wall required 2×8 studs, horizontal blocking at every sheathing panel joint, and lots of nails.

Wood shear walls are a common and efficient system for resisting horizontal loads in both residential and commercial buildings. They are called shear walls because the horizontal load creates shear forces in such a slender wall element that must be transferred to the foundation. Like any other structural element, to be effective they must be designed and constructed correctly

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