Standardizing the Shear Wall Schedule

By Scot Simpson

Shear walls are designed to provide lateral stability for buildings. They are used more and more as the building codes get tougher to improve safety and reduce possible destruction from earthquakes. The shear wall schedule defines how shear walls are to be built.

Shear walls are developed by engineers and each engineer has his own idea how schedules should look. Some of the shear wall schedules are relatively easy to use, but others create frustration deciphering how the engineer wants the walls framed. One of the biggest problems with many schedules is that the labels for the shear walls do not have any relationship to the components of the wall. These labels are only defined in the shear wall schedule which is typically located on a sheet in the plans many sheets away from where the shear wall is drawn and identified. So when the framer is on site laying out shear walls, he has to shuffle through the plans to find the shear wall schedule just to interpret how to build each wall. It doesn’t sound like a problem, but when you are on site working with a well used and crinkled set of plans, finding anything is time consuming. One of the main components of the Framers Council Standard Shear Wall Schedule is a labeling system. This labeling contains most of what a framer needs to know about the wall. That way, flipping through plan sheets is minimized.

The Framers Council developed the Standard Shear Wall Schedule in the same manner that it developed its other projects. It started by discussing it at regular council meetings. The Council is made up of a diverse group of industry members including framing contractors, structural engineers, material and hardware suppliers, L&I officials and many more. For this particular project the Structural Engineers Wood Council also spent time reviewing and designing the schedule. After the Council had developed the basic schedule a public forum was held to get input and make final changes to the schedule. This forum was held March 3, 2004 . At the forum new input came from building officials. They are concerned about the schedule because they regularly have to interpret plans with a limited amount of time to inspect shear walls.

There were two schedules developed. They are the same except one shows examples of shear walls.

Download the following schedule directly to your plans if you like. It will benefit everyone using your shear wall schedule.

Understanding the Schedule

In the Label column:
W stands for wood (usually plywood or OSB)
G stands for gypsum (GWB)
The number after the letter stands for the edge nailing pattern
The 2 before the letter stands for sheathing on two sides

Most of the other columns are pretty self explanatory. Rows W6 and 2W4 are just filled in as examples of possible listings. One thing to note is that the nails are listed as diameter and length instead of d (penny).

This schedule is not going to be exactly what everyone would like for themselves. It was developed to make it as universal and simple to work with as possible. As such there was compromise between the parties, particularly the engineers who write the schedules and the framers, building inspectors and contractors who use the schedules.

It will be beneficial to everyone if this schedule is used as the standard. The engineers will no longer have to labor with developing a shear wall schedule format or guess at what would be the best for those in the field. Those in the field will be able to understand the shear wall schedule without first learning the engineer’s individual format.

The most important thing now is that the schedule gets used. If you are an engineer, please start using this schedule. If you are anyone else in the industry ask for this schedule to be used.

An important thing to remember is that this standard will improve the quality of construction by causing less mistakes and making inspection easier for everyone. As soon as framing contractors can start telling their crews that the wall is a W6 and the crew understands what that means it will reduce mistakes. When engineers, framing, contractors and building inspectors can communicate using a common language with shear wall labels it will make organization, coordination and quality control easier.