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Load Path Continuity (not new!)

1982 UBC Section 2303: shall result in a system that provides a complete load path capable of transferring all loads and forces from their point of origin to the load-resisting elements.

Load Path Design & Detailing

Most Important! Not Always Provided by Engineer Not Always Enforced by Jurisdiction Not understood by all players

Quotes from the EERI White Paper Report:

There is a lack of conceptual understanding of building performance in an earthquake. The engineering profession is placing insufficient emphasis on developing education materials for and providing training to trades workers and inspectors Encourage providers and producers of education materials that primarily target engineers to cooperate with existing providers serving the trades and inspectors.

The goal is to improve the presentation of

technical information to nontechnical audiences.

Sharing Common Goals Building Owner Architect/Engineer Contractor/Trades Worker Specialty Inspector Building Department Staff (BO/PCE/BI) Insurance Company Our Common Goal: Protect the Public Who Occupy Buildings

1. What element provides support for the top of a wall which is subjected to out-of-plane wind or seismic loading? A[ ] The shear walls B[ ] The foundation C[ ] The horizontal diaphragm D[ ] The drag strut 2. What element carries and distributes the horizontal diaphragm shear to the shear walls? A[ ] The collector or drag strut B[ ] The shear walls C[ ] The subdiaphragm D[ ] The diaphragm chord

3. What element usually serves as the horizontal diaphragm chord in a typical single family dwelling with plywood shear walls? A[ ] The holdown device B[ ] The double top plates C[ ] The eave blocking D[ ] The sill anchor bolts
4. What elements transfer the in-plane shear (sliding) force of the shear wall to the shear wall footing? A[ ] The holdown device B[ ] The drag strut C[ ] The diaphragm chord D[ ] The sill anchor bolts

Earthquake Basics

Pacific/N. American Plate

San Andreas Fault - Plate Boundary 160 Known Active Faults

Ground Motion
Acceleration/Inertial Forces

EQ Strength
1. Distance to Focus (hypocntr)
Shallow Stronger Shaking

2. Magnitude
3. Site Soil
Soft Soil


Higher Magnitude

Stronger Shaking

California really has Earthquakes

Date 1836 1838 1852 1857 1861 1861 1868 1872 1890 1899 1906 1922 1925 1927 1933 1934 1934 Fault Location Magnitude Hayward 7.0* San Andreas 7.0* Big Pine --San Andreas 8.0* Calveras --San Andreas --Hayward 7.0* Owens Valley 8.3* San Andreas --San Jacinto 6.6* San Andreas 8.3 San Andreas 6.5 Mesa/Santa Ynez 6.3 Santa Ynez 7.5 Newport-Inglewood 6.3 San Andreas 6.0 San Jacinto 7.1 Date 1940 1947 1950 1951 1952 1956 1966 1966 1968 1971 1979 1987 1989 1990 1992 1992 1994 Fault Location Imperial Manix Fort Sage Superstition Hills White Wolf San Miguel Imperial San Andreas Coyote Creek San Fernando Imperial Whittier Loma Prieta Upland Yucca Valley Cape Mendocino Northridge Magnitude 7.1 6.4 5.6 5.6 7.7 6.8 3.6 5.5 6.4 6.6 6.6 6.1 7.1 5.5 7.4 7.0 6.6

Building Response EQ Force on Depends:

Type of Structural System Dynamic Properties: Building Period
Stiffness / Mass / Height

Design Response < Ground Acceleration

Damping / Ductility / Overstrength

Resonance Amplifies Forces

Stiff Systems
Shorter Periods Higher Forces Stiffer Systems Attract More Force

Building Response Building Shape & Configuration

Regular Buildings
Uniform Force Distribution More Predictable Response

Irregular Buildings
Force Concentrations Less Predictable Response

Building Offsets
Vertical & Horizontal

Stiffness & Strength Variations

Weak Story Soft Story

Key Elements in the LFRS Roof (horiz. diaphragm) Floors (horiz. diaphragm) Shear Walls (vert. diaphragm) Foundation Load Distributing Elements:
Get the load FROM the point of origin TO the resisting element: Complete Load Path Details, details, details Connections, connections, connections

Wood Frame Buildings

Horizontal Diaphragm: A large thin deep beam loaded in its plane which spans between and distributes loads to the supporting shear walls. The horizontal diaphragm supports the out-of-plane walls, and distributes loads to the supporting shear walls.


Wood Frame Buildings

Factors affecting the allowable load of wood structural panels horizontal diaphragms:
Blocked or unblocked Sheet thickness Nail size and spacing Sheet layout pattern Framing member size Orientation of load
New Terminology: Wood Structural Panel defined in Section 2302 and means all structural panel products (UBC Std. 23-2 or 23-3) includes plywood, OSB, waferboardetcbut NOT particleboard


Horizontal Diaphragm Boundaries

Boundaries Boundaries

Interior shear wall

Boundaries Boundaries


Diaphragm boundaries may not just occur at the perimeter of the diaphragm. Interior shear walls and drag members create diaphragm boundaries. 12

Horizontal Diaphragm Nailing


Sub Diaphragms
Subdiaphragm - a smaller diaphragm within the main horizontal diaphragm used to transmit anchorage forces (from out-of-plane wall loads) to the main diaphragm cross-ties (Section 1633.2.9). Sub-Chord - the boundary member which serves as the sub-diaphragm chord member. Sub-ties carry wall anchorage forces to sub-chord. Subdiaphragms are primarily used in buildings with masonry or concrete walls with plywood roof or floors to minimize the number of continuous ties between diaphragm chords required by Section 1633.2.9.
subdiaphragms shown dashed

main diaphragm

main cross ties

Maximum width-to-depth ratio of subdiaphragms is limited to 2 1/2:1


Roof Diaphragm Nailing Diagram


Diaphragm Chord / Beam Analogy Simple Beam Moment Resistance:

Compression in the Top Fiber Tension in the Bottom Fiber

Horizontal Diaphragm Moment Resistance:

Tension Chord Compression Chord


Diaphragm Chord / Beam Analogy






Compressive Stress

Tensile Stress



Wood Frame Shear Walls Shear Wall: A cantilevered vertical diaphragm which supports the horizontal diaphragm and distributes lateral loads to the foundation.
Bearing Walls are not necessarily shear walls Shear Walls are not necessarily bearing walls

Shear Walls are:

Engineered Designed & Detailed

Shear Walls are NOT:

Braced Wall Panels or Alternate BWPs

Wood Frame Shear Walls Important Shear Wall Properties

Resists Lateral Forces

Resists Deflection Limits Building Drift which Limits Damage

Shear Wall Deflection

Height-to-Width Ratio Sheathing Thickness Fastener Slip


Wood Frame Shear Walls Some specific requirements for wood structural panel shear wall diaphragms:
Must be fully blocked. No unblocked edge allowed in wood structural panel shear walls The holdown device (if required) must be connected to the edge (chord) members of the shear wall. The shear wall sheathing must be edge nailed to the edge member that is connected to the holdown device. The shear wall sheathing must be edge nailed to the top and bottom (perimeter) members of the shear wall.


Wood Frame Shear Walls Forces Acting on Shear Walls:

Sliding Force in Plane of Wall (Shear)
Resisted by Anchorage to Sill or Foundation Plate

1997 UBC
3X foundation sill & 3X framing at abutting panel joints where edge nail spacing less than 6 o.c.

Overturning Forces (Moment)

Resisted by Holdown Anchor Devices Resisted by dead load (weight) of footing


Shear Wall Holdowns Not all shear walls require holdowns

Small lateral loads & large dead loads (stable) Long shear walls - long resisting moment arm

Proper Holdown Installation

Proper size:
Stud size, Holdown, Stud anchor, anchor bolt

Properly Located NO countersunk stud bolts NO shims at holdown


Foundations - 1997 UBC Chapter 18 Anchor Bolts (Section 1806.6)

Seismic Zone 3 requires 1/2 @ 6 o.c. Seismic Zone 4 requires 5/8 @ 6 o.c. 7 embedment into concrete 7 bolt diameters from end of sill

Square Plate Washer (Section 1806.6.1)

2 x 2 x 3/16 square plate washer required

Reinforcing (Section 1806.7)

Seismic Zone 3 & 4:
1-#4 Continuous top and bottom Monolithic slab on grade may have 1-#5

Permissible Diaphragm Aspect Ratios Wood structural panels and particleboard, nailed all edges:
Horizontal Diaphragms: 4:1
Particleboard Not Permitted as Horizontal Diaphragm

Vertical Diaphragms:
3.5:1 in Zone 3 2:1 in Zone 4

Wood structural panels and particleboard, blocking omitted at intermediate joints:

Horizontal Diaphragms: 4:1
Particleboard Not Permitted as Horizontal Diaphragm

*Vertical Diaphragms: Unblocked Not Permitted


Diaphragm Aspect Ratios - Table 23-II-G


2.28 (Zone 3) 4.00 (Zone 4)

2.57 (Zone 3) 4.50 (Zone 4)

2.86 (Zone 3) 5.00 (Zone 4)

Footnote 1 of Tables 23-II-I-1 & 23-II-I-2 requires that all panel edges be backed with 2x or wider framing. Section. 2315.5.3 requires that, Framing members or blocking shall be provided at the edges of all sheets in shear walls.

A Failure Mechanism
Question: What if only one shear transfer mechanism were omitted? What is the result? Suppose only one shear wall has an incomplete load path. What could happen under design loading? The share of its load never arrives at the disconnected shear wall. Since that shear wall is not supporting its share of load, its load is distributed to the remaining shear walls. The remaining shear walls are subjected to more load than they were designed for The remaining shear walls are then overloaded so they in turn fail. The Result: The entire lateral force resisting system fails because of incomplete load-path to only one resisting element.


Complete Load Path

Complete load path means Complete shear transfer details