Improperly constructed gable end walls are a known weakness in residential structures in hurricane prone regions. With many of today’s architectural designs using increased wall heights and roof slopes, gable end walls can even be a concern in buildings with wood roof framing systems in areas of low wind design speeds or seismic activity. There are several references available for prescriptive design of these structural components for residential structures. Although these references are subject to limitations, they provide a basis of design that can be used for any structure. This article will discuss general design considerations, two basic methods for bracing gable end walls, prescriptive design methods available and their limitations, and provide recommended details for complete bracing of a gable end wall. Balloon framing of gable end walls is outside the scope of this article.
Follow-Up: June 30, 2011. This article was picked up in the Spring 2011 issue of The Scope, a newsletter for the Birmingham Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. You can link to the newsletter from my About page.