From hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to twisters in “Tornado Alley” and earthquakes in the West and Alaska, much of the United States experiences the violent forces of high winds and seismic activity. The devastation can be jaw-dropping. But builders can take a few simple steps when framing their homes to help them weather the storm.

Choose the right products. Install them correctly. Be prepared.

Product Selection

Performance, easy installation, and cost-effectiveness make OSB an ideal choice for roof decking, wall sheathing and sub-floors in areas prone to high winds and seismic activity.

OSB is strong and durable and absorbs stresses and impacts without weakening or degrading. Excellent dimensional stability and surface uniformity prevent deflection, de-lamination, warping, racking, and shape distortion.

Structural I-rated OSB panels, such as StructWall panels from RoyOMartin, are engineered for earthquake zones. Designed to minimize racking and provide added strength, they flex and absorb shock, reducing shifting and breakage.

Cody Johnson
Cody Johnson

In high-wind areas, oversize OSB wall sheathing panels, such as WindBrace panels from RoyOMartin, enable builders to tie the top plate to the bottom plate with a single sill-to-plate structural panel, increasing wall strength and eliminating the need for wall uplift hardware, blocking, and filler strips.

Correct Installation

Proper installation is essential. For a home to be resilient, it must transfer lateral loads—wind or seismic activity acting horizontally on the structure, or racking caused by seismic activity—to the foundation. This requires the shear wall and the roof and floor diaphragms to be properly fastened to the framing, tied together and tied to the foundation.

In areas prone to hurricanes and high winds, loss of roofing materials and sheathing is a primary concern. Building codes regarding the type, number, and spacing of fasteners must be followed.

Installing wall sheathing vertically helps keep sheathing and siding in place when the wind blows. Bardwell Homes, based in Baton Rouge, La., uses WindBrace XL extended length OSB panels, enabling crews to tie the top plate to the bottom plate with a single panel. “The panel is literally locked in,” says Michael Phung, vice president of construction and development at Bardwell Homes. “The nail patterns also are more accurate.”

In earthquake zones, the focus is on keeping a home firmly on its foundation. Structural I-rated wall sheathing, such as StructWall panels, provide the required strength and flexibility and can be installed horizontally or vertically. Panels must then be anchored according to code at both the sill plate and where the panel meets the second story or roof deck.

Jobsite Preparation

Builders in hurricane-prone areas have several days’ notice of a storm’s arrival. Phung outlines basic best practices for battening down the hatches.

  • Communicate with the crew and subcontractors before and after the storm.
  • Secure items that could blow away. (A drywalled garage with OSB panels nailed to the door frame works well.)
  • Contact the appropriate authorities to ensure access to the job site after the storm.

Mother Nature can unleash great fury. But with the right products, proper installation and some organization, builders can help their homes weather the storm.

To learn more about OSB Panels for storm and wind resistance, visit