Large-scale Tests of Seismically Enhanced Planar Walls for Residential Construction

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As part of an investigation to enhance the seismic performance of light-frame residential structures by reducing damage to partition walls and other deformation-sensitive components, this report describes the testing and experimental results of twenty full-scale gypsum-sheathed walls. The experiments investigated the effects of enhanced, inexpensive construction procedures with the objective to increase the racking strength and stiffness of partition-type shear walls, lessening seismic deformations. A majority of the specimens utilized wood framing members, while four specimens featured cold-formed steel framing. The specimens were subjected to cyclic earthquake-type loading through established loading histories for light-frame components. The stiffness, strength, and damage progression of specimens with varying wall length, openings, orthogonal wall returns, tie-down and anchoring configurations, and interior and exterior sheathings are discussed. Iterative tests of specific interior wall geometries determined the optimal construction techniques required to reduce deformations and improve life-cycle performance. The main improvement to these specimens over typical construction was the use of construction adhesive and mechanical fasteners to attach the sheathing to the framing. Additional enhancements included mid-height blocking, improved corner stud assemblies, properly sized tie downs at the ends of wall segments, exterior stucco engagement, and bent straps on the exterior of planar wood-framed walls. The stiffness, strength, and residual capacity of specimens with orthogonal walls increased as compared to specimens with in-plane-only shear walls.


Type of resource text
Date created August 2014


Author Hopkins, A
Author Fell, BV
Author Deierlein, GGD
Author Miranda, E


Subject seismic performance
Subject light-frame
Subject residential structures
Subject wood frame
Subject steel frame
Subject life-cycle performance
Genre Technical report

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Hopkins, A and Fell, BV and Deierlein, GGD and Miranda, E. (2014). Large-scale Tests of Seismically Enhanced Planar Walls for Residential Construction. John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center Technical Report 186. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center Technical Report Series

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