Does the wall in the image need additional support? I intend to put a 24" wide closet in a hallway. The Wall has a diagonal beam going across it. I believe the beam was put there for shear. Supporting horizontal forces (wind etc..).

I will be adding another 2x4 to support the load of the roof. I will also add a header for the closet. Both are shown in black in the image. Would you recommend additional support to the wall to help with load or shear?

Structure: 1962, Split level Location: Western North Carolina



  • 2
    This is going to come down to opinion, mostly, since we don't have engineering specs for your home. Mine is that for such a small opening you can forego the shear bracing (which has mostly gone out of fashion anyway--exterior wall sheathing does the job now).
    – isherwood
    Feb 6, 2020 at 16:19
  • You've implied that this is a bearing wall, so be sure your header is up to the task of carrying whatever pin studs rest on it. I'd go with double 2x6 or better.
    – isherwood
    Feb 6, 2020 at 16:20
  • 1
    Thanks for your insight @isherwood . I assumed the same, but got a tornado warning this morning and thought I'd triple check. Although we don't commonly get earth quakes nor hurricane winds here, we do get tornadoes once every few years.
    – tkolleh
    Feb 6, 2020 at 16:23
  • Same here in Minnesota, and the only homes that have shear walls like this were built before the 80s.
    – isherwood
    Feb 6, 2020 at 18:20
  • 2
    i see that you have the supervisor visiting your construction site in the top picture ... lol
    – jsotola
    Feb 6, 2020 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


We don’t design for what’s normal. We design for the unusual. Just because you don’t have wind storms too often, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take precautions for high winds.

Structural shear walls are usually at the exterior (perimeter) of the house. However, perimeter shear walls can only resist a certain amount. If the house is more than 3:1 length to width or if it has an unusual shape (like “L” shaped) or a split level house, then interior shear walls are often required.

You call the diagonal brace a “beam”. I call it a diagonal shear brace. (The code allows diagonal shear braces, in lieu of plywood shear walls.)

I suspect the diagonal shear brace is structural, because someone went to a lot of work to carefully cut the studs for the diagonal brace. One way of checking to verify that it is structural is to 1) verify that it extends from the top plate to the sole plate, 2) verify that a diagonal brace or shear wall (plywood or OSB board) extends up to the roof in the attic DIRECTLY above the diagonal brace, 3) verify that a diagonal brace or shear wall extends down to a CONTINUOUS footing. (Are those 2-16 d nails into each stud?)

If any of these conditions do not apply, then it’s not a structural shear wall FOR WIND OR EARTHQUAKES. (However, it could be for lateral stability for stairs or some other element. To verify that, we’d need more detail.)

  • I've verified that the diagonal brace extends from the top plate to the sole plate. Fairly confident that the nails are 2-16 in each stud. Assuming its structural what measures can be taken to maintain the same level of resistance to horizontal forces. Given that 24" of a 92" wall will be used for closet space.
    – tkolleh
    Feb 6, 2020 at 23:54
  • @tkolleh You’ve lost about 25% value. I see two options: Option 1: remove remainder of gypsum board, install 1/2” plywood nailed at 6” oc, reinstall gypsum board. Option 2: install 1x4 let-in-bracing at maximum 60 degree angle. Make sure it goes from bottom plate to top plate. Nail with 2-10d at each stud. (This is not acceptable in seismic zones D and D2.) Do not remove existing bracing in order to attach 1x4 to bottom plate.
    – Lee Sam
    Feb 7, 2020 at 0:50
  • I contacted a structural engineer to review the changes and to discuss some future changes I'd like to make. I'll update this post with their analysis.
    – tkolleh
    Feb 7, 2020 at 3:41
  • @tkolleh Excellent, but make sure it’s a structural engineer, not a civil engineer. (You can ask him what his Structural Engineering license number is in your state. Then Google it to confirm.)
    – Lee Sam
    Feb 7, 2020 at 4:10

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