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NEHRP Seismic Design Technical Brief No. 10: Seismic Design of Wood Light-Frame Structural Diaphragm Systems



Kelly Cobeen, J. Daniel Dolan, Douglas Thompson, John van de Lindt


The seismic force-resisting system (SFRS) of a building consists of a three-dimensional collection of elements that transmit loads and forces from the point of occurrence to the foundation and supporting soils. This system typically consists of horizontal and vertical elements. When resisting seismic forces, the horizontal elements (i.e., roof and floors) are classified as diaphragms and act to transmit the forces horizontally from the point of origin to the vertical elements. The vertical elements (i.e., walls or frames) transmit the forces down to the next lower level or to the foundation. Together, these elements function as a system to provide a complete load path for seismic forces to flow through the building to the foundation and supporting soils. Diaphragms not only act to distribute the forces horizontally to the vertical elements of the system, they also tie the vertical elements together to act as a system so that they share the load rather than respond individually. For seismic forces, the diaphragms are an integral part of the SFRS and deserve significant attention during the design process.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) - 14-917-32
Report Number


NEHRP Consultants Joint Ventures, ATC, Seismic, Wood Light-Frame, Structural Diaphragm


Cobeen, K. , , J. , Thompson, D. and van, J. (2014), NEHRP Seismic Design Technical Brief No. 10: Seismic Design of Wood Light-Frame Structural Diaphragm Systems, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 15, 2024)


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Created September 23, 2014, Updated February 19, 2017