Welcome to the Structural Engineering Blog


Welcome to our Structural Engineering Blog! I’m Paul McEntee, Engineering R&D Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie. We’ll cover a variety of structural engineering topics here that I hope interest you and help with your projects and work. Social media is “uncharted territory” for a lot of us (me included!), but we here at Simpson Strong-Tie think this is a good way to connect and even start useful discussions among our peers in a way that’s easy to use and doesn’t take up too much of your time. Continue reading

Top 10 Changes to Structural Requirements in the 2018 IBC

This blog post will continue our series on the final results of the 2016 ICC Group B Code Change Hearings, and will focus on 10 major approved changes, of a structural nature, to the International Building Code (IBC).

  1. Adoption of ASCE 7-16
    • The IBC wind speed maps and seismic design maps have been updated.
    • A new section has been added to Chapter 16 to address tsunami loads.
    • Table 1607.1 has been revised to change the deck and balcony Live Loads to 1.5 times that of the occupancy served.
  2. New and Updated Reference Standards
    • 2015 IBC Standard ACI 530/ASCE 5/TMS 402-13 will be TMS402-16.
    • ACI 530.1/ASCE 6/TMS 602-13 will be TMS 602-16.
    • AISC 341-10 and 360-10 have both been updated to 2016 editions.
    • AISI S100-12 was updated to the 2016 edition.
    • AISI S220-11 and S230-07 were updated to the 2015 edition.
    • AISI S200, S210, S211, S212 and S214 have been combined into a new single standard, AISI S240-15.
    • AISI S213 was split into the new S240 and AISI S400-15.
    • ASCE 41-13 was updated to the 2017 edition.
    • The ICC 300 and ICC 400 were both updated from 2012 editions to 2017 editions.
    • ANSI/NC1.0-10 and ANSI/RD1.0-10 were all updated to 2017 editions.
  3. Section 1607.14.2 Added for Structural Stability of Fire Walls
    • This new section takes the 5 psf from NFPA 221, so designers will have consistent guidance on how to design fire walls for stability without having to buy another standard.
  4. Modifications of the IBC Special Inspections Approved
    • Section 1704.2.5 on special inspection of fabricated items has been clarified and streamlined.
    • The Exception to 1705.1.1 on special inspection of wood shear walls, shear panels and diaphragms was clarified to say that special inspections are not required when the specified spacing of fasteners at panel edges is more than 4 inches on center.
    • The special inspection requirements for structural steel seismic force-resisting systems and structural steel elements in seismic force-resisting systems were clarified by adding exceptions so that systems or elements not designed in accordance with AISC 341 would not have to be inspected using the requirements of that standard.
  5. Changes Pertaining to Storm Shelters
    • A new Section 1604.11 states that “Loads and load combinations on storm shelters shall be determined in accordance with ICC 500.”
    • An exception was added stating that when a storm shelter is added to a building, “the risk category for the normal occupancy of the building shall apply unless the storm shelter is a designated emergency shelter in accordance with Table 1604.5.”
    • Further clarification in Table 1604.5 states that the type of shelters designated as risk category IV are “Designated emergency shelters including earthquake or community storm shelters for use during and immediately after an event.”
  6. Changes to the IBC Conventional Construction Requirements in Chapter 23
    • The section on anchorage of foundation plates and sills to concrete or masonry foundations reorganized the requirements by Seismic Design Category (SDC) and added a new section on anchoring in SDC E. It also states that the anchor bolt must be in the middle third of the width of the plate and adds language to the sections on higher SDCs saying that if alternate anchor straps are used, they need to be spaced to provide equivalent anchorage to the specified 1/2″- or 5/8″-diameter bolts.
    • The second change permits single-member 2-by headers, to allow more space for insulation in a wall. 
  7. Modification to the Requirements for Nails and Staples in the IBC
    • ASTM F1667 Supplement One was adopted that specifies the method for testing nails for bending-yield strength and identifies a required minimum average bending moment for staples used for framing and sheathing connections.
    • Stainless-steel nails are required to meet ASTM F1667 and use Type 302, 304, 305 or 316 stainless steel, as necessary to achieve the corrosion resistance assumed in the code.
    • Staples used with preservative-treated wood or fire-retardant-treated wood are required to be stainless steel.
    • The new RSRS-01 nail was incorporated into TABLE 2304.10.1, the Fastening Schedule. The RSRS nail is a new roof sheathing ring shank nail designed to achieve higher withdrawal resistances, in order to meet the new higher component and cladding uplift forces of ASCE 7-16.
  8. Truss-Related Code Change
    • The information required on the truss design drawings was changed from “Metal connector plate type” to “Joint connection type” in recognition that not all trusses use metal connector plates.
  9. Code Change to Section 2304.12.2.2
    • A code change clarifies in which cases posts or columns will not be required to consist of naturally durable or preservative-treated wood. This change makes the requirements closer to the earlier ones, while maintaining consistency with the subsequent section on supporting members.
    • If a post or column is not naturally durable or preservative-treated, it will have to be supported by concrete piers or metal pedestals projecting at least 1″ above the slab or deck, such as Simpson Strong-Tie post bases that have a one-inch standoff.
  10. Code Change to IBC Appendix M
    • A code change from FEMA makes IBC Appendix M specific to refuge structures for vertical evacuation from tsunami, and the tsunami hazard mapping and structural design guidelines of ASCE 7-16 would be used rather than those in FEMA P-646.

Once the 2018 IBC is published in the fall, interested parties will have only a few months to develop code changes that will result in the 2021 I-Codes. Similar to this last cycle, code changes will be divided into two groups, Group A and Group B, and Group A code changes are due January 8, 2018. The schedule for the next cycle is already posted here.

What changes would you like to see for the 2021 codes?

The New Way to Connect with Strong Frame®

The April SE blog article, What Makes Strong Frame® Special Moment Frames So Special, explained the features and benefits of the Yield-Link® structural fuse design for the Strong Frame® special moment frame (SMF) connection. In this blog, I will be introducing the Yield-Link end-plate link (EPL) to the Strong Frame connection family.

What is the EPL?
The EPL connection (Figure 1) is the latest addition to the Strong Frame Strong Moment Frame (SMF) solution. The new EPL connection can accommodate a W8X beam which is approximately a 33% reduction in beam depth from a W12X beam. The frame is field bolted without the need for field welding which means a faster installation. The snug-tight bolt installation requirement means no special tools are required. The EPL SMF connection has the same benefit of not requiring any additional beam bracing as the T-Stub connection. The frame can be repaired after a large earthquake by replacing the Yield-Link connection. Since the shear tab bolts will be factory installed, installation time for the frame is reduced by 25% making the EPL connection one of the most straightforward connections to assemble.

Figure 1: New Yield-Link EPL connection

Why Did We Develop the EPL?
The development of the EPL came from strong interest and numerous requests to offer a solution with more head room for clearance of retrofit projects or enhancement for new construction using a shallower beam profile. The original T-stub link design has the shear tab welded to the column flange. The geometry of the shear tab meant that a W12X beam is required to accommodate the Yield-Link Flange. In Figure 2, you can see that a shallower beam profile will bring the Yield-Link flange closer to each other and limit the attachment of the shear tab. A new connection was needed.

Figure 2: Yield-Link flange interference with shear tab

Figure 3: 3 Bolt configuration with notched flange plate. (The 3rd bolt is on opposite side of beam.) The asymmetric layout produced uneven force distribution in the bolts.

How Did We Develop the EPL?
Multiple configurations were studied, including a notched flange plate with 3 bolts (Figure 3) to avoid interference with the shear tab connection to the column. In the end, a compact end plate link combining the shear tab and Yield-Link stem in a single connection was the final design. However, many questions loomed over the prototype. How will the single end plate design perform in a full scale test? Will the new configuration change the limit state? These questions needed to be studied prior to launching an expensive full-scale test program with multiple samples and configurations. Numerous Finite Element Analysis (FEA) models were studied and refined prior to full scale testing of a prototype. Modeling included ensuring the stem performs as a fuse (Figure 4) as discussed in the April blog and the integrity of the shear tab is maintained in the compact design. Figure 5 shows a graph comparing the analytical model to the actual full scale test. The full scale test with a complete beam and column assembly was performed to the requirements under AISC 341 Section K. The full scale test passed the requirements for the SMF classification as can be seen in Figure 6 for the specimen with 6-inch columns and 9-inch beam.

Figure 4: Equivalent Plastic Strain Plot of Yielding-Link Stem

Figure 5: Full Scale Test vs. Analytical model

Figure 6: Moment at Face of Column vs. Story Drift

Where Can I Get More Information?
The EPL is now recognized in the ICC-ES ESR-2802 code report as an SMF. EPL solutions are also offered in the Strong Frame Moment Frame Selector Software. Want to see how the new connection and member sizes can expand your design options? Visit www.strongtie.com to download the new Strong Frame Design Guide or contact your Simpson representative for more information.

Keep Your Roof On

He huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the roof sheathing off! That’s not the way kids’ tale goes, but the dangers high winds pose to roof sheathing are very real. Once the roof sheathing is gone, the structure is open and its contents are exposed to the elements and much more vulnerable to wind or water damage. It is a storyline that we meet all too often in the news.

About two years ago, the ASTM subcommittee on Driven and Other Fasteners (F16.05), addressed fastening for roof sheathing in high-wind areas by adding a special nail to ASTM F1667-17 – Standard Specification for Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes and Staples. The Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nail was added to the standard as Table 46. Figure 1 illustrates the nail and lists its geometrical specifications. This is a family of five ring-shank nails that can be made from carbon steel or stainless steel (300 series). Specific features of these nails are the ring pitch (number of rings per inch), the ring diameter over the shank, the length of deformed shank and the head diameter. Also, note B specifies that the nails shall comply with the supplementary requirement of Table S1.1, which tabulates bending yield strength. In this diameter class, the minimum bending yield strength allowed is 100 ksi.

Figure 1. Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nails (ASTM. 2017. Standard Specification for Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes and Staples, F1667-17. ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA.)

The IBHS (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety) discusses roof deck fastening in its Builders Guide that describes the “FORTIFIED for Safer Living” structures. The IBHS FORTIFIED program offers solutions that reduce building vulnerability to severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Keeping the roof sheathing on the structure is critical to maintaining a safe enclosure and minimizing damage, and roof sheathing ring-shank nails can be part of the solution. As Figure 2 from IBHS (2008) shows, every wood-frame structure has wind vulnerability.

Figure 2. Hurricane, high wind and tornado regions of the US (IBHS. 2008. Builders Guide, Fortified for Safer Living. Tampa, FL. 81 pp.)

More importantly for the wood-frame engineering community, the Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nails are being included in the next revision of the AWC National Design Specification for Wood Construction (NDS-2018), which is a reference document to both the International Building Code and the International Residential Code. You will be able to use the same NDS-2018, chapter 12 withdrawal equation to calculate the withdrawal resistance for Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nails and Post Frame Ring-Shank nails. The calculated withdrawal will be based on the length of deformed shank embedded in the framing member. Also, Designers need to consider the risk of nail head pull-through when fastening roof sheathing with ring-shank nails. If the pull-through for roof sheathing ring-shank nails is not published, you will be able to use the new pull-through equation in the NDS-2018 to estimate that resistance.
Simpson Strong-Tie has some stainless-steel products that meet the requirements for Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nails. These will be especially important to those in coastal high-wind areas. Table 1 shows some of the Simpson Strong-Tie nails that can be used as roof sheathing ring-shank nails. These nails meet the geometry and bending yield strength requirements given in ASTM F1667. See the Fastening Systems catalog C-F-2017 for nails in Type 316 stainless steel that also comply with the standard.

Table 1. Simpson Strong-Tie collated nails made from Type 304 stainless steel that comply with F1667-17 specifications for Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank Nails.

Improve your disaster resilience and withstand extreme winds by fastening the sheathing with roof sheathing ring-shank nails. You can find Roof Sheathing Ring-Shank nails in ASTM F1667, Table 46, and you will see them in the AWC NDS-2018, which will be available at the end of the year. Let us know your preferred fastening practices for roof sheathing.

What’s New in the ACI 440.2R-17?

The wait is over. The ACI 440.2R-17 Guide for the Design and Construction of Externally Bonded FRP Systems for Strengthening Concrete Structures is now available. The following post will highlight some of the major changes represented by this version of the document.

It’s been a long road and countless committee hours to get from the last version of ACI 440.2R-08 to this document. While there are multiple smaller changes throughout the document, the most notable update is the addition of Chapter 13 – Seismic Strengthening.


The new seismic chapter addresses the following FRP strengthening scenarios:

  • Section 13.3 – Confinement with FRP
    • This section includes all of the following: general considerations; plastic hinge region confinement; lap splice clamping; preventative buckling of flexural steel bars.
  • Section 13.4 – Flexural Strengthening
    • The flexural capacity of reinforced concrete beams and columns in expected plastic hinge regions can be enhanced using FRP only in cases where strengthening will transfer inelastic deformations from the strengthened region to other locations in the member or the structure that are able to handle the ensuing ductility demands.
  • Section 13.5 – Shear Strengthening
    • To enhance the seismic behavior of concrete members, FRP can be used to prevent brittle failures and promote the development of plastic hinges.
  • Section 13.6 – Beam-Column Joints
    • This section covers a great deal of recent research on the design and reinforcement of beam-column joints.
  • Section 13.7 – Strengthening Reinforced Concrete Shear Walls
    • This section provides many recommendations for FRP strengthening of R/C shear walls.

Simpson Strong-Tie Can Help

We recognize that specifying Simpson Strong-Tie® Composite Strengthening Systems™ (CSS) is unlike choosing any other product we offer. Leverage our expertise to help with your FRP strengthening designs. Our experienced technical representatives and licensed professional engineers provide complimentary design services and support – serving as your partner throughout the entire project cycle.

For complete information regarding specific products suitable to your unique situation or condition, please visit strongtie.com/css or call your local Simpson Strong-Tie RPS Specialist at (800) 999-5099.

Upcoming Free Webinar: Advanced FRP Design Principles

Join us live on July 25 for the second interactive webinar in the Simpson Strong-Tie FRP Best Practices Series: Advanced FRP Design Principles. In this webinar we will highlight some very important considerations during the FRP design processes. This will include topics such as the latest industry standards, proper use of material properties, and key governing limits when designing with FRP. Attendees will also have an opportunity to pose questions to our engineering team during the event. Continuing educations units will be offered for attending this webinar. 

Advanced FRP Design Principles

In this free webinar we will dive into some very important considerations including the latest industry standards, material properties and key governing limits when designing with FRP.


Revisiting Stainless-Steel Nail Calculations . . . .

This week’s post was written by Bob Leichti, Manager of Engineering for Fastening Systems.

Those of you who have been following the Simpson Strong-Tie SE Blog for a while may recall our 2013 blog post on the withdrawal resistance of stainless-steel nails. There have been several developments relating to that subject since that blog was posted, and we want to help you catch up.

First, the National Design Specification for Wood Construction (NDS) was revised in 2015. In the 2015-NDS revision, a new chapter 10, Cross-Laminated Timber, was created,, moving Dowel-Type Fasteners from Chapter 11 to Chapter 12. Every place in the original blog post where there is a snip of the NDS, you will find the same information in NDS-2015 Chapter 12. Did you know that you can download a free, view-only copy of the NDS from the American Wood Council at awc.org?

Second, after we published our blog post about stainless-steel nail withdrawal, a journal paper was published about withdrawal resistance of stainless-steel nails. This paper has all the nitty-gritty related to withdrawal resistance and bending yield strength for smooth-shank stainless-steel nails: Ramer, D.R. and Zelinka, S.L. (2015). “Withdrawal Strength and Bending Yield Strength of Stainless Steel Nails,” Journal of Structural Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. 141, no. 5, 7 pp. (DOI: 10:1061/ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0001088).

Third, the NDS has been through another revision cycle and will soon have a 2018 copyright date. The chapter on dowel-type fasteners has some significant revisions that we will discuss in a blog post when the NDS-2018 is published later this year. SPOILER ALERT: NDS-2018 has a new withdrawal function for smooth-shank stainless steel nails.

Stay tuned!

The Cold-Formed Steel Construction Catalog is HOT off the press!

The SE Blog is taking some time off for the 4th of July holiday this week. However, we’ve just released the 2017 edition of our Connectors for Cold-Formed Steel Construction catalog – order a hard copy to be mailed to your office or download a PDF copy and start using it today!

Connectors For Cold-Formed Steel Construction

The C-CF-2017 is a 308-page catalog including specifications, load tables and installation illustrations for our cold-formed steel connectors and clips, helping you easily specify and install in commercial curtain-wall, mid-rise and residential construction.

How Heat Treating Helps Concrete Anchoring Products Meet Tougher Load Demands

Joel Houck is a senior R&D engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie’s Infrastructure-Commercial-Industrial (ICI) group based out of the new West Chicago, IL location. He has spent the last 17 years with Simpson developing new mechanical anchors and adhesive anchor components, as well as developing a lot of the lab equipment required to test these products. This experience has given him extensive knowledge and insight into the concrete anchor industry, especially when it comes to the proper function and performance of anchors. Joel is a professionally licensed mechanical engineer in the state of Illinois.

There’s a saying in Chicago, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes.” That’s especially true in the spring, when temperatures can easily vary by over 50° from one day to the next. As the temperature plunges into the blustery 30s one evening following a sunny high in the 80s, I throw my jacket on over my T-shirt, and I’m reminded that large swings in temperature tend to bring about changes in behavior as well. This isn’t true just with people, but with many materials as well, and it brings to mind a thermal process called heat treating. This is a process that is used on some concrete anchoring products in order to make them stronger and more durable. You may have heard of this process without fully understanding what it is or why it’s useful. In this post, I will try to scratch the surface of the topic with a very basic overview of how heat treating is used to improve the performance of concrete anchors.

According to the ASM Handbook: Heat Treating, heat treatment is a process of heating and cooling a solid metal or alloy in such a way as to obtain desired conditions or properties.1 In practical terms, metals (usually steel in the case of most concrete anchors) are heat treated in order to improve their properties in some way over their base condition. When steel wire is formed into the complex shapes of anchors during the manufacturing process, the steel needs to be soft and formable; however, it is often beneficial to the performance of the final anchor product to be much harder and stronger than the base steel from which it’s formed. That’s where heat treating comes into play. By heating and cooling soft steel in a controlled manner, changes are made to the crystal structure of the steel in order to improve mechanical properties such as hardness, toughness, strength or wear resistance. Although the steel undergoes very complex microstructural changes during the heat treatment process, the end result is fairly straightforward – the once soft steel becomes harder and stronger as dictated by the heat treating process. As concrete anchors become more and more complex in order to meet the needs of building codes and designers, heat treating is becoming a more common and necessary component of high-strength anchors.

Figure 1. Steel microstructures: (a) soft steel example; (b) heat treated steel example.2

Depending on the desired results, there are many different types of heat treating processes that can be considered. The type of heat treatment and the parameters that are used can be customized for the steel type and the specific anchor application. There are several different types of heat treatments that are typically used for anchors. Two of the most common types are through hardening (also called neutral hardening) and surface hardening (also called case hardening).

Figure 2. Fasteners entering a heat treating furnace.3

Through hardening changes the mechanical properties (hardness, strength, ductility, etc.) of the steel without affecting its chemical composition. In order to alter the microstructure of the steel, it is heated in a furnace to a very high temperature, and then rapidly cooled, usually by submerging it in a liquid quench medium such as water or oil. This process will generally result in a very hard, but brittle material, so a secondary operation, called tempering, is employed after quenching. To temper steel, it is reheated to a lower temperature and then cooled in order to remove the stresses and brittleness created during the original quenching operation. Through hardening is useful where increased strength and toughness are required and surface wear isn’t a big concern, such as in our Crimp Drive® and split-drive anchors, setting tools for drop-in type anchors, high-strength all-thread-rod for adhesive anchors, and gas- or powder actuated fasteners. In order to effectively through harden an anchor, moderate levels of hardening elements must be present in the base steel, usually in the form of carbon. As the carbon content in the steel increases, so does the ability to harden it. The chemical composition of the steel along with the specific heat treating parameters will determine the level of hardness, strength and toughness of the final parts.

Surface hardening changes the hardness of the steel at the surface of the part by modifying the chemical composition of the steel at its surface only. This is done by altering the atmosphere in the heat treating furnace in order to get alloying elements, usually carbon, to diffuse into the surface of the steel. The increased carbon content increases the hardenability of the steel at the surface, but it can’t penetrate deeply into the steel, so a thin case forms around the surface of the steel with higher strength and hardness than the interior of the part. This creates parts that have high ductility throughout most of the interior, but that also have hard, wear-resistant surfaces. This type of heat treatment is useful in heavy-duty anchors where components of the anchors are sliding against each other during the setting process. It’s also useful in screw anchors, where the steel threads need to be very hard and wear resistant in order to cut into the concrete, but the ductility of the anchor must be maintained in order to avoid brittle failures in service. Just as with through hardening, there are many variations of surface hardening used in anchors, depending on the specific application.

Figure 3. Cross-section of surface hardened bar showing different hardness zones at the surface and in the interior.4

By using these two processes along with other heat treating processes, we are able to expand our ability to meet the higher demands placed on anchors in an industry that continues to evolve. As heat treating and steel chemistry continue to innovate, we will continue to use these developments to provide our customers with No-Equal concrete anchors that meet our high standard for performance and safety.

Mechanical Anchors

From complex infrastructure projects to do-it-yourself ventures, Simpson Strong-Tie offers a wide variety of anchoring products to meet virtually any need.


1 Lampman et al. (1997). ASM Handbook: Heat Treating. Materials Park, OH: ASM International.

2 “Microstructure of the AISI 4340 Steel.” Digital Image. Research Gate, n.d. Web. 14 June 2017 https://www.researchgate.net.

3 “Heat Treat Furnace.” Digital Image. ThomasNet Web Solutions, n.d. 14 June 2017 http://www.morganohare.com/heat-treating.html.

4 “Macrographs Showing Case Depth of Steels.” Digital Image. Science and Education Publishing Co. Ltd, n.d. 14 June 2017 http://pubs.sciepub.com.

Revisiting Spanning the Gap

Three years ago, we created this blog post based on a technical support question we often receive about allowable fastener loads for ledgers to wood framing over gypsum board. Given that this is still a frequent question and a relevant topic, we decided to revisit the post and update it.

Drywall. Wall board. Sheetrock. Sackett Board? A product called Sackett Board was invented in the 1890s, which was made by plastering within wool felt paper. United States Gypsum Corporation refined Sackett Board for several years until 1916, when they developed a new method of producing boards with a single layer of plaster and paper. This innovation was eventually branded SHEETROCK®. More details about the history of USG can be found here.

No matter what you call it, gypsum board is found in almost every type of construction. Architects use it for sound and fire ratings, while structural engineers need to account for its weight in our load calculations. A common technical support question we receive is for allowable fastener loads for ledgers to wood framing over gypsum board.

Ledger over Gypboard

Ledger over Gypboard

One method to evaluate a fastener spanning across gypsum board is to treat the gypsum material as an air gap. Technical Report 12, General Dowel Equations for Calculating Lateral Connection Values, is published by the American Wood Council.

Technical Report 12

Technical Report 12

TR12 has yield limit equations that allow a designer to account for a gap between the main member and side member of a connection. With a gap of zero (g=0), the TR12 equations provide the same results as the NDS yield limit equations.

Technical Report 12 Yield Limit Equations[1]

Technical Report 12 Yield Limit Equations

The equations are fairly complex, but it should be intuitive that the calculated fastener capacity decreases with increasing gap. Engineers are often surprised to see a 40, 50, even 60% drop in fastener capacity with one layer of 5/8” gypsum board. So what else can you do?

Testing, of course! In So, What’s Behind a Screw’s Allowable Load? I discussed the methods used to load rate a proprietary fastener such as the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Drive® SDS or SDW screws. To recap, ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria for Alternate Dowel Type Fasteners, AC233, allows you to calculate and do verification tests, or load rate based on testing alone. We develop our allowable loads primarily by testing, as the performance enhancing features and material optimizations in our fasteners are not addressed by NDS equations.

So to determine the performance of a fastener installed through gypsum board, we tested the fastener through gypsum board. This is easier to do if you happen to have a test lab with a lot of wood and fasteners in it. We did have to run down to the local hardware store to pick up gypsum board for the testing.

SDWS Over 2 Layer Gypboard

SDWS Over 2 Layer Gypboard


SDWS Over 2 Layer Gypboard Failure

A full set of allowable loads for Strong-Drive SDWH and SDWS are available on strongtie.com. The information is given as single fastener shear values for engineered design, and also screw spacing tables for common ledger configurations. As much fun as writing spreadsheets to do the Technical Report 12 calculations is, having tabulated values based on testing is much easier.

Fastening Systems

In the fastener marketplace, Simpson Strong-Tie stands apart from the rest. Quality and reliability is our top priority.

How Are DECK-DRIVE™ DWP Screws Load-Rated?

Experiential learning — has it happened to you? Certainly it has, because experiential learning is learning derived from experience. It happens in everyday life, in engineering and in product development, too. For example, experience has taught us that after a product is launched, our customers will find applications for the product that were never expected or listed in the product brief. Also, experience has shown us that larger fasteners tend to be placed in applications that have greater structural and safety demands.

When the larger Deck-Drive™ DWP screws were manufactured, we decided that they should be marketed as “load-rated” screws because they were big enough to support physically large parts and would be expected to provide structural load resistance.

So what is a “load-rated” screw? To Simpson Strong-Tie, a load-rated screw is a threaded fastener that has controlled dimensions and physical properties, as well as validated connection properties.  Load-rated fasteners are also subject to the same quality inspection that would occur if they were undergoing an evaluation report.

The products in the focus of this blog are Deck-Drive DWP Wood stainless-steel tapping screws. They are made from stainless steel (Types 305 and 316) and are particularly interesting because they have a box thread design feature. What is a box thread and what are its benefits? A box thread is a thread that is square rather than round. It is formed by rolling (not a trivial tooling challenge) like a standard thread. The box thread is preferred for some applications in part because of the low torque required to install the screw; that is, the installation demand is low relative to standard threads of the same pitch (number of threads per inch). You can easily see the box thread by looking from the point of the screw toward the head. The square corners of the box thread rotate at a defined angle, giving the threaded length a twisted appearance. The box thread is also used on the Timber-Hex SS screws. See Figure 1 for an illustration.

Figure 1. Phone photo showing box thread on a DWP screw (No.12, 4 inches long). These screws have a flat head, and this size has a T-27, six-lobe drive recess.

When we load rate a fastener, ICC-ES AC233 (Acceptance Criteria for Alternate Dowel-type Threaded Fasteners, 2015) is the guiding document. Essentially, we do everything that would be done if the product was going into an evaluation report. The testing uses representative products and is witnessed by a third party, and every test report is reviewed and stamped by a professional engineer. The DWP screws that are fully load rated are No. 12 and No. 14 that are three to six inches long. This means that we have evaluated by test the shear and tensile strengths, bending yield strength, head pull-through resistance, withdrawal resistance and certain logical lateral shear configurations of these models. The connection properties are developed in at least three species combinations of wood representing a range of specific gravities. Each cell in the connection load matrix is a reference allowable value based on a mean of at least 15 tests that is subject to a precision of five percent at a 75-percent confidence level. Table 1 is snipped from the prepublication spreadsheets.

While we were working on the No. 12 and No. 14 screws, we also realized that No. 10 DWP screws often require withdrawal loads because they are used in decks and docks to fasten the decking to the structural frame. You can see in Table 1 that the withdrawal loads were included for No. 10 DWP screws and the related properties, because uplift resistance is often engineered for those applications.

What is the test method for each property in the load table? See Table 2 for the test method used for each property and the related data for that property. The reference allowable shear loads shown in Table 1 represent more than 1,200 individual tests, and each test includes wood specific gravity, moisture content and continuous load-displacement data from start of test to past ultimate load.

Table 1. Reference allowable properties for the DWP load-rated screws.

Table 2. Test methods used to evaluate the properties of load-rated screws per ICC-ES AC233.

Load rating screws is a big job, and it creates an elevated continuous quality-monitoring obligation. However, our experience has taught us that the engineering community needs information and reference properties that can be relied on when specifying, and thus working with load-rated screws makes it possible to put your stamp on a design with confidence.

We look forward to hearing from you about load-rated fasteners, because we learn from you every time you contact us.

Design More with Our New Steel Deck Diaphragm Calculator App!

People are always innovating new things! There are always new tools, software, apps or, more recently, digital assistants to help us organize our life! Here’s something I want to share with you. Recently my family bought Google Home, and both my boys (ages 8 and 5) are constantly exploring it and testing its capabilities: “Hey, Google, play this music” or “Hey, Google, what time is it?” or “Hey, Google, repeat ‘Nathan is bad.’” While Google Home helps them with the former requests, it simply says, “I am still learning,” in response to commands like “repeat ‘Nathan is bad.’”  It’s funny to see them experiment and come up with creative ideas to use the tool. Many of us appreciate tools that help us be more organized or increase our efficiency or that are simply fun to use. Our new revised diaphragm calculator for designing metal decks is our attempt to help the engineering community get more done in less time.

So What Are the Updates and Revisions?

We have updated our design software to design per Canadian Standards like CSA136 and to design per Limit States Design. The app is so easy to use that you can design a steel deck diaphragm in minutes! The software designs steel decks for both shear and uplift forces acting on the deck and provides tables with diaphragm shear capacities for a given deck span using Simpson Strong-Tie deck fasteners that conform to Canadian codes and standards. These fasteners have an evaluation report, IAPMO UES ER-326, are recognized in SDI (Steel Deck Institute) DDM03 Appendix VII and IX and the CSSBI (Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute) Design Manual and have FM approvals.

Overview of the App

When you open our diaphragm design software, Steel Deck Diaphragm Calculator, there is an option to “Select your Country.”  You can choose to design for US standards, in which case you select the USA option, or you can select Canada Imperial or Canada Metric, which are new additions. The app has three sections: (1) Optimized Solutions, (2) Diaphragm Capacity Tables and (3) Other Diaphragm Tables. All three options are available for the USA option. The Optimized Solutions help you to design a deck for any given shear and uplift. You can refer to our previous blog, Design Examples for Steel Deck Diaphragm Calculator Web App, for some examples on how to design steel decks using the Optimized Solutions selection. Diaphragm Capacity Tables are available to the USA and both Canada selections. Other Diaphragm Tables is available only to the USA selection.

Metal Deck Diaphragm Design Using Limit States Design (LSD)

When you select Canada for the country, you will have the option to select Diaphragm Capacity Tables as shown in the screen shot below. You can generate diaphragm shear tables by entering:

  1. Steel Deck Information: In this section, you select the type of the deck, the design method, the load type you would like the tables to be generated in and the deck thickness. You can enter uplift if you would like to design the deck for combined shear and tension, or leave the net uplift as zero if you are generating shear-only tables.
  2. Quik Drive Fastener Information: In this section, you input information about the structural and side-lap fasteners.

Click the Calculate button to generate the tables.

A PDF copy of the tables can be generated in either English or French.

This easy-to-use design software can be used by the designers, specifiers or erectors to generate the tables required. More information about our X series of screws (including XL and XM), tools and the required industry approvals for designing the profiled deck diaphragms can be found on our website at strongtie.com.

Please try out the app and let us know your comments and feedback so we can continue to improve our software to better serve your needs!