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
This week’s post comes from Marlou Rodriguez who is an R&D Engineer at our home office. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, Marlou worked as a consulting engineer. His experience includes commercial, multi-family residential, curtain wall systems and the design of seismic bracing for non-structural components. Marlou is a licensed professional Civil and Structural Engineer in California, and too many other states to list. He received his bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Here is Marlou’s post.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to volunteer as a judge at The Tech Museum of Innovation’s The Tech Challenge 2015 in San Jose, Calif. My role involved evaluating projects designed by teams of students in grades 4-12 whose challenge was to build an earthquake-safe structure.
The museum’s annual Tech Challenge is a great event that excites young minds by introducing kids ages 8-18 to the science and engineering design process with a hands-on project based on solving a real-world problem. This year’s challenge was to build a scaled structure that supports live load and is earthquake safe. Simpson Strong-Tie was a sponsor of this year’s event and I was excited to be invited as a judge.
While The Tech Challenge is always focused on solving a real-world problem, no one could have anticipated how real this one would become. On the first day, April 25, I woke up to the horrifying news that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake had devastated Nepal. Thousands of lives were affected by this devastating earthquake. On that morning, this terrible tragedy thousands of miles away really highlighted how important this design challenge really is.
The Tech Challenge spans two days and is divided into three categories: elementary, middle and high school. The judging process consists of two phases. The first phase – a Pre-Performance Interview – gives students a chance to be creative in presenting their teams and designs. They discuss their roles within their team, describe how they chose their design and materials, and explain their method for solving problems and challenges. The second phase places their structures on a test rig and simulates three earthquake movements to test stability. Each structure was judged on its ability to:
- Stay standing during all three seismic events
- Return back to its original position
- Perform with the least amount of drift or the horizontal movement at the top most part of the structure.
As an engineer, I have spent 20 years designing structures to withstand earthquakes. But when I was in elementary school years ago, my thoughts were focused on which parking lot with new curbs, banks and rails or empty pools I could skateboard in. These kids are spending their weekends thinking of how to come up with a system to vertically support a high-rise building and ways to laterally support the building while dissipating the seismic energy induced by the testing rig.
It was amazing to see the ideas the children had in their designs. There were structures with fixed bases, some with innovative base isolation systems and even a few with mass dampers attached to the top of the structure. The lateral systems chosen by the children consisted of moment frames, braced frames and solid core systems – closely resembling the systems used in most buildings today.
The design rules included:
- Plan dimension of the building was limited to 16” square, while the base of the building could not exceed 20” square
- Structure height could not exceed six feet
- Floor-to-ceiling height had to be a minimum of 5 inches
- Gravity weight of the structure could not exceed 7 lbs.
In addition, there were some size and length limitations for the supporting materials, based on grade levels, and an additional live load was added to the structure by using bolts that were inserted into drilled holes. Not only did the teams have to adhere to the rules, but they also had to calculate the area of living space within their structure. All of these rules, calculations and how they overcame the challenges had to be documented in a detailed journal.
One design that stuck out to me was developed by a team of elementary school children. I had the pleasure of conducting their pre-performance interview. They had a typical rectangular building with an interior compression member made of stacked plastic PVC pipes. The lateral system comprised of some tension wires that were attached to the top of the building at the interior PVC column. The tension wires were angled as they went through the floors and finally attached to the four corners at the base. The central PVC column bear on the base but was not directly attached to the base. This was a form of base isolation. The four tension wires attached to the four corners of the building were turned toward the central PVC column and attached via a spring. The spring acted as a way for the central column to return to its original position. The design was very interesting and had some innovative features built into it. I could only imagine how it would have performed in the device performance phase of the event, since I wasn’t able to observe that part.
Earthquakes occur all over the world. These natural occurring events profoundly affect and change people’s lives. Although there are a lot of buildings that withstand earthquakes, there are still a lot of failures of existing buildings. Structural engineers learn from these failures and develop building codes and innovative products to resist future earthquakes. These future scientists, engineers and innovators that I had a pleasure of meeting are truly amazing kids. What struck me was how well these children were able to document their thought process and how they developed their final design. It makes me believe the future of this world is in great hands. I can’t wait to come back next year to judge another challenge.
Thanks for reading our blog – have a nice holiday weekend!
This week’s post comes from Scott Fischer who is an R&D Engineer at our home office. Since joining Simpson Strong-Tie in 2006, Scott has worked on cast-in-place connectors to concrete. He helped develop the current testing criteria for cast-in-place concrete products and also performed the testing and code report requirements needed for these product lines. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, Scott worked for nine years as a consulting engineer. His experience includes the design and analysis of concrete structures, including post-tensioned slab design, concrete lateral systems and foundations. Scott is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California and received his bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
How often do you get the opportunity to high five a co-worker in the office? Maybe it’s when you just worked through a really complex calculation, or finally figured out that tough detail. Whatever it might be, there are times when we should raise a hand and celebrate the hard work that we do. So when we recently relaunched the Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Rod™ Systems website, which includes a link to our new Shallow Podium Anchorage Solutions, there were a few high fives going around the office. With that in mind, we want to share the latest developments and continue our anchorage-to-concrete blog discussions that began in May 2012, continued with a March 2014 post referencing the Structure magazine article on anchor testing, and more recently one discussing our release of anchor reinforcement solutions for Steel Strong-Wall® shearwall to grade beams.
Anchor Reinforcement Testing and Research Program
Simpson Strong-Tie has been studying cast-in-place tension anchorage and anchor reinforcement concepts extensively over the past several years. Designing an anchor solution in a thin concrete slab for a high anchor demand load while meeting the ductility provisions of ACI 318-11, D.22.214.171.124 is extremely challenging. A strong industry-need for a safe, logical, yet economical design solution, led to a cooperative research program between Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) members and Simpson Strong-Tie. Testing was initiated by a Special Project Initiative grant from SEAONC to members Andy Fennell, P.E. (principal at SCL) and Gary Mochizuki, S.E. (principal at Structural Solutions at the time, now with Simpson Strong-Tie). We completed the program with continued involvement of SEAONC members. This is the second time we have partnered with SEAONC on non-proprietary anchor bolt testing. The first partnership, on sill plate anchor bolts in shear, resulted in successful code change provisions (led by SEAONC) restoring the capacity of these connections to pre-ACI 318 Appendix D values.
This current research program has focused on non-proprietary anchor reinforcement detailing that increases the nominal breakout capacity of concrete slabs. The anchor design satisfies the seismic ductility requirements of ACI 318-11 Appendix D and also significantly increases design capacity for wind applications. The project goal was to provide a design solution for the industry with independently witnessed proof testing of the anchor reinforcement detailing and application of ACI 318-11 Appendix D design procedures. (Note: Appendix D is moved into a new Chapter 17 in ACI 318-14.)
Significant Test Findings and Design Concepts
Anchoring to relatively thin concrete slabs introduces many unique challenges, so testing was bound to reveal some unique findings. The goal was to increase concrete breakout capacities and also satisfy the ACI 318 anchor ductility requirements with anchor reinforcement detailing. Here are some of the significant findings:
- Relatively thin concrete slabs do not allow the placement of anchor reinforcement to drag the load down into a larger mass of concrete as shown in RD.5.2.9. Modified anchor reinforcement was required (Figure 2). The required area of anchor reinforcement is based on D.126.96.36.199(a) where the required area of anchor reinforcement exceeds the anchor steel strength, or 1.2Nsa < (nAsfy x 0.707). The 0.707 is for the 45 degree slope of the bars. The proof testing showed the horizontal leg development outside the cone and continuity through the cone adequately developed the anchor reinforcement.
- ACI 318-11, D.4.2.1 states that when anchor reinforcement is provided, calculation of concrete breakout strength is not required. You know we love load path discussions, so where does the load go once it gets into the anchor reinforcement? The tests indicated that when the anchor reinforcement is provided, the concrete breakout area increases. This limit state is an extended breakout area past the anchor reinforcement bends that will form when that reinforcement is properly quantified and configured. The extended breakout is similar to multiple anchors loading the slab at each bottom bend of the anchor reinforcement. We have applied this concept to the calculations to evaluate extended breakout past the anchor reinforcement bends.
- Let’s follow the load path some more. Once the anchor is connected to the slab, what is the slab bending capacity? The testing showed that to achieve the anchorage capacity, the slab must have an adequate amount of flexural reinforcement with anchorage forces corresponding to ACI 318-11, Section D.188.8.131.52 applied to the slab. Guidance from this section says to apply the anchor tension loads obtained from either design load combinations that include E, with E increased by Omega, or 1.2 x Nominal steel strength of the anchor (Nsa). If the anchors are not oversized, designing for 1.2Nsa should be the most economical solution. For wind applications, the slab Designer should consider the project specified design loads.
- A vertical concrete block shear forming at the anchor bearing plate is possible if the anchor embedment is shallow and the anchor reinforcement is working to resist the initial anchor bolt breakout area. Our testing showed that this block shear is separate from Appendix D Pullout and is dependent on embedment depth, perimeter of the bearing surface and concrete strength.
- For anchors with shallow embedment that have a double nut and washer, the concrete breakout can begin from the top nut, thereby reducing the effective embedment depth. To address this, we eliminated the top nut from our specified anchor assembly kit to insure the breakout begins from the top of the fixed-in-place plate washer.
- The testing and modeling also allowed us to re-examine the appropriate bearing area for the plate washer, Abrg. The flat top surface of a nut is typically circular due to the chamfer at the points, so the resulting bearing area of the plate washer is circular extending out the thickness of the plate from the flat-to-flat dimension of the nut. For near-edge conditions, the side-face blowout capacity can be the controlling limit state and where the plate washer bearing area becomes more important.
- Edge testing with anchor reinforcement details showed that the breakout area will spread out and begin from the anchor reinforcement bends, like the mid-slab. In a mid-slab condition, the breakout slope follows the 1.5:1 or 35 degree slope used in Appendix D. However for the near edge, we found that 1.5 x effective embedment (hef) from anchor reinforcement bends only holds true parallel to the edge. Due to eccentricities, the breakout angle from the anchor reinforcement bends into the slab (perpendicular to the edge) is steeper and a steeper 45 degree slope should be used.
- The testing showed that even though we had cracks intersecting the anchor as it was loaded, the capacities exceeded uncracked assumptions. This is likely due to the flexural reinforcement running through the breakout cone providing continuity across the cracks. We’re still studying the effect of the flexural reinforcement, so for now we recommend assuming cracked concrete and providing a minimum of 4 – #5 flexural bars each way at anchor locations that require anchor reinforcement. Your slab design may require more flexural bars or they may already be there to meet other slab design requirements.
What Solutions Are Now Being Offered and How Do I Get Them?
With our newly launched Strong-Rod Systems webpages, you now go to the Shallow Podium Anchor link to find anchorage solutions. On the website, you will find anchor reinforcement detail drawings and design load tables with slab design recommendations. We’ll also be adding sample calculations, a guideline for selecting your anchor solutions, 3-D anchor reinforcement graphics and guidelines for addressing your condition if your installation is outside the scope of the current solutions that we offer. The anchor reinforcement is non-proprietary and is fabricated by the rebar supplier, but the configuration and placement is described in the details. In addition, you will see detailed information about the Simpson Strong-Tie Shallow Anchor Rod and Anchor Bolt Locator that is specified as a kit in the load tables. Note the absence of the top nut for reasons described above.
How Do We Specify It and Use It?
So now you know what is on the website but how do you put all these pieces together and apply them to a specific design? As a design professional, you will drive the bus on applying these details and design tables onto your drawings. Similar to specifying Strong-Wall® shearwalls or Strong Frame® moment frames, it just takes a little upfront coordination on your drawings. Typically, you’ll start with a slab key plan that shows the anchor bolt locations. You will need to know the design uplift forces from the light-frame structure above the slab and some basic project variables like specified concrete strength, slab thickness(es) and whether the structure is in high seismic or wind-controlled areas. Now you can choose the necessary design tables from the website by clicking on the individual design tables tab. Your key variables will help you select your specific table based on slab thickness, concrete strength, near edge, etc., and of course wind or seismic.
Once you have selected your design table, just match your project demand loads or your project-specified anchor bolt with the tabulated ASD or LRFD capacity to select the appropriate shallow anchor callout and reference detail that you can identify on the key plan. The detail callout from the table will send you to sheet SA1 where you will find the anchor reinforcement details and Shallow Anchor Kit recommended for your condition. As mentioned previously, the anchor reinforcement would be fabricated and bent by the rebar guys, but would follow these details. You can download the details shown on sheet SA1, place them on your construction documents and then coordinate them with your plans or schedules similar to how you might provide a shear wall schedule. The footnotes that accompany the tables provide important slab design information and other design and installation recommendations. You’ll soon be able to download the sample design calculations, use them as a tool to help follow the design procedure of the recommended details and submit with your project.
What if My Situation Does Not Fit the Details on the Website?
Though a great number of installations will be covered by these details and tables, there will be conditions that currently cannot be addressed with anchor reinforcement solutions. Installs that may be outside of the current scope could include: a demand uplift that’s too large, a slab that’s too thin, lower concrete strength, corner installs, double wood frame shear walls or two close anchors in tension. To address these conditions, we suggest alternatives like slight adjustment or reconfiguration of the shear walls, thickening slab edges, adding downturn concrete beams or extending the anchorage from above down into a cast-in-place wall or further extended down into the footing at ground level.
The joint SEAONC-Simpson Strong-Tie testing project has shown that anchor reinforcement details can greatly increase the breakout strength of concrete to support cast-in-place anchor bolts in concrete slabs. The testing also showed that the design provisions in ACI 318-11 Appendix D can be rationally applied to these anchor reinforcement details. The testing and Appendix D calculation approach are the basis of the details, load tables, graphics and application guides that can be found on our new Strong-Rod Systems webpages. We’re updating these pages as we create more content, so check back frequently. We look forward to working with you on your anchorage installation challenges and hope that some of these solutions will help you with projects you are working on today. How about a high five?
What do you think about these new anchorage solutions? Let us know by posting a comment below.
This week’s blog post was written by Neelima Tapata, R&D Engineer for Fastening Systems. She works in the development, testing and code approval of fasteners. She joined Simpson Strong-Tie in 2011, bringing 10 years of design experience in multi- and single-family residential structures in cold-formed steel and wood, curtain wall framing design, steel structures and concrete design. Neelima earned her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from J.N.T.U in India and M.S. in Civil Engineering with a focus on Structural Engineering from Lamar University. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.
Like most engineers, you are probably often working against tight deadlines, on multiple projects and within short delivery times. If you have ever wished for a design tool that would make your work easier, we have an app for that. It’s a simple, quick and easy-to-use tool called the “Steel Deck Diaphragm Calculator” for designing steel deck diaphragms. This tool is so user friendly you can start using it in minutes without spending hours in training. This app can be found on our website, and you don’t need to install anything.
The Steel Deck Diaphragm Calculator has two parts to it: “Optimized Solutions” and “Diaphragm Capacity Tables.” Optimized Solutions is a Designer’s tool and it offers optimized design solutions based on cost and labor for a given shear and uplift. The app provides multiple solutions starting with the lowest cost option using different Simpson Strong-Tie® structural and side-lap fasteners. Calculations can be generated for any of the solutions and a submittal package can be created with the code reports, Factory Mutual Approval reports, fastener information, corrosion information, available fliers, and SDI DDM03 Appendix VII and Appendix IX that includes Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners. Currently, this tool can be used for designing with only Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners. We will be including weld options in this calculator very soon. Stay tuned!
The Diaphragm Capacity Tables calculator can be used to develop a table of diaphragm capacities based on the effects of combined shear and tension.
When “Optimized Solutions” is selected, the following input is requested:
Step 1: Building Information ̶ Enter general information about the project, like the project name, the length and width of the building to be designed along with spacing between the support members such as joist spacing, is entered.
Step 2: Steel Deck Information ̶ Select the type of the steel deck along with the fill type. You can select the panel width from the options or select “Any panel width” option for the program to design the panel width. Choose the deck thickness or select the “Optimize” option for the program to design the optimum deck thickness. You also have an option of editing the steel deck properties to accommodate proprietary decks that are within the limitations of SDI DDM03 Section 1.2. Select the joist steel (support) thickness that the deck material will be attached to. For some fasteners, the shear strength of the fastener is dependent on this support thickness.
Step 3: Load Information ̶ Enter the shear and uplift demand and select the load type as either “wind” or “seismic” and the design method as “ASD” or “LRFD.”
Step 4: Fastener Information ̶ This is the last step of input before designing. In the fastener information section, you have the option to choose a structural and side-lap fastener or let the program design the most cost-effective structural and side-lap options. This can be done by checking the “Provide optimized solutions” option. The default options in the program are usually the best choice. However, you can change or modify as needed for your project. You can also set the side-lap fastener range or leave it to the default of 0 to 12 fasteners.
Now let’s work on an example:
Design a roof deck for a length of L = 500 ft. and a width b = 300 ft. The roof deck is a WR (wide rib) type panel, with a panel width of 36″. The roof deck is supported by joists that are ¼” thick and spaced at 5 ft. on center. Design the diaphragm for wind loading using Allowable Stress Design method. The diaphragm should be designed for a diaphragm shear of 1200 plf. and a net uplift of 30 psf. The steel deck is ASTM A653 SS Grade 33 deck with Fu = 45 ksi.
This information is entered in the web app, as seen below.
After inputting all the information, click on the Calculate button. You will see the five best solutions sorted by lowest cost and least amount of labor. Then click on the Submittal Generator button. Upon pressing this button, a new column called “Solution” is added with an option button for each solution. You can select any of the solutions. Below the Submittal Generator button, you can select various Code Reports and Approvals and Notes and Information selections that you want included in the submittal. After selecting these items, click on the Generate Submittal button. Now a pdf package will be generated with all of your selections.
Below is the screen shot of the first page containing Table of Contents from the PDF copy generated. The PDF copy contains the solutions generated by the program, then the detailed calculations for the solution that is selected. In this case, as you can see in the screen shot above, detailed calculations for solution #1 are included with XLQ114T1224 structural screws; XU34S1016 side-lap screws; 36/9 structural pattern and with (10) side-lap fasteners; diaphragm shear strength of 1205 plf. and diaphragm shear stiffness of 91.786 kip/in. The detailed calculations are followed by IAPMO UES ER-326 code report and FM Approval report #3050714.
Below is another example of a roof deck to be designed for multiple zones.
Design a roof diaphragm that will be zoned into three different areas. Zoning is a good way to optimize the economy of the roof diaphragm. Below are the required diaphragm shears and uplift in the three zones.
Zone 1: Diaphragm shear = 1200 plf.; Net uplift = 30 psf.; Length and width of zone 1 = 300 ft. x 200 ft.
Joist spacing = 5 ft.
Zone 2: Diaphragm shear = 1400 plf.; Net uplift = 0 psf.; Length and width of zone 2 = 500 ft. x 200 ft.
Joist spacing = 5.5 ft.
Zone 3: Diaphragm shear = 1000 plf.; Net uplift = 25 psf.; Length and width of zone 3 = 300 ft. x 200 ft.
Joist spacing = 4.75 ft.
Refer to the example above for all other information not given.
To design for multiple zones first select the Multi-Zone Input button, which is below the Fastener Information section as shown below:
When you click on the Multi-Zone Input button, you can see a toggle button appearing above a few selections as shown below. The default for the toggle button is , which means that this selection is same for all the zones. You can click on the toggle button to change to . Then the selection below changes to a label and reads Zone Variable. After all the selections that need to be zone variables are selected, click the Add Zone button. Keep adding zones as needed. A maximum of five zones can be added. After creating the zones, add the information for each zone and click the Calculate button.
When the Calculate button is clicked, the results for each zone are listed. The five best solutions are listed for each of the zones as shown below.
Similar to previous example, select the Generate Submittal button to select the solutions to be included in the submittal generator. Select one solution for each zone and then check the items like the code reports or notes to be included in the submittal. Click Generate Submittal to create the submittal package.
See the screen shot below for the steps.
Now that you know how easy it is to design using our web app, use this app for your future projects. We welcome your feedback on features you find useful as well as your input on how we could make this program more useful to suit your needs. Let us know in the comments below.
Truss repair is one of the most frequently asked about truss topics. Not surprisingly, when we asked for suggested truss topics in a truss blog earlier this year, truss repair made the list. Because the summer months bring about a peak in new construction – and plenty of truss repairs to go along with it – the beginning of June is the perfect time to visit this topic.
From trusses that get dropped or cut/drilled/notched at the jobsite, to homeowners who want to modify their existing trusses to add a skylight or create attic space to fire-damaged trusses, a multitude of scenarios fall under the broad topic of truss repair. Today’s post focuses on various references and resources that can provide some assistance. But first it helps to break down the broad “truss repair” topic into more manageable-sized categories.
New Construction vs. Recent Construction vs. Old Construction
By far, the easiest type of truss repair is new construction, when the trusses either haven’t been installed yet or are still in the process of being installed. Whether the repair is relatively simple (e.g. a broken web) or a little more complicated (e.g. the trusses need to be stubbed), the beauty of new truss construction is that the truss manufacturer – and truss Designer – can be contacted and help with the repair. The truss Designer can easily open up the truss designs in the truss design software, quickly evaluate the trusses for the appropriate field conditions and issue a repair.
A good reference related to truss repairs for new truss construction is the Building Component Safety Information (BCSI) booklet jointly produced by SBCA and TPI. Section B5 of the BCSI booklet, which is also available as a stand-alone summary sheet, covers Truss Damage, Jobsite Modifications & Installation Errors. This field-guide document describes the steps to take when a truss at the jobsite is damaged, altered or improperly installed, common repair techniques, and the information to provide to the truss manufacturer when a truss is damaged, which will assist in the repair process.
The next easiest truss type to repair is recent construction, where the trusses were constructed recently enough that: a) the truss plates are easy to identify, and b) the truss design drawings may even still be available. In these cases, design professionals other than the original truss Designer may be contacted to repair the trusses. For some types of repairs, the design professional can work off the truss design drawing to design the repair. Other times it might be necessary to model and analyze the truss using structural design software; alternatively, a truss manufacturer can be contacted to model the truss in their truss design software for a fee.
Often, the design professional wants to know the design values for the truss plates that were used to construct the truss. If there are truss design drawings available, they will indicate which truss plates were used in the design, and then the truss plate manufacturer can be contacted for more information. It is also easy to search for the truss plate code reports online (for instance, check icc-es.org). If no truss design drawing is available, there is still a way to identify the truss plates. Currently, there are only five major truss plate manufacturers in the United States, and they are listed on the Truss Plate Institute website. That makes identification of the truss plates used in recently constructed trusses easier because all of the current manufacturers’ plates will have markings that are described in their code reports. (Note that there are also a couple of truss manufacturers in the U.S. that manufacture their own truss plates.)
Finally, the most challenging type of trusses for truss repairs are those found in older buildings. Design professionals involved in these types of repair often aren’t sure where to start. Truss design drawings are often not available, and the act of trying to identify the truss plate manufacturer is challenging at best, unsuccessful at worst. As a point of reference, there were 14 truss plate manufacturers that were TPI members in 1987 (see image below), and only one of those companies is still in the current list of five companies. Therefore, the truss plates found in a truss built around 1987 will be difficult to identify. One option is to contact TPI and see if they can point you in the right direction.
Simple vs. Complex Repairs
Another way to break down truss repairs is to divide them into easy and challenging repairs. People often ask for “standard” truss repair details. Unfortunately, standard details only address the simplest types of repair; and those usually aren’t the types of repair that are asked about. Details simply cannot cover the wide range of truss configurations and every type of repair situation.
With the exception of simple repairs, most truss repairs rely heavily on the judgment and experience of the design professional doing the repair. And because there are not entire textbooks devoted to truss repair (that I am aware of, anyway), Designers must pull from a variety of resources, both to learn more about truss repair and to design the repair. For repairs using plywood or OSB gussets, the APA Panel Design Specification is a must-have reference. Some people prefer to use dimension lumber scabs for their repairs, whenever possible, simply because they are more familiar with dimension lumber (and the NDS) than they are with Plywood/OSB or the APA Panel Design Specification.
Next, the fasteners for the repair must be selected and the allowable loads determined. For nail design values, I am a big fan of the American Wood Council’s Connection Calculator, which provides allowable nail shear values for just about any combination of main and side members that you can think of, including OSB and plywood side members – particularly handy for truss repairs. For more complex repairs, and especially repairs involving higher forces, an excellent fastener choice is a structural wood screw such as our Strong-Drive® SDS or SDW screws. When I worked in the R&D department at Simpson Strong-Tie, a frequently asked question was whether we had double-shear values for our SDS screws. The questions always seemed to come from Designers who wanted them for truss repairs. Fortunately, we do have double-shear values for our SDS screws.. You can find them on page 319 of our Fastening catalog.
The Strong-Drive SDW screw was developed after the SDS screw, and while there are currently no double-shear values for the SDW, it is still another good option for repairs.
Fire-Damaged Trusses and Truss Collapses
These situations are in a category by themselves because they go beyond even the most complex repairs involving a major modification to the truss. The biggest difference is that the latter case involves mostly known facts and perhaps some conservative assumptions, whereas damage due to fire or collapse includes many unknowns. Most of the truss Designers I have spoken to about truss damage due to fire or truss collapse often recommend replacement of the trusses rather than repair because it is usually too difficult to quantify the damage to the lumber and/or joints. In fires, there can be “hidden” damage due to the sustained high temperatures, while the truss appears to have no visible damage. Likewise, in a truss collapse, not only may there be too many breaks in the trusses involved in the collapse, but there may also be trusses that suffered severe stresses during the collapse and have damage that is not visible. To attempt a repair in either of these cases often requires an inspection at the jobsite, and the result may still end up being replacement of some or all of the trusses. Therefore, the cost of a full-blown inspection should be weighed against the cost of replacing the trusses.
The Structural Building Components Association website has a page with information pertaining to fire issues. It includes a couple of documents related to fire damage that are worth checking out.
Beyond the Blog: Where to Get More Truss Repair Information
The best bet for getting practical design information related to truss repairs is to keep an eye out for short courses, workshops or seminars. ASCE has hosted a Truss Repair Seminar (Evaluating Damage and Repairing Metal Plate Connected Wood Trusses) in the past and may very well offer something like it again. Virginia Tech recently hosted a short course on Advanced Design Topics in Wood Construction Engineering, which included a section on Wood Truss Repair Design Techniques.
What other references or resources for truss repair do you use? Are there any upcoming truss repair courses that you know of? Please let us know in the comments below!
This week was our new employee Sales and Product Orientation class. It reminded me of the post A Little Fun with Testing where we broke a bowling ball. Although breaking stuff is fun, my second favorite part of the class is teaching about the importance of a continuous load path. I think it is really the most important thing a Structural Engineer does. If we don’t pay attention to the loads, where they occur and create a path so they can get where they need to go, a building may not stand up. This week, we also released some new tools and information for our new Strong-Rod™ Systems, which are used to complete the load path for multi-story wood-framed shearwall overturning restraint and roof uplift restraint.
Two Load Paths
All wood-framed buildings need to be designed to resist shearwall overturning and roof-uplift forces. To transfer these tensile forces through the load path, connectors (hurricane ties, straps and holdowns) have been the traditional answer. Simpson Strong-Tie offers a few options there. With the growth in multi-story wood-framed structures, where the code requires shrinkage to be addressed and overturning and uplift forces are typically higher, rod systems have become an increasingly popular load restraint solution. Our Anchor Tiedown System (ATS) for shearwall overturning restraint has been around for many years. A new Strong-Rod Systems Design Guide and revamped web pages provide information on new design options, components and configurations.
The guide and website focus more on the unique design considerations for rod systems, how you should specify the system and highlight the design services that we provide. They also provide more detail and design information for our relatively new Uplift Restraint System (URS) for roofs. Connectors are a common choice for transferring the net roof uplift forces from wind events down the structure. Although in some high-wind areas, rod systems are preferred.
I’ll touch on some of the design considerations for these types of systems below, but back to the load path. For shearwall overturning restraint using holdowns, the load path is fairly simple. Once the lateral load is in the shearwall, the sheathing and nailing lifts up on the post. The holdown connects to the post, holding it down and transferring the forces to the foundation or level below. A continuous rod tiedown system follows a little different path. The sheathing and nailing lifts up on the boundary posts and the posts push up on the framing above until the load is resisted in bearing by a bearing plate. The load is then transferred into the rod and down to the foundation. There has been a lot of testing and research on the effects of skipping restraint locations where a bearing plate restraint is installed at every other floor or only at the top level. Doing that will change the load path because the load has to continue to travel up until a restraint holds it down. It also negatively impacts the stiffness and drift of the shearwall stack, not to mention increases project cost because the boundary posts, rod and bearing must be sized to transfer the cumulative overturning forces from each level.
Wood Shrinkage, Take-up Devices and Displacement Limits
Shrinkage is not just a Seinfeld episode cult classic. It is also something that designers need to consider when designing wood structures. IBC Section 2304.3.3 requires that designers evaluate the impact of wood shrinkage on the building structure when bearing walls support more than two floors and a roof. The effects of wood shrinkage can impact many things in the structure from finishes to MEP systems to the continuous rod system. As the wood members lose moisture, the wood shrinks and the building settles. This can cause gaps at the bearing plate locations of continuous rod systems because the continuous steel rod doesn’t shrink. That is where the magic of take-up devices comes in. They allow the building to shrink but keep gaps from forming by filling the gap (expanding devices – can be screw style or ratcheting), ratcheting down the rod (ratcheting devices), or making the rod shrink as much as the wood (contracting coupling device).
In addition to keeping the rod system tight to insure the intended performance, it is important to consider the movement associated with the rod system when under wind or earthquake loading. The IBC requires shearwall displacements to be within story drift limits in moderate to high seismic regions. We highlighted some of the changes coming for the evaluation of shearwall deflection in the previous post discussing the New Treatment of Shear Wall Aspect Ratios in the 2015 SDPWS. For continuous rod systems, there are some additional limits. ICC-ES AC316 Acceptance Criteria for Shrinkage Compensating Devices requires designs to limit displacement between restraints to 0.20 inches (including rod elongation and device displacement) for shearwall restraint. The movement of the take-up device plays a big part in meeting this requirement and the rod diameter required. Screw-style devices have the lowest total movement. Ratcheting devices are appropriate in many cases as well such as the upper levels where loads are lower, but may require larger rod diameters to meet the displacement limit.
ICC-ES AC391 Acceptance Criteria for Continuous Rod Tie-down Runs and Continuous Rod Tie-down Systems Used to Resist Wind Uplift covers continuous rod systems for roof uplift restraint. The displacement limit for the Continuous Rod Tie-down Run (just the rod system components) is limited to 0.18 inches of rod elongation for the total length of rod. The Strong-Rod URS evaluates the Continuous Rod Tie-down System (the whole load path). Displacement limits for the system are L/240 for the top plate bending and 0.25 inches total deflection at the top plate between tie-down runs (including top plate bending, rod elongation, wood bearing deformation and take-up device displacement). The differences between the rod run and rod system analysis as well as other design considerations are explained in more detail in the design guide and on our website.
I always end my continuous load path presentation during orientation class with the same questions and if they were paying attention I get the response I want.
“What is the most important thing a Structural Engineer does?”
“Designs a continuous load path for the building!”
“What does Simpson Strong-Tie do?”
“Provides product and system solutions to help engineers do their job!”
Take a look at the new Strong-Rod Systems tools and information and let us know how we can help you with your next multi-story wood-framed project.
What related blog topics would you like to discuss? Let us know in the comments below.
A common question we get from specifiers is “What anchor do I use with each holdown?” Prior to the adoption of ACI 318 Appendix D, this was somewhat simple to do. We had a very small table near the holdown section of our catalog that listed which SSTB anchor worked with each holdown.
During the good old days, anchor bolts had one capacity and concrete wasn’t cracked. ACI 318 Appendix D gives us reduced capacities in many situations, different design loads for seismic or wind and reductions for cracked concrete. These changes have combined to make anchor bolt design more challenging than it was under the 1997 Uniform Building Code.
This blog has had several posts related to holdowns. So, What’s Behind a Structural Connector’s Allowable Load? (Holdown Edition) explained how holdowns are tested and load rated in accordance with ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria. Damon Ho did a post, Use of Holdowns During Shearwall Assembly, which discussed the performance differences of shearwalls with and without holdowns, and Shane Vilasineekul did a Wood Shearwall Design Example. So I won’t get in to how to pick a holdown.
Once you have determined your uplift requirements and selected a post size and holdown, it is necessary to provide an anchor to the foundation. To help Designers select an anchor that works for a given holdown, we have created different tables that provide anchorage solutions for Simpson Strong-Tie holdowns.
There is one Engineering letter that addresses slab-on-grade foundations and another version that covers stemwall foundations. The tables are separated by wood species (DF/SP and SPF/HF) to give the most economical anchor design for each post material. The preferred anchor solutions are SSTB or SB anchors, as these proprietary anchor bolts are tested and will require the least amount of concrete. When SSTB or SB anchors do not have adequate capacity, we have tabulated solutions for the PAB anchors, which are pre-assembled anchors that are calculated in accordance with ACI 318 Appendix D.
The solutions in the letters are designed to match the capacity of the holdowns, which allows the contractor to select an anchor bolt if the engineer doesn’t specify one. They are primarily used by engineers who don’t want to design an anchor or select one from our catalog tables. We received some feedback from customers who were frustrated that some of our heavier holdowns required such a large footing for the PAB anchors, whereas a slightly smaller holdown worked with an SB or SSTB anchor in a standard 12″ footing with a 1½” pop out.
To achieve smaller footings using our SB1x30 anchor bolts, we reviewed our original testing and created finite element (FEA) models to determine what modifications to the slab-on-grade foundation details would meet our target loads. Of course, we ran physical tests to confirm the FEA models. With a 6″ pop out, we were able to achieve design loads for HD12, HDU14 and HHDQ14.
The revised footing solutions for the heavier holdowns require less excavation and less concrete than the previous Appendix D calculated solutions, reducing costs on the installation.
What has been your experience with holdown anchorage? Tell us in the comments below.
This week’s post is written by Kevin Davenport, who works as a Field Engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie. Kevin is responsible for providing technical support on Simpson Strong-Tie products for Infrastructure, Commercial and Industrial market segments within his Southeastern territory. He is a registered professional engineer in Georgia and received his B.S. (’97) and M.S. (’98) from Clemson University. Kevin is a member of ICRI, ACI and various local chapters of SEA.
What do you do when brickwork is in bad condition? Depending on what state the brickwork is in, a tear-down may be called for. However, often brickwork can be restored and strengthened using helical ties such as Simpson Strong-Tie® Heli-Tie™ wall ties and stitching ties. This post introduces these two types of helical ties, which might be just what you need for your next brick restoration project.
What is a helical tie?
A helical tie is made by twisting a metal profile into the shape of a helix. The design of the Simpson Strong-Tie Heli-Tie wall tie also incorporates a large core diameter in order to provide higher torsional capacity. The benefit of this feature is less axial deflection due to a propensity for normal helix shape to “uncoil” under tension load. Since helical ties are typically used in building façades, they are generally made from stainless steel in order provide the necessary corrosion resistance. Helical ties can be used to retrofit and stabilize brickwork in two common applications: 1) Wall anchor applications, and 2) Stitching tie applications.
What are common helical wall tie applications?
Application #1: Anchoring building façades to structural members
In a wall anchor application, the helical tie is used to stabilize the façade by transferring out of plane façade forces through the anchor into the backup material. The need for this type of reinforcement arises when pre-existing wall anchors were never installed, were inadequately spaced or have corroded away over time. Helical ties are an economical solution that can be installed directly through a brick façade into various backup materials such as solid concrete, CMU block, and even wood or metal studs.
A pilot hole is drilled through the existing brick wall and any air gap into the backup material. Then the helical tie is placed in an installation tool and driven into the pre-drilled hole. As it is driven, the fins of the helical tie tap into both the masonry and backup material and provide an expansion-free connection that will withstand tension and compression loads. Some helical wall ties, like the Heli-Tie, use an installation tool that countersinks the tie below the surface of the brickwork. This allows the hole to be patched and concealed with a color matching material. Thereby, helical anchors allow the repair to be both efficient and inconspicuous when completed.
There are presently no specific U.S. design standards for the use and qualification of helical wall ties. However, a rational calculation of required spacing given the demand load can be easily calculated using ACI 530 (Building Code Requirement and Specifications for Masonry Structures), Section 6.2, and test data with an appropriate factor of safety. In addition, many Designers also follow the detailing practice for prescriptive anchored veneer in Section 184.108.40.206.6 that prescribes the following:
- At least one anchor for each 3.5 ft2 of wall area, and
- A maximum anchor spacing of 32″ horizontal and 25″ vertical, and
- Around openings larger than 16″ in either dimension: Additional perimeter anchors at maximum 36″ spacing within 12″ of the opening.
Prescriptive anchors also require bed joints to be at least twice the thickness of the embedded anchor. However, this provision is not relevant for helical anchors since they are installed into a drilled hole, rather than embedded into a wet mortar joint.
Application #2: Stabilizing multiple-wythe brick walls
In this application, the wall tie is used to attach wythes of brick to one another in an effort to stabilize the wall. By intermittently alternating installation angles (0 o, 45 o, 0o, -45 o, etc.) the tie promotes more monolithic behavior of the wall.
What are common helical stitching tie applications?
Unlike wall anchor applications, in a stitching tie application the helical tie is used to stabilize brickwork by transferring in- and out-of-plane shear and bending forces across an existing crack. Stitching ties are placed in the plane of the wall within the horizontal bed joint.
The existing bed joint is routed out deep enough to recess the helical tie and cleaned out. Then, the recess is filled about 2/3 deep with a repair mortar (such as Simpson Strong-Tie® FX-263 Rapid Hardening Vertical/Overhead Repair Mortar). The helical stitching tie is then pressed into the mortar, followed by a trowelling with encapsulating grout. The installation provides an inconspicuous repair and preserves the appearance of the structure.
For red brick, we recommend placing stitching ties at a minimum vertical spacing of 12″ and extending the ties at least 20″ on either side of the crack.
Helical ties are not something that you see on every jobsite, however, they can provide a fast and cost-effective solution for brickwork rehabilitation. Hopefully this post provided you some background about them and an insight into our Heli-Tie product offering. The recent launch of our Repair Protection Strengthening Systems product line complements the Heli-Tie with a wide array of other repair products.
Do you have any past experience with helical wall ties, or questions? Please share in the comments below.
There certainly seems to be increased awareness of the potential for damage and injury from tornadoes these days. Recent information published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) help explain that. This increased awareness has led to a growing interest in tornado shelters for protection of life and property.
This FEMA graphic shows that most areas of the United States have been affected by a tornado at some point since 1996, and many have been affected by one or more strong tornadoes (EF3 or greater).
Living in North Texas near the Simpson Strong-Tie manufacturing plant in McKinney, Texas, I know all too well the sinking feeling of hearing the tornado sirens and turning on the TV to find you are under a tornado watch. FLASH recently published a graphic developed by the National Weather Service that shows the large number of U.S. counties that have been under a tornado watch between 2003-2014, and the high number of warnings that some counties experienced.
Other than moving to an area that has fewer tornadoes, one of the best ways to protect your family and at least have more peace of mind during tornado season is to have a tornado shelter or safe room. These structures are designed and tested to resist the highest winds that meteorologists and engineers believe occur at ground level during a tornado and the debris that is contained in tornado winds.
Tornado shelters can be either pre-fabricated and installed by a specialty shelter manufacturer, or can be site-built from a designed plan or pre-engineered plan. A good source for information on pre-fabricated shelters is the National Storm Shelter Association, a self-policing organization that has strict requirements for the design, testing and installation of its members’ shelters.
FEMA publishes a document, P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm, that provides good information on safe rooms in general, as well as several pre-engineered plans for tornado safe rooms.
To highlight the different types of safe rooms covered by FEMA P-320, FEMA, FLASH and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) sponsored an exhibit at January’s International Builder’s Show. The exhibit was called the “Home Safe Home Tornado Saferoom Showcase.” It featured six different types of saferooms that builders could incorporate into the homes they build. Simpson Strong-Tie and the American Wood Council collaborated to build a wood frame with steel sheathing safe room meeting the FEMA P-320 plans. Other safe rooms shown at the exhibit included pre-cast concrete and pre-manufactured steel shelters manufactured by NSSA members, and reinforced CMU, ICF cast-in-place concrete and aluminum formed cast-in-place concrete built to FEMA P-320 plans.
Simpson Strong-Tie staff in McKinney, Texas, constructed the wood frame/steel sheathing safe room in panels and shipped it to the show. It was built from locally sourced lumber, readily available fasteners and connectors and sheets of 16 ga. steel (which we happen to keep here at the factory). It had cut-away sheathing at the corners to show the three layers of sheathing needed. Our message to builders was that this type of shelter would be the easiest for their framers to build on their sites.
The sponsors of the exhibit took advantage of the variety of safe rooms in one place to film a video series, “Which Tornado Safe Room is Right for You?” The videos are posted at the FLASH StrongHomes channel on YouTube. The series provides comparative information on cast-in-place, concrete block masonry, insulated concrete forms, precast concrete and wood-frame safe rooms, with the goal of helping consumers to better understand their tornado safe room options.
“Today’s marketplace offers an unprecedented range of high-performing, affordable options to save lives and preserve peace of mind for the millions of families in the path of severe weather,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “These videos will help families understand their options for a properly built safe room that will deliver life safety when it counts.”
FLASH released the videos earlier this month as part America’s PrepareAthon!, a grassroots campaign to increase community emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises. The overall goal of the program is to get individuals to understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage from those disasters, take action to increase their preparedness, and go one step farther by participating in resilience planning for their community. Currently, the program focuses on preparing for the disasters of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and winter storms.
Do you know what the risk of disasters is in your community? If you are subject to tornado risk, would you like to build your own safe room, have one built to pre-engineered plans or buy one from a reputable manufacturer? Let us know in the comments below.
This week’s post is a case study featuring a recent restoration job on the central coast of California and how Simpson Strong-Tie® hot-dipped galvanized screws proved to be a better option than traditional spikes.
A pier originally constructed in the 1800s was closed a few years ago as general deterioration caused the structure to become unsafe. As preparation for rebuilding the pier began, one of the major concerns was the attachment of the deck boards to the framing.
Traditionally, the deck boards have been attached with hot-dip galvanized 60d (0.283″ x 6″) spikes. However, spikes have a low withdrawal resistance, are typically predrilled and have a multi-step installation process. In addition, spikes, over time, can begin to back out so that the heads protrude above the top of the deck boards. This creates an unsafe condition for pedestrians and also results in ongoing maintenance work. Here you can see one of the old spikes.
Simpson Strong-Tie provided two options for replacing these spikes: the Strong-Drive® Timber-Hex HDG screw, SDWH27800G, and its stainless-steel counterpart, the Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screw, SDWH27800SS. The SDWH27800G screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and has a hot-dip galvanized coating, conforming to ASTM A153 Class-C. The SDWH27800SS screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and is made from Type 316 stainless steel. Both of these screws have integral washer, hex-drive heads and are self-drilling. They are not intended to be self-countersinking though, and as a result, installation with the heads below the deck surface requires a shallow dapped hole.
A comparison of the load values was provided to Shoreline Engineering, Inc. engineers Bruce S. Elster, P.E., and Jonathan T. Boynton, P.E., for their review and approval. In addition, Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems/Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite expertly conducted on-site demonstrations for numerous decision makers including the contractor and city officials. These demonstrations allowed the contractor and owners to compare the labor costs and finished appearance of the different fastening methods.
Below is a comparison of the allowable load values* of the potential fasteners. We can see how each of the Simpson Strong-Tie screw options exceeds the spike load values in all load conditions.
*Not to be used for design purposes as footnotes have been left out of this blog post. Table values include wet service factor adjustments.
In the end, the SDWH27800SS stainless-steel screw was specified for the project.
Some might consider a 316 stainless steel screw to be cost prohibitive, but when you factor in the lower cost of installation, the lower maintenance requirements and the actual cost of the fastener, this screw turned out to be the lowest cost alternate. In addition, it provided better withdrawal and lateral load values than the spikes.
The Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screws made it possible to complete the deck restoration on time and on budget. Perhaps just as importantly, the pier looks beautiful and should last for many years to come.
Let us know if the comments below if you have any questions about specifying these fasteners for securing decks, docks, pilings and other heavy-duty, coastal applications.
As always, call our Engineering Department if you have any questions.
Have you used the SDWH27800SS screw for a project? Tell us about in the comments below.
In any given year, Simpson Strong-Tie fields several questions about the use of our connectors and fasteners with pressure-treated fire-retardant wood products. Most often asked is whether this application meets the building code requirements for Type III construction, and whether there is a legitimate concern about corrosion. While there haven’t been any specific discussions on this topic in the SE Blog, there have been related discussions surrounding sources of corrosion, such as: Corrosion: The Issues, Code Requirements, Research and Solutions, Corrosion in Coastal Environments, Deck Fasteners – Deck Board to Framing Attachments. This post will explore several resources that we hope will enable you to make an informed decision about which type of pressure-treated Fire-Retardant-Treated Wood (FRTW) to choose for use with steel fasteners and connectors.
One factor contributing to the frequency of these questions is the increased height of buildings now being constructed. With increased height, there is a requirement for increased fire rating. To meet the minimum fire rating for taller buildings, the building code requires noncombustible construction for the exterior walls. As an exception to using noncombustible construction, the 2015 International Building Code (IBC®) section 602.3 allows the use of fire-retardant wood framing complying with IBC section 2303.2. This allows the use of wood-framed construction where noncombustible materials would otherwise be required.
In the 2009 IBC, Section 2304.9.5, “Fasteners in preservative-treated and fire-retardant-treated wood,” was revised to include many subsections (2304.9.5.1 through 2304.9.5.4) dealing with these wood treatments in various types of environmental applications. Section 2304.9.5.3 addressed the use of FRTW in exterior applications or wet or damp locations, and 2304.9.5.4 addressed FRTW in interior applications. These sections carried over to the 2012 IBC, and were moved to Section 2304.10.5 in the 2015 IBC. FRTW is listed in various other sections within the code. For more information about FRTW within the code (e.g., strength adjustments, testing, wood structural panels, moisture content), the Western Wood Preservers Institute has a couple of documents to consult: 2009 IBC Document and 2013 CBC Document. They also have a number of different links to various wood associations.
As shown in Figure 1 below, fasteners (including nuts and washers) used with FRTW in exterior conditions or where the wood’s service condition may include wet or damp locations need to be hot-dipped zinc-coated galvanized steel, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. This section does permit other fasteners (excluding nails, wood screws, timber rivets and lag screws) to be mechanically galvanized in accordance with ASTM B 695, Class 55 at a minimum. As shown in Figure 2, fasteners (including nuts and washers) used with FRTW in interior conditions need to be in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, or, if no recommendations are present, to comply with 2304.9.5.3.
In Type III construction where the exterior walls may be FRTW in accordance with 2012 IBC Section 602.3, one question that often comes up is whether the defined “exterior wall” should comply with Section 2304.9.5.3 or 2304.9.5.4. While there are many different views on this point, it is our opinion at Simpson Strong-Tie that Section 2304.9.5.4 would apply to the exterior walls. Since the exterior finishes of the building envelope are intended to protect the wood and components within its cavity from exterior elements such as rain or moisture, the inside of the wall would be dry.
There are many FRTW product choices on the market; take a look at the American Wood Council’s list of treaters. Unlike the preservative-treated wood industry, however, the FRTW industry involves proprietary formulations and retentions. As a result, Simpson Strong-Tie has not evaluated the FRTW products. In our current connector and fastener catalogs, C-C-2015 Wood Connector Construction and C-F-14 Fastening Systems, you will find a newly revised Corrosion Resistance Classifications chart, shown in Figure 3 below, which can be found on page 15 in each catalog. The FRTW classification has been added to the chart in the last column. The corrosion protection recommendations for FRTW in various environmental applications is set to medium or high, corresponding to a number of options for connectors and fasteners as shown in the Corrosion Resistance Recommendations chart, shown in Figure 4. These general guideline recommendations are set to these levels for two reasons: (1) there are unknown variations of chemicals commercially available on the market, and (2) Simpson Strong-Tie has not conducted testing of these treated wood components.
The information above is not the only information readily available. There are many different tests that can be done on FRTW, as noted in the Western Wood Preservers Institute’s document. One such test for corrosion is Military Specification MIL-1914E, which deals with lumber and plywood. Another is AWPA E12-08, Standard Method of Determining Corrosion of Metals in Contact with Treated Wood. Manufacturers of FRTW products who applied for and received an ICC-ES Evaluation Report must submit the results of testing for their specific chemicals in contact with various types of steel. ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria 66 (AC66), the Acceptance Criteria for Fire-Retardant-Treated Wood, requires applicants to submit information regarding the FRTW product in contact with metal. The result is a section published in each manufacturer’s evaluation report (typically Section 3.4) addressing the product use in contact with metal. Many published reports contain similar language, such as “The corrosion rate of aluminum, carbon steel, galvanized steel, copper or red brass in contact with wood is not increased by (name of manufacturer) fire-retardant treatment when the product is used as recommended by the manufacturer.” Structural engineers should check the architect’s specification on this type of material. Product evaluation reports should also be checked to ensure proper specification of hardware and fastener coatings to protect against corrosion. Each evaluation report also contains the applicable strength adjustment factors, which vary from one product to another.
Selecting the proper FRTW product for use in your building is crucial. There are many different options available. Be sure to select a product based on the published information and to communicate that information to the entire design team. Evaluation reports are a great source of information because the independently witnessed testing of manufacturers has been reviewed by the agency reviewing the report. Finally, understanding FRTW chemicals and their behavior when in contact with other building products will ensure expected performance of your structures.
What has been your experience with FRTW? What minimum recommendations do you provide in your construction documents?