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

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!

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

3 “Heat Treat Furnace.” Digital Image. ThomasNet Web Solutions, n.d. 14 June 2017

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

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 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.

Why You Should Specify Stainless-Steel Screw Anchors When Designing for Corrosive Environments

Figure 1. Spalled concrete below a concrete bridge.

I was driving under a concrete bridge one nice clear day in Chicago, and I happened to look up to see rusted rebar exposed below a concrete bridge. My beautiful wife, who is not a structural engineer, turned to me and asked, “What happened to that bridge?” I explained that there are many reasons why spalling occurs below a bridge. One common reason is the expansion of steel when it rusts or corrodes.

This week’s blog will briefly explain the corrosion process and why concrete spalls when the embedded metals corrode. Corrosion may be defined as the degradation of a material as a reaction to its environment.1. As described in our previous SE Blog post, “Corrosion: The Issues, Code Requirements, Research and Solutions” dated January 3, 2013, corrosion of metallic surfaces is an electrochemical process. Because of moisture evaporation, concrete is a porous material. Water and oxygen molecules enter the pores of the concrete, and an electrochemical process occurs with the carbon-steel bar. The iron in the steel is oxidized, which then produces rust. A buildup of rust products at the surface of the carbon-steel bar exerts an expansive force on the concrete. Based on the amount of oxidation, the rust products of steel can occupy more than six times the volume of the original steel.2 Over time, further rust occurs and surface cracks will form. Eventually spalling will occur, exposing the rusted carbon steel bar. (See figure 1.)

Figure 2. Stages of corrosion.

Just as with reinforcing bars below a concrete bridge, cracking and spalling can occur when a carbon-steel anchor is used adjacent to a concrete edge. Simpson Strong-Tie® has many anchorage products that can be used in these conditions to prevent cracking. One specific product is the new stainless-steel Titen HD® screw anchor. This new innovative screw anchor is made up of Type 316 stainless steel. As seen in Figure 3, Type 316 stainless steel has a high level of resistance. This makes the stainless-steel Titen HD an excellent choice when it comes to an anchorage solution in corrosive environments. These environments include wastewater treatment plants, exterior handrails, exterior ledger attachments, stadium seating, central utility plants, and kitchens just to name a few.

Figure 3. Simpson Strong-Tie level of corrosion by material/coating.

Unlike expansion anchors, screw anchors require the leading threads to cut into predrilled holes. This can be easily achieved with hardened carbon-steel cutting threads. Stainless steel is not hard enough to cut into concrete. The new innovative stainless-steel Titen HD solves the problem by brazing heat-treated carbon-steel cutting threads to the surface of the stainless-steel tips of the screw anchor. (See figure 4.) These carbon-steel threads are hard enough to cut grooves into the surface of a predrilled hole, allowing the anchor to be installed with ease. The volume of the carbon-steel cutting threads is less than 1% of the stainless steel, reducing the buildup of rust that eventually spalls the concrete edge. Other stainless-steel screw anchor manufacturers in the market have a bi-metal product that attaches a full carbon-steel tip. This bi-metal screw anchors contain up to 18% carbon steel. Such a large amount of carbon steel can expand up to six times its volume when it corrodes and can spall the concrete when used adjacent to an edge.

Figure 4. Carbon-steel cutting threads.

Figure 5. Graphic representation of spalling in concrete adjacent to an edge.

When designing an anchorage solution for your next job in a corrosive environment, the stainless-steel Titen HD will provide the best resistance for corrosion, and also give the ability to drive these anchors into the concrete with ease. More information about the product can be obtained by visiting

  1. Corrosion Technology Laboratory (
  2. Galvanized Rebar (

Stainless-Steel Titen HD®

The Next Era of Stainless-Steel Screw Anchor For Concrete and Masonry.

Decrypting Cold-Formed Steel Connection Design

As published in STRUCTURE magazine, September 2016. Written by Randy Daudet, P.E., S.E., Product Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie.  Re-posted with permission. 

One of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries of our time lies in a courtyard outside of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It’s a sculpture called Kryptos, and although it’s been partially solved, it contains an inscription that has puzzled the most renowned cryptanalysts since being erected in 1990. Meanwhile, in another part of the DC Beltway about 15 miles to the southeast, another great mystery is being deciphered at the American and Iron Institute (AISI) headquarters. The mystery, structural behavior of cold-formed steel (CFS) clip angles, has puzzled engineers since the great George Winter helped AISI publish its first Specification in 1946. In particular, engineers have struggled with how thin-plate buckling behavior influences CFS clip angle strength under shear and compression loads. Additionally, there has been considerable debate within the AISI Specification Committee concerning anchor pull-over strength of CFS clip angles subject to tension.


The primary problem has been the lack of test data to explain clip angle structural behavior. Even with modern Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools, without test data to help establish initial deformations and boundary conditions, FEA models have proven inaccurate. Fortunately, joint funding provided by AISI, the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA), and the Steel Stud Manufactures Association (SSMA) has provided the much-needed testing that has culminated in AISI Research Report RP15-2, Load Bearing Clip Angle Design, that summarizes phase one of a multi-year research study. The report summarizes the structural behavior and preliminary design provisions for CFS load bearing clip angles and is based on testing that was carried out in 2014 and 2015 under the direction of Cheng Yu, Ph.D. at the University of North Texas. Yu’s team performed 33 tests for shear, 36 tests for compression, and 38 tests for pull-over due to tension. Clip angles ranged in thickness from 33 mils (20 ga.) to 97 mils (12 ga.), with leg dimensions that are common to the CFS framing industry. All of the test set-ups were designed so that clip angle failure would preclude fastener failure.

For shear, it was found that clips with smaller aspect ratios (L/B < 0.8) failed due to local buckling, while clips with larger aspect ratios failed due to lateral-torsional buckling. Shear test results were compared to the AISC Design Manual for coped beam flanges, but no correlation was found. Instead, a solution based on the Direct Strength Method (DSM) was employed that utilized FEA to develop a buckling coefficient for the standard critical elastic plate-buckling equation. Simplified methods were also developed to limit shear deformations to 1/8 inch. For compression, it was found that flexural buckling was the primary failure mode. Test results were compared to the gusset plate design provisions of AISI S214, North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Truss Design, and the axial compression member design provisions and web crippling design provisions of AISI S100, North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members, but no good agreement was found. Therefore, an alternate solution was developed that utilized column theory in conjunction with a Whitmore Section approach that yielded good agreement with test results. It was further found that using a buckling coefficient of 0.9 in the critical elastic buckling stress equation will produce conservative results. Finally, for pull-over due to tension, it was found that clip angle specimens exhibited significant deformation before pulling over the fastener heads (essentially the clip turns into a strap before pull-over occurs). However, regardless of this behavior, tested pull-over strength results were essentially half of AISI S100 pull-over equation E4.4.2-1.

Thanks to AISI Research Report RP15-2, there is a clearer understanding of the CFS clip angle structural behavior mysteries that have puzzled engineers for many years. However, just as the CIA’s Kryptos remains only partially solved, some aspects of clip angle behavior remain a mystery. For instance, how are the test results influenced by the fastener pattern? All of the test data to date has used a single line of symmetrically placed screws. This is something that does not occur for many practical CFS framing situations and will need additional research. Another glaring research hole is the load versus deflection behavior of clip angles under tension. As briefly mentioned above, the existing pull-over testing has demonstrated that excessive deflections can be expected before pull-over actually occurs. Obviously, most practical situations will dictate a deflection limit of something like 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch, but today we don’t have the test data to develop a solution. Fortunately, AISI in conjunction with its CFS industry partners continues to fund research on CFS clip angle behavior that will answer these questions, and possibly many more.

New Moment-Resisting Post Base

Jhakak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada is currently a Research & Development Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda, Gujarat, India, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. After graduation, she worked for an environmental consulting firm called TriHydro Corporation and as a structural engineer with Sargent & Lundy, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. She worked on the design of power plant structures such as chimney foundations, boiler building and turbine building steel design and design of flue gas ductwork. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

At Simpson Strong-Tie, we strive to make an engineer’s life easier by developing products that help with design efficiency. Our products are designed and tested to the highest standards, and that gives structural engineers the confidence that they’re using the best product for their application.

Installed MPBZ

Figure 1: Installed MPBZ

Having worked in the design industry for almost a decade, I can attest that having a catalog where you can select a product that solves an engineer’s design dilemma can be a huge time- and money-saving tool. Design engineers are always trying to create efficient designs, although cost and schedule are always constraints. Moment connections can be very efficient — provided they are designed and detailed correctly. With that in mind, we developed a moment post base connector that can resist moment in addition to download, uplift and lateral loads. In this post, I would like to talk about moment-resisting/fixed connections for post bases and also talk about the product design process.

Figure 2. MPB44Z Graphic

Figure 2. MPB44Z Graphic

Lateral forces from wind and seismic loads on a structure are typically resisted by a lateral-force-resisting system. There are three main systems used for ordinary rectangular structures: (a) braced frames, (b) moment frames and (c) shearwalls. Moment frames resist lateral forces through bending in the frame members. Moment frames allow for open frames by eliminating the need for vertical bracing or knee bracing. Moment resistance or fixity at the column base is achieved by providing translational and rotational resistance. The new patent-pending Simpson Strong-Tie® MPBZ moment post base is specifically designed to provide moment resistance for columns and posts. An innovative overlapping sleeve design encapsulates the post, helping to resist rotation at its base.

The allowable loads we publish have what I call “triple backup.” This backup consists of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), code-compliant calculations and test data. Here are descriptions of what I mean by that.

Finite Element Analysis Confirmation

Once a preliminary design for the product is developed, FEA is performed to confirm that the product behaves as we expect it to in different load conditions. Several iterations are run to come up with the most efficient design.

Figure 3. FEA Output of Preliminary MPB Conceptual Design

Figure 3. FEA Output of Preliminary MPB Conceptual Design

Code-Compliance Calculations

Load calculations are prepared in accordance with the latest industry standards. The connector limit states are calculated for the wood-post-to-MPBZ connection and for MPBZ anchorage in concrete. Steel tensile strength is determined in accordance with ICC-ES AC398 and AISI S100-07. Wood connection strength is determined in accordance with ICC-ES AC398 and AC13. Fastener design is analyzed as per NDS. SDS screw values are analyzed using known allowable values per code report ESR-2236. The available moment capacity of the post base fastened to the wood member is calculated in accordance with the applicable bearing capacity of the post and lateral design strength of the fasteners per the NDS or ESR values. Concrete anchorage pull-out strength is determined in accordance with AC398.

Test Data Verification

The moment post base is tested for anchorage in both cracked and uncracked concrete in accordance with ICC-ES AC398.

Figure 4. Uplift Test Setup

Figure 4. Uplift Test Setup

The moment post base assembly is tested for connection strength in accordance with ICC-ES AC13.

Figure 5: Moment (induced by lateral load application) Test Set Up

Figure 5: Moment (induced by lateral load application) Test Set Up

The assembly (post and MPBZ) is tested for various loading conditions: download, uplift and lateral load in both orthographic directions and moment. Applicable factor(s) of safety are applied, and the controlling load for each load condition is published in the Simpson Strong-Tie Wood Construction Connectors Catalog.

Now let’s take a look at a sign post base design example to see how the MPBZ data can be used.

Design Example:

Figure 6: Sign Post Base Design Example

Figure 6: Sign Post Base Design Example

The MPB44Z is used to support a 9ʹ-tall 4×4 post with a 2ʹ x 2ʹ sign mounted at the top. The wind load acting on the surface of the sign is determined to be 100 lb. The MPB44Z is installed into concrete that is assumed to be cracked.

  • The design lateral load due to wind at the MPB44Z is 100 lb.
  • The design moment due to wind at the MPB44Z is (100 lb.) x (8 ft.) = 800 ft.-lb.
  • The Allowable Loads for the MPB44Z are:
    • Lateral (F1) = 1,280 lb.
    • Moment (M) = 985 ft.-lb.
  • Simultaneous Load Check:
    • 800/985 + 100/1,280 = 0.89. This is less than 1.0 and is therefore acceptable.


We are very excited about our new MPBZ! We hope that this product will get you excited about your next open-structure design. Let us know your thoughts by providing comments here.

Considerations for Designing Anchorage in Proximity to Abandoned Anchor Holes

danharmon.headshot.finalThis week’s post comes from Dan Harmon, an R&D engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie’s Infrastructure-Commercial-Industrial (ICI) group. Dan specializes in post-installed concrete anchor design and spent a decade managing Simpson’s anchor testing lab, where he developed extensive knowledge of anchor behavior and performance. He has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Designers and engineers can spend hundreds of hours on detailed drawings of structures, but there are often conditions and coordination that can change well-planned details and drawings. As we all know, paper and reality don’t always agree. Anchorage locations can move as a result of unforeseen circumstances such as encountering reinforcing bars in an existing concrete slab or interference between different utility trades.

With post-installed anchors, one particular jobsite change may require abandoning a hole that has been drilled, leaving the final anchor location adjacent to the abandoned hole. When a hole for an anchor is drilled but never used, it essentially creates a large void in the concrete. Depending on where this void is located in relation to an installed anchor, there is potential for the capacity of that anchor to be reduced. To give guidance on this situation to specifiers, users and contractors, Simpson Strong-Tie conducted a large series of tests in their ISO 17025–accredited Anchor Systems Test Lab in Addison, Illinois.

To evaluate the effect of abandoned holes located adjacent to post-installed anchors, we performed tension tests meeting the requirements of ASTM E488-15 (see Figure 1). A variety of anchor types with common diameters were tested:

  • Drop-in anchors (1/2″ and 3/4″ diameter)
  • Wedge-type anchors (1/2″ and 3/4″ diameter)
  • Concrete screws (1/2″ diameter)
  • Adhesive anchors with threaded rod (1/2″ diameter)
Figure 1: Common Unconfined Tension Test Set-Up per ASTM E488-15

Figure 1: Common Unconfined Tension Test Set-Up per ASTM E488-15

Each anchor type and diameter was tested under five different conditions:

  • No abandoned hole near the installed anchor. This is considered the reference condition to which other tests are to be compared.
  • One abandoned hole at a distance of two times the hole diameter (2d) away from the installed anchor. See Figure 2.
  • One abandoned hole at a distance of four times the hole diameter (4d) away from the installed anchor.
  • Two abandoned holes, each at a distance of two times the hole diameter (2d) away from the installed anchor. In test conditions with two holes, the holes were located on either side of the installed anchor, approximately 180º from each other. See Figure 3.
  • Two abandoned holes, each at a distance of two times the hole diameter (2d) away from the installed anchor, with the holes refilled with a concrete anchoring adhesive that was allowed to cure fully prior to testing. See Figure 4.
Figure 2: Drop-In Anchor with a Single Hole at a Distance of 2d

Figure 2: Drop-In Anchor with a Single Hole at a Distance of 2d

Figure 3: Drop-In Anchor with Two Holes at a Distance of 2d

Figure 3: Drop-In Anchor with Two Holes at a Distance of 2d

Figure 4: Drop-In Anchor with Two Holes, Filled with Anchoring Adhesive, at a Distance of 2d

Figure 4: Drop-In Anchor with Two Holes, Filled with Anchoring Adhesive, at a Distance of 2d

This test program is summarized in Table 1. In all cases, the abandoned hole was of the same diameter and depth as the hole prescribed for the installed anchor.

Table 1. Summary of Test Program

Table 1. Summary of Test Program

Five tests for each anchor under each condition were tested, and the mean and coefficient of variance of each data set were calculated. These calculated values were used to compare the different conditions.

Across the different anchor types and diameters, the test results showed a number of general rules that held true.

Summary Results

Abandoned holes that are 2” or more away from the anchor have little to no effect on the tension performance of the anchor. Compared to the reference condition with no abandoned hole near the anchor, conditions where the abandoned hole was sufficiently far away were found to be essentially equivalent. This equivalence held true even for anchor types that create expansion forces (drop-in and wedge-type anchors) during their installation.

Two abandoned holes have the same effect on performances as one, regardless of distance from the anchor. This testing showed that adding a second abandoned hole near an installed anchor did not adversely affect tension performance in a significant way. Even within distances of 2 inches, performance did not drop substantially – if at all – in conditions involving two abandoned holes as compared to one.

Filling abandoned holes with an anchoring adhesive prior to installation of the anchor improves performance. In all cases tested, filling abandoned holes with adhesives resulted in increased performance compared to leaving the holes empty. In a majority of cases, performance with filled holes was equivalent to performance in the reference condition regardless of the distance from the anchor.

When the abandoned hole is more than two times the drilled hole diameter but less than 2″from the anchor – and left unfilled – the testing showed a loss in performance. Not surprisingly, the degree of that loss was dependent on the type of anchor. Table 2 shows the capacity reduction compared to the reference condition in testing with expansion anchors. Table 3 shows the same results for concrete screws and adhesive anchors. Conservative suggested performance reductions in these conditions would be 20% for expansion anchors and 10% for concrete screws and adhesive anchors.

Table 2: Performance Reduction for Expansion Anchors

Table 2: Performance Reduction for Expansion Anchors

Table 3: Performance Reduction for Concrete Screws and Adhesive Anchors

Table 3: Performance Reduction for Concrete Screws and Adhesive Anchors

In an ideal world, the engineer’s designs could be followed at all times at the jobsite. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Good engineering judgment is needed in situations where variation is required, and having data to support those decisions is always helpful. In the case of abandoned holes near post-installed anchors, it’s Simpson Strong-Tie’s hope that this testing provides additional guidance for the designer, inspector, and jobsite worker.


Q&A: Best Practices for FRP Strengthening Design


On December 1, 2016, Simpson Strong-Tie hosted a webinar titled “The Design Fundamentals of FRP Strengthening” in which Justin Streim, P.E. – one of our Field Engineers – and I discussed the best practices for fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) strengthening design. The webinar examines FRP components, applications and installation. It also features an example of the evaluation that went into a flexural-beam-strengthening design and discusses the assistance and support Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Services offers from initial project assessment to installation. Watch the on-demand webinar and earn PDH and CEU credits here.

During the live webinar, we had the pleasure of presenting to more than 1,500 engineers who asked nearly 300 questions during the Q&A session. Here is a curated selection of Q&A from that session:


Can you discuss the flexural strengthening for reinforced masonry walls?

Out-of-plane flexural strengthening can be provided with FRP on the required face of wall. In-plane (or shear wall type) flexural strengthening can also be provided with vertical FRP strips near the ends of walls.

In general, by what percentage can FRP solutions increase the strength of existing concrete shearwalls?

This really depends on the existing wall, but we have seen strength increases of 22% in our testing of one layer of glass fabric installed on 8″ thick ungrouted CMU shearwall.

How does FRP compete in terms of cost? It seems like a cost-prohibitive solution compared to other remediation techniques in the absence of other limiting factors (space limitations, etc.).

FRP may be expensive on a cost/SF basis. However, if you compare it with the materials and labor involved in section enlargement or demolishing parts of buildings, it becomes cost effective. FRP installations are also not unsightly like bolted steel plates or wide flange members slung under concrete slabs/beams.

Who designs the FRP system: Simpson Strong-Tie or the Structural Designer?

The Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Services group provides the FRP design on most projects, but we have also worked with the engineer on record (EOR) to check their FRP design on projects.

Are there any deformation compatibility issues between carbon fiber or glass and existing reinforcing bar that need to be accounted for in design? Is long-term creep similar to that seen with reinforcing bar?

CFRP and GFRP have different elastic moduli from each other and from steel. When designing an FRP strengthening solution, these differences must be taken into account. For flexural applications, the FRP should be designed to fail from debonding after the internal rebar begins to yield. Creep is taken into account in design equations through reduction factors and stress checks.

Will ACI 440 be updated to include the use of FRP with post-tensioned beams (i.e., unbonded tendons)? Does Simpson Strong-Tie do all stress checks based on gross section properties when total stress is < 12sqrtf’c?

Yes, there is an ACI 440 committee working on including an unbonded PT section in ACI 440.2R. We will work with the EOR to determine what section properties are most appropriate for the specific member being evaluated.

Can you increase deflection limits with FRP?

While FRP does help to limit deflection in members, members with deflection issues are not typically candidates for FRP repair. Prestressed laminates as used in Europe would be a better solution for a member with deflection issues. We do not currently offer prestressed laminates but may in the future.

Does an aesthetic coating interfere with bridge inspection? What is inspection looking for? Delamination or other defects?

A coating could interfere with a visual inspection of the FRP surface. A visual inspection can reveal changes in color, debonding, peeling, blistering, cracking, crazing, deflections, indications of reinforcing-bar corrosion, and other anomalies. In addition, ultrasonic, acoustic sounding (hammer tap) and thermographic tests may indicate signs of progressive delamination. ACI 440 and AC 178 have extensive special inspection recommendations.

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.

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


Pile Construction Fasteners – New and Expanded Applications

The majority of Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners are used to secure small, solid-sawn lumber and engineered wood members. However, there is a segment in the construction world where large piles are the norm. Pile framing is common in piers along the coast, elevated houses along the beach, and docks and boardwalks.

While the term “pile” is generic, the piles themselves are not generic. They come in both square and round shapes, as well as an array of sizes, and they vary greatly based on region. The most common pile sizes are 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches, square and round, but they can be found in other sizes. The 8-inch and 10-inch round piles are usually supplied in their natural shape, while 12-inch round piles are often shaped to ensure a consistent diameter and straightness. All piles are preservative-treated.

Historically, the attachment of framing to piles has been done with bolts. This is a very labor-intensive method of construction, but for many years there was no viable fastener alternative. Two years ago, however, Simpson Strong-Tie introduced a new screw, the Strong-Drive® SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw (SDWH27G), specifically designed for pile- framing construction needs. It can be installed without predrilling and is hot-dip galvanized (ASTM A153, Class C) for exterior applications.

Figure 1 – SDWH27G Lengths

Figure 1 – SDWH27G Lengths

Simpson Strong-Tie tested a number of different pile-framing connections that can be made with the SDWH27G screw. This blog post will highlight some of the tested connections. More information can be found in the following three documents on our website:

  • The flier for the SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw: F-FSDWHHDG14 found here.
  • The engineering letter for Square Piles found here.
  • The engineering letter for Round Piles found here.

The flier provides product information, and the engineering letters include dimensional details for common pile-framing connections that were tested.

Piles are typically notched or coped to receive a horizontal framing member called a “stringer.” The coped shoulder provides bearing for the stringer and serves as a means of transferring gravity load to the pile. The SDWH27G can be used to fasten framing to coped and non-coped round and square piles.

The connections that we tested can be put into four general groups that include both round and square piles:

  • Two-side framing on coped and non-coped piles
  • One–side framing on coped and non-coped piles
  • Corner framing on coped piles
  • Bracing connections

Additionally, the testing program included four different framing materials in several thicknesses and depths:

  • Glulam
  • Parallam
  • Sawn lumber

The total testing program included more than 50 connection conditions that represented pile shape and size, framing material and thickness and framing orientation and details. We assigned allowable uplift and lateral properties to the tested connections using the analysis methods of ICC-ES AC13. Figures 2 and 3 show some of the tested assemblies.

Figure 2 – Uplift Test of a 10" Coped Round Pile with a 3-2x10 SYP Stringer

Figure 2 – Uplift Test of a 10″ Coped Round Pile with a 3-2×10 SYP Stringer

Figure 3 – Lateral Test of an 8" Coped Square Pile with a 3.125" Glulam Stringer

Figure 3 – Lateral Test of an 8″ Coped Square Pile with a 3.125″ Glulam Stringer

Figures 4 through 9 illustrate some of the connections and details that are presented in the flier and engineering letters.

Some elements of practice are important to the design of pile-framing connections. Some of the basic practices include:

  • For coped connections, the coped section shall not be more than 50% of the cross-section.
  • For coped connections, the coped shoulder should be as wide as the framing member(s).
  • Fastener spacing is critical to the capacity of the connection.
  • When installing fasteners from two directions, lay out the fasteners so that they do not intersect.
Figure 4 – Square and Round Two-Sided Stringers

Figure 4 – Square and Round Two-Sided Stringers

Figure 5 – Single-Side Stringer with Notched Pile

Figure 5 – Single-Side Stringer with Notched Pile

Figure 6 – Single-Side Stringer with Unnotched Pile

Figure 6 – Single-Side Stringer with Unnotched Pile

Figure 7 – Round Pile Corner Condition

Figure 7 – Round Pile Corner Condition

Figure 8 – Square Pile Corner Condition

Figure 8 – Square Pile Corner Condition

In many cases, pile-framing connections use angled braces for extra lateral support. The SDWH27G can be used in these cases too.

Figure 9 – Braced Condition

Figure 9 – Braced Condition

In the flier and engineering letters previously referenced, you will find allowable loads and specific fastener specifications for many combinations of stringer and pile types and sizes.

What have you seen in your area? Let us know – perhaps we can add your conditions to our list.


New LSSJ Hanger Strengthens Jack Rafter Connections

When our company is considering a new or improved product, we like to start out by talking to our customers first. That’s what we did recently with a connector improvement project for attaching jack rafter hangers in roof framing – and we got lots of feedback!

We heard from installers that they really wanted a hanger that could be easily adjusted in the field for different slopes and skews. We were asked whether we could design a hanger that could be installed after the rafters were already tacked into place to support construction sequencing and retrofit applications. Also, having a hanger that could be installed from one side was a popular time-saving request.

Our Engineering innovation team took all this feedback and closely evaluated our current selection of hangers. After much consideration, the team decided that rather than adapt one of our existing hangers, they would try to  come up with an all-new design that would satisfy our customers’ most pressing needs.

After months of designing and testing prototypes in the lab and in field trials, the answer was yes. The result is our new LSSJ field-adjustable jack hanger. It’s an innovative field-slopeable and field-skewable hanger that features a versatile hinged seat. This new design allows it to be adjusted to typical rafter slopes, with a max slope of 12:12 up or down.

What is a jack hanger and why does it provide a better connection than nails alone? 

There are two basic types of wood roof construction: framed roof construction (stick framing) as shown above, and truss assembly. The main difference is that stick assembly takes place onsite, while trusses are prefabricated and ready to place. In the United States, the number of truss-built roofs versus stick-frame roofs is about two to one. The LSSJ jack hanger is used for stick-frame construction and provides a connection between the jack rafter to either the hip rafter or the valley rafter as shown below.

The LSSU hanger connects the jack rafter to the hip rafter

The LSSJ hanger connects the jack rafter to the hip rafter

Connecting a 2X jack rafter to a hip is hardly new. The hardest thing is making a good compound miter cut – something an experienced framer can figure out (and most engineers marvel at). In many parts of the country, these are simply face-nailed into place.  Often there isn’t a lot of engineering that goes into that connection.  However, a closer look raises a couple of questions.

Random Nail Placement

Where exactly are those nails going? When there’s no seat support for the rafter, the allowable shear is reduced per the NDS depending on where the lowest nail on the rafter is. This is based on the split that develops at the lowest fastener. The LSSJ provides a partial seat which not only meets the bearing requirement of section R802.6 of the IRC but also delays the type of splitting found in a nailed-only connection.

Consistent Nail Placement

The LSSJ conforms to the bottom of the jack rafter slope and ensures consistent nail placement on both the rafter and the hip.  Consistent nail placement promotes consistent performance based on testing (or as consistent as wood gets)!  The highest nail on the hip is located near the neutral axis if the hip is one size deeper than the rafter.  This assures that not all the load is focused at the bottom of the hip.

A Closer Look at the LSSJ Jack Hanger

Some of our customers may be familiar with our current product, the LSSU, which is used for the same connection. Here’s a closer look at the improvements that the LSSJ offers.




LSSU and LSSJ Installation


LSSU and LSSJ Skewing

You can see the differences and improvements just by looking at these hangers, installations and load tables. Here’s a different way of showing the advances and benefits of the LSSJ:

LSSJ Improvements

LSSJ Improvements

One of the greatest improvements is the fact that there are fewer nails to install in the LSSJ, and the loads are very similar if not better.

In addition to the LSSJ, Simpson Strong-Tie offers a full line of connectors for wood-framed sloped roofs, including:


We look forward to hearing from you about our newest innovation. For more information about the LSSJ hanger, please see