Drive a New Path: Resisting Uplift with Structural Fasteners

Structural screws are designed and tested to do hard work, but that doesn’t make them hard to use. In this post, Simpson Strong-Tie structural engineer Bryan Wert explains how the load-rated strength, versatility and easy installation of the code-listed Strong-Drive® SDWC Truss screw and SDWF Floor-to-Floor screw make it a cinch to create a continuous load path to resist wind uplift. Learn more during our May 2 webinar.

Winter’s finally shedding her blanket and unveiling springtime in Texas. There’s now a short window of picture-perfect weather where my purchases at Home Depot are no longer foam hose bib covers to protect outdoor faucets from freezing temperature, but aren’t quite yet tiki torches and floats for the pool for hot and humid summer days. I find myself in the garden center looking at the freshly delivered trees, shrubs and flowers, along with just about every other adult in my city. This year, my wife’s decided we need to surround our outdoor living space with hanging planters displaying perky red, purple, yellow and blue flowers.

Upon returning home to get started on the honey-do list I find that instead of simple screw-in hooks for the hanging planters, we’ve instead purchased extension arms with S-hook do-hickeys and — lucky me — they come with their own installation screws. I try installing the screws through the predrilled bracket into the wood cedar beam at my patio’s perimeter and the screw turns maybe two revolutions before refusing to embed further. Now I have to find a drill bit to match the undefined screws. At best, this will double my time for installation and at worst cost me a second trip to the store to replace the common Phillips-head screw as it cams out upon installation. In the end, I find myself somewhere in between — predrilling holes, then hand-driving each screw into place.

This project deepened my appreciation for the full line of Simpson Strong-Tie® structural screws with either hex-head or 6-lobe drive-heads. The Simpson screws make driving easy, thanks to their proprietary SawTooth™ point that helps them start fast with reduced torque, and, the best part, require absolutely no predrilling.

One of the most exciting product groups in the growing Strong-Drive® line is the combination of the SDWC Truss screw and the SDWF Floor-to-Floor screw with TUW take-up washer. Models within these two lines of screws create a new and innovative method of creating a continuous load path for wind uplift resistance.

The Strong-Drive SDWC screw is suited for a plethora of fully tested and load-rated connection types. These include ledger-to-rim, sole-plate-to-rim and almost all connections needed to complete a load path to resist uplift forces. The SDWC is load rated for stud-to-bottom-plate or stud-to-top-plate connections, as well as fastening trusses and rafters to top plates. The fully threaded shank engages the entire length of the fastener providing a secure connection. It’s tested in accordance with ICC-ES AC233 (screw) and AC13 (wall assembly and roof-to-wall assembly), is code listed under IAPMO-UES ER-262 and meets 2012 and 2015 IRC® and IBC® code requirements for several common framing applications.

Where the SDWC Truss screw’s capabilities end, the Strong-Drive SDWF Floor-to-Floor screw’s begin. This screw’s designed to simplify the wind uplift–restraint floor-to-floor connection while providing superior performance over the life of the structure. The unique design of the SDWF enables it to attach upper and lower walls together from the top, spanning the floor system, and requires no predrilling to provide a secure connection within the continuous uplift load path of the structure.

The innovative take-up washer (TUW) plays a key role in the long-term performance of the SDWF when installed between the screw head and the sole plate of the upper floor. The specialized threaded portion under the head of the screw ratchets up through the matching threaded tabs of the TUW as the structure settles in response to shrinkage and construction loading. The interlock between the tabs of the take-up washer and the threads under the head of the SDWF prevents the screw from sliding back under load, providing a simple yet reliable means of shrinkage compensation up to 3/4″ per story.

As I sit back on my patio with a cold drink in my hand and admire my handiwork, I dare not tell my wife about the versatile, labor-saving SDWC and SDWF screws. Revealing the existence of these innovative wind uplift–resisting continuous load path screw connections might result in a much longer honey-do list that could even include deploying Strong-Drive® fasteners to build a whole new house. But while I won’t be telling my wife about it, if you’re an engineer, builder or code official interested in learning more about how to use fastener systems for uplift restraint, check out our upcoming one-hour webinar:

Drive a new path: Resisting uplift with structural fasteners

May 2 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET.

By attending this webinar, you should be able to:

  • Explain how a threaded fastener system works to establish a continuous load path for uplift restraint
  • Identify threaded fastener solutions for roof-to-wall, stud-to-plate and floor-to-floor connections
  • Describe the benefits of using Strong-Drive structural fasteners compared to traditional continuous load path connection methods
  • Recall design considerations when specifying fastening systems for resisting uplift

Continuing education credits will be offered for this webinar.

  • Participants can earn 1 professional development hour (PDH) or — by passing the accompanying test — 0.1 continuing education unit (CEU).

How do you Design Sole-Plate-To-Rim-Board Attachments?

For many years, builders have struggled with the awkward sole-plate-to-rim-board attachment. They often install a few nails and call it good, resulting in a connection with significantly less capacity than needed. This connection is critical to ensure that seismic and wind loads are adequately transferred to the lateral-force-resisting system. With screws becoming much more common in construction, we saw an opportunity to address this problem.

We offer a variety of structural wood screws that have shank diameters ranging from 0.135″ to 0.244″. They form our Strong-Drive® line of structural fasteners. The Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Drive SDWC Truss, SDWH Timber-Hex, SDWS Timber, SDWV Sole-to-Rim and SDS Heavy-Duty Connector structural wood screws as shown in Figure 1 can be used to attach sole plates to a rim board as shown in Figure 2. These screws provide structural integrity in the wall-to-floor connection.

The sole-to-rim connection is considered a dry service location. When the sole plate and the rim are both clean wood (not treated), then any of the screws can be used as long as they meet the design loads. However, if one or both members of the connection are treated with fire retardants or preservatives, then you must use the SDWS Timber screw, SDWH Timber-Hex screw or SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screw. The SDWS, SDWH and SDS screws all have corrosion-resistance ratings in their evaluation reports.

Figure 1. Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive screws for fastening the sole-to-rim connection: (a) SDWS Timber screw, (b) SDWV Sole-to-Rim screw, (c) SDWH Timber-Hex screw, (d) SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screw, (e) SDWC Truss screw.

Figure 1. Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive screws for fastening the sole-to-rim connection: (a) SDWS Timber screw, (b) SDWV Sole-to-Rim screw, (c) SDWH Timber-Hex screw, (d) SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screw, (e) SDWC Truss screw.

Figure 2. The load rating for the sole-to-rim connection is for transfer of loads parallel to the sole plate to the rim. This is a dry service condition.

Figure 2. The load rating for the sole-to-rim connection is for transfer of loads parallel to the sole plate to the rim. This is a dry service condition.

The Strong-Drive SDWV structural wood screw has the smallest diameter among these screws. The SDWV is 4″ long and has a 0.135″- diameter shank, and a large 0.400″-diameter ribbed-head with a deep six-lobe recess to provide clean countersinking. It is designed to be fast driving with very low torque. The Strong-Drive SDWS offers one of the larger diameters. It has a 0.220″-diameter shank and is offered in lengths of 4″, 5″ and 6″. It has a large 0.750″-diameter washer head which provides maximum bearing area. Longer screws allow designers to meet the minimum penetration requirement into a rim board, when the sole plate is a 3x or a double 2x member.

We have tested various combinations of sole plates, floor sheathing, and rim boards. Typical test assemblies were built and tested with two (2) Strong-Drive® screws spaced at either 3″ or 6″. Results were analyzed per ICC-ES AC233, “Acceptance Criteria for Alternate Dowel-type Threaded Fasteners.” The allowable loads listed in Table 1 are based on the average ultimate test load of at least 10 tests, divided by a safety factor of 5.0, and are rated per single fastener. The results of these tests can be found in the engineering letter L-F-SOLRMSCRW16.

The evaluated sole plates include southern pine (SP), Douglas fir-larch (DF), hem-fir (HF), and spruce-pine-fir (SPF) in single 2x, 3x or double 2x configurations. Floor sheathing thicknesses are allowed up to 1 1/8″ thick. Rim boards can be LVL or LSL structural composite lumber or DF, SP, HF or SPF sawn lumber. The load rating also assumes that the floor sheathing is fastened separately and per code.


See for evaluation report information if it is needed.

As a Designer, you can specify any of these Strong-Drive screws that fit your design requirements. Please visit our website and download L-F-SOLRMSCRW16 for more details.

Good luck!

How to Select a Connector Series – Hurricane Tie

When it comes to wood-frame construction, hurricane ties are among the most commonly specified connectors. They play a critical role in a structure’s continuous load path and may be used in a variety of applications, like attaching roof framing members to the supporting wall top plate(s), or tying wall top or bottom plates to the studs. They are most commonly used to resist uplift forces, but depending on regional design and construction practices, hurricane ties may also resist lateral loads that act in- or out-of-plane in relation to the wall.

Simpson Strong-Tie manufactures approximately 20 different models of hurricane ties, not counting twist straps, other clips, or the new fully-threaded SDWC screws often used in the same applications. This assortment of models raises the question, “How do you select the right one?”

In this post, we’ll outline some of the key elements to consider when selecting a hurricane tie for your project.

Demand Load

Let’s start with the obvious one. If your building’s roof trusses have an uplift of 600 lb. at each end, don’t select a hurricane tie with a published capacity of less than 600 lb. It’s also important to consider combined loading if you plan to use the tie to resist both uplift and lateral loads. When the connector is resisting lateral loads, its capacity to resist uplift is reduced. I won’t go into too much detail on this topic since it was covered in a recent blog post, but in lieu of the traditional unity equation shown in Figure 1, certain Simpson Strong-Tie connectors (hurricane ties included) are permitted to use the alternative approach outlined in Figure 2.

Figure 1. Traditional Linear Interaction Equation

Figure 1. Traditional Linear Interaction Equation

Figure 2. Alternative Approach for Simultaneous Loading

Figure 2. Alternative Approach for Simultaneous Loading

What if the tabulated loads in the catalog for a single connector just aren’t enough? Use multiple connectors! An important note on using multiple connectors, though: Using four hurricane ties doesn’t always mean you’ll get 4x the load. Check out the recently updated F-C-HWRCAG16 High Wind-Resistant Construction Application Guide for allowable loads using multiple connectors and for guidance on the proper placement of connectors so as to avoid potential overlap or fastener interference.

Figure 3. Allowable Load Comparison for Single and Multiple H2.5A Connectors

Figure 3. Allowable Load Comparison for Single and Multiple H2.5A Connectors

Figure 4. Proper Placement of (4) H2.5A’s to Avoid Fastener Interference

Figure 4. Proper Placement of (4) H2.5A’s to Avoid Fastener Interference


Dimensional Requirements

While the majority of the hurricane ties that Simpson Strong-Tie offers are one-sided (such as the H2.5A), some are designed so the truss or rafter fits inside a “U” shape design to allow for fastening from both sides (such as the H1). If using the latter, make sure the width of the truss or rafter is suitable for the width of the opening in the hurricane tie – don’t select an H1 for a 2-ply roof truss.

Figure 5. H2.5A and H1 Hurricane Ties

Figure 5. H2.5A and H1 Hurricane Ties

Additionally, the height of the hurricane tie and the wood members being attached should be compatible. For example, an H2.5A would not be compatible with a roof truss configured with only a nominal 2×4 bottom chord over the plate since the two upper nail holes in the H2.5A will miss the 2×4 bottom chord (see Figure 4). This is actually such a common mis-installation that we specifically tested this scenario and have developed an engineering letter on it (note the greatly reduced capacity). In this case the ideal choice would be the H2.5T, which has been specifically designed for a 2×4 truss bottom chord.

Figure 6. H2.5A Installed on 2x4 Truss Bottom Chord

Figure 6. H2.5A Installed on 2×4 Truss Bottom Chord

Figure 7. H2.5T Installed on 2x4 Truss Bottom Chord

Figure 7. H2.5T Installed on 2×4 Truss Bottom Chord


It’s also essential to pay close attention to the diameter and length of the fasteners specified in the Simpson Strong-Tie literature. While many hurricane ties have been evaluated with 8d x 1½” nails for compatibility with nominal 2x roof framing, some require the use of a longer, 8d common (2½” long) nail and others require a larger-diameter 10d nail.

When specifying products for a continuous load path, it’s a good idea to select connectors that all use the same size nail to avoid improper installations on the job. It’s much easier if the installer doesn’t need to worry about which size nail he currently has loaded in his pneumatic nailer.

Wall Framing

Do your roof and wall framing members line up? If so, creating a continuous load path can be made simpler by using a single hurricane tie to fasten the roof framing to studs. The H2A, H7Z, and H10S are some of the connectors designed to do just that. If your framing doesn’t align, though, you can use two connectors to complete the load path. For simplification and to reduce potential mix-ups in the field, consider selecting the same hurricane tie for your roof framing-to-top-plate and top plate-to-stud connections, like the H2.5A.

Figure 8. Roof-Framing-to-Stud Connection with Single Hurricane Tie

Figure 8. Roof-Framing-to-Stud Connection with Single Hurricane Tie

Besides the added benefit of fewer connectors to install, using a single hurricane tie from your roof framing to your wall studs can eliminate top-plate roll, a topic discussed at length in one of our technical bulletins.

Other Factors

Some additional factors that may influence your selection of a hurricane tie are:

  • Environmental factors and corrosion should be considered when selecting any product. Nearly every hurricane tie is available in ZMAX®, our heavier zinc galvanized coating, and several are available in Type 316 stainless steel. A full list of products available in ZMAX or stainless steel may be found on our website. On a related note, be sure to use a fastener with a finish similar to that of the hurricane tie in order to avoid galvanic corrosion caused by contact between dissimilar metals.
  • When retrofitting an existing structure, local jurisdiction requirements will also influence your decision on which hurricane tie to use. As an example, the state of Florida has very specific requirements for roof retrofitting, which we outline in a technical bulletin, and they specifically mention the roof-to-wall connection. Be sure to check with your local city, county or state for specific requirements before you decide to retrofit.
  • Availability of wind insurance discounts in your area could also affect your decision on which type of hurricane tie to use on your home. Your insurance company may provide a greater discount on your annual premium for ties that wrap over the top of your roof framing and are installed with a certain minimum quantity of nails. Check with your insurance provider for additional information and requirements.

Although this is a lot to take in, hopefully it makes choosing the right hurricane tie easier for you on your next project. Are there any other items you consider in your design that weren’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.