Firewalls for Wood Construction

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a term that is used in the construction industry to describe a fire-resistive-rated wall or fire-stop system, which is an element in a building that separates adjacent spaces to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within a building or between separate buildings. A firewall is actually one of three different types of walls that can be used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

 Types of fire-resistive-rated walls: 

 The three types of fire-resistive-rated walls are firewalls, fire barriers and fire partitions. They are listed in order from the most stringent requirements to the least. A firewall is a fire-resistive-rated wall having protected openings, which restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the foundation to or through the roof with sufficient structural stability under fire conditions to allow collapse of construction on either side without collapse of the wall. A fire barrier is a fire-resistive-rated wall assembly of materials designed to restrict the spread of fire which continuity is maintained.  A fire partition is a vertical assembly of materials designed to restrict the spread of fire in which openings are protected.  Each type has varying requirements and the table below displays some of the differences between them.

fire-resistive-rated-wallsWhat are some of the typical uses of each type of fire-resistive wall? 

As the requirements for each type of wall vary, so do the uses. Typical uses of each are as follows:

  • Firewalls – party walls, exterior walls, interior bearing walls
  • Fire barriers – shaft enclosures, exit passageways, atriums, occupancy separations
  • Fire partitions – corridor walls, tenant space walls, sleeping units within the same building

How do you determine whether your wood building design needs a firewall?

The 2012 International Building Code (the IBC, or “the Code” in what follows), which is adopted by most building departments in the United States, is the resource we are using in this discussion. (As a side note, it’s possible your city or county has supplemental requirements, and it is best to contact your local building department for this information up front.)

To determine your fire-resistive wall requirements, review these chapters in the 2012 IBC:

  • Chapter 3, Identify Occupancy Group – typically Section 310 (“Residential Group”) for wood construction
  • Chapter 5, Select Construction Type – Section 504, Table 503
  • Chapter 6, Determine Fire-Resistive Rating Requirements – Table 601, typically Type III wood-constructed buildings require a two-hour fire separation for the exterior bearing walls

What are typical fire-resistive wall designs? 

 Information for one-hour, two-hour designs, etc. can be found in tables 721.1(2) and 721.1(3) of the Code provide information to obtain designs that meet the rating requirements (in hours) for your building, including the walls and floor/roof systems. The GA-600 is another reference that the Code allows if the design is not proprietary.

How do I know whether the structural attachments I specify for the wall and roof assemblies meet the Code requirement?

Once the wall or floor/roof assembly design is selected, the Designer must ensure that the components of the wall do not reduce the fire rating. The Code requires that products which pierce the membrane of the assemblies at a hollow location undergo a fire test to ensure they meet the requirements of the design. ASTM E814 and ASTM E119 are the standards governing the fire tests for materials and components of the fire-resistive wall. There are several criteria that the component in the assembly must meet: a flame-through criterion, a change-in-temperature criterion and a hose-stream test.

Simpson Strong-Tie has created the DHU hanger for use with typical two-hour fire-resistive walls for wood construction.The DHU hanger has passed the ASTM E814 testing and can be used on a fire-resistive wall of 2×4 or 2×6 constructions and up to two 5/8″ layers of gypsum board. The DHU and DHUTF have both an F (Fire) and a T (Temperature) rating.

dhutf-dhu-hangersThe DHU/DHUTF hanger has two options, a face-mount version (DHU) and a top-flange version (DHUTF).  The hanger doesn’t require any cuts or openings in the drywall, which ensures reliable performance; no special inspection is required.  To install the hanger, gypsum board must first be installed in a double or single layer, at least as deep as the hanger.  For installation, apply a two-layer strip of Type X drywall along the top of the wall, making the base layer a wider strip (bottom edge is 12″ or more below the face layer, depending on jurisdiction).  Then install ¼” x 3½” Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive® SDS screws through the hanger and into top plates of the wall.  Since the hanger is more eccentric than typical, the top plates of the wall must be restrained from rotation. The SSP clip can be used for restraint, but the design may not require it if there is a sufficient amount of resistance already in place, such as sheathing, a bearing wall above, or a party wall as determined by the designer.  See the photos and installation illustration below for guidance or visit our website for further information.

typical-installation-over-2-layers-drywall

 

 

Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall – The Latest in Our Prefabricated Shearwall Panel Line Part 2

In last week’s blog post, we introduced the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall. Let’s now take a step back and understand how we evaluate a prefabricated shear panel to begin with.

First, we start with the International Building Code (IBC) or applicable state or regional building code. We would be directed to ASCE7 to determine wind and seismic design requirements as applicable. In particular, this would entail determination of the seismic design coefficients, including the response modification factor, R, overstrength factor, Ωo, and deflection amplification factor, Cd, for the applicable seismic-force-resisting system. Then back to the IBC for the applicable building material: Chapter 23 covers Wood. Here, we would be referred to AWC’s Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS) if we’re designing a lateral-force-resisting system to resist wind and seismic forces using traditional site-built methods.

Design Documents: IBC, ASCE7 and SDPWS

Design Documents: IBC, ASCE7 and SDPWS

These methods are tried and true and have been shown to perform very well in light-frame construction during wind or seismic events. But over the years, many people have come to enjoy things like lots of natural light in our homes, great rooms with tall ceilings and off-street secure parking.

prefab2Due to Shearwall aspect ratio limitations defined in SDPWS as well as the strength and stiffness limitations of these traditional materials – including wood structural panel sheathing, plywood siding and structural fiberboard sheathing, to name a few – we’re left looking for alternative solutions. Thankfully, the IBC has left room for the use of innovative solutions beyond what’s explicitly stated in the code. Section 104.11 of the 2015 IBC provides the following provision:

104.11 Alternative material, design and methods of construction and equipment

The provisions of this code are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or prohibit any design or method of construction not specifically prescribed by this code, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material, design or method of construction shall be approved where the building official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method, or work offered is, for the purpose intended, not less than the equivalent of that prescribed in this code in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety…

104.11.1 Research Reports. Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.

104.11.2 Tests. Whenever there is insufficient evidence of compliance with the provisions of this code […] the building official shall have the authority to require tests as evidence of compliance…

Research Reports

The route we at Simpson Strong-Tie typically take is to obtain a research report from an approved source, i.e., the ICC Evaluation Service or the IAPMO Uniform Evaluation Service. Each of these evaluation service agencies publishes acceptance criteria that have gone through a public review process and contain evaluation procedures. The evaluation procedures might contain referenced codes and test methods, analysis procedures and requirements for compatibility with code-prescribed systems.

Prefabricated Panel Evaluation

Let’s once again take a step back and consider the function of our Strong-Wall® shearwalls. They’re prefabricated panels intended to provide lateral and vertical load-carrying capacity to a light-framed wood structure where traditional methods are not applicable or are insufficient. We need to provide a complete lateral load path, which ensures that the load continues through the top connection into the panel and then into the foundation through the bottom connection. To evaluate the panel’s ability to do what we’re asking of it, we use a combination of testing and calculations with considerations for concrete bearing, fastener shear, combined member loading, tension and shear anchorage, panel strength and stiffness, etc.

I could write a five-thousand-word feature story for the New York Times discussing the calculations in great detail, but let’s focus on the more exciting part – testing! Simpson Strong-Tie has several accredited facilities across the country where all of this testing takes place; click here for more info.

Testing Acceptance Criteria

Now to pull back the curtain a bit on the criteria we follow in our testing: We test our panels in accordance with the criteria provided in ICC-ES AC130 – Acceptance Criteria for Prefabricated Wood Shear Panels or ICC-ES AC322 – Acceptance Criteria for Prefabricated, Cold-Formed, Steel Lateral-Force-Resisting Vertical Assemblies, as applicable. These criteria reference the applicable ASTM Standard, ASTM E2126-11, which illustrates test set-up requirements and defines the loading protocol among other things. If you’re interested, the work done by the folks involved with the CUREE-Caltech Woodframe Project, which is the basis for the testing protocol we use today, makes for an excellent read. The CUREE protocol, as it’s known, is a displacement-controlled cyclic loading history that defines how to load a panel. A reference displacement, Δ, is determined from monotonic testing, and the cyclic loading protocol, which is a series of increasing displacements whose amplitudes are functions of Δ, is developed. I’ve provided a graphic depicting the protocol below.

CUREE Loading Protocol (Excerpt from ASTM E2126-11)

CUREE Loading Protocol (Excerpt from ASTM E2126-11)

When prefabricated shear panels are subjected to the loading protocol shown above, a load-displacement response is generated; we call this a hysteresis loop or curve.

Hysteresis Curve (Excerpt from ASTM E2126-11)

Hysteresis Curve (Excerpt from ASTM E2126-11)

We then use this curve to generate an average envelope (backbone) curve that will be used for analysis in accordance with the procedures defined in AC130 or AC322 as applicable.

Average Envelope Curve (Except from ASTM E2126-11)

Average Envelope Curve (Except from ASTM E2126-11)

Returning to the acceptance criteria, there are different points of interest on the average envelope curve depending upon whether we’re establishing allowable test-based values for wind-governed designs or for seismic-governed designs. I should also note that both wind and seismic designs consider both drift and strength limits when determining allowable design values.

Wind is fairly straightforward, so let’s start there. While the building code does not explicitly define a story drift limit for wind design, the acceptance criteria do. The allowable wind drift, Δwind, shall be taken as H/180, where H is the story height. The allowable ASD in-plane shear value, Vwind, is taken as the load corresponding to Δwind. I mentioned a strength limit as well; this is simply taken as the ultimate test load divided by a safety factor of 2.0.

Contrary to wind design, the building code does define a story drift limit for seismic design. ASCE7 Table 12.12-1 defines the allowable story drift, δx, as 0.025H for our purposes, where H is the story height. The strength design level response displacement, δxe, is now determined using ASCE7 Equation 12.8-15 as referenced in AC130 and AC322 as follows:

formula1

Where:

  • δxe = LRFD strength design level response displacement
  • δx = Allowable story drift = 0.025H for Risk Category I/II Buildings (ASCE7 Table 12.12-1)
  • Ie = Seismic importance factor = 1.0 for Risk Category I Buildings (ASCE7 Table 1.5-2)
  • Cd = Deflection amplification factor = 4.0 for bearing wall systems consisting of light-frame wood walls sheathed with wood structural panels rated for shear resistance (ASCE7 Table 12.2-1)

We then consider the shear load corresponding to the strength level response displacement, VLRFD, and multiply this value by 0.7 to determine the allowable ASD shear based on the seismic drift limit, VASD. Lastly, the seismic strength limit is taken as the ultimate test load divided by a safety factor of 2.5.

Compatibility with Code-Prescribed Methods

We’ve gone through the steps to evaluate the allowable design values for our panels, but we’re not done yet. AC130 and AC322 define a series of criteria to ensure that the seismic response is compatible with code-defined methods with respect to strength, ductility and deformation capacity. Once we verify that these compatibility parameters have been satisfied, we may then apply the response modification factor, R, overstrength factor, Ωo, and deflection amplification factor, Cd, defined in ASCE7 for bearing wall systems consisting of light-frame wood or cold-formed steel walls sheathed with wood structural panels or steel sheets. This enables the prefabricated shearwalls to be used in light-frame wood or cold-formed steel construction. I’ve very briefly covered an important topic in seismic compatibility, but there has been plenty published on the issue; I recommend perusing the article here for more details.

We’ve now followed the path from building code to acceptance criteria to evaluation report. More importantly, we understand why Strong-Wall® shearwall panels are required and the basics of how they’re evaluated. If there are items that you’d like to see covered in more detail or if you have questions, let us know in the comments below.

 

Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall – The Latest in Our Prefabricated Shearwall Panel Line Part 1

calebphoto1This week’s post comes from Caleb Knudson, an R&D Engineer at our home office. Since joining Simpson Strong-Tie in 2005, he has been involved with engineered wood products and has more recently focused his efforts on our line of prefabricated Strong-Wall Shearwall panels. Caleb earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on Structures from Washington State University. Upon completion of his graduate work, which focused on the performance of bolted timber connections, Caleb began his career at Simpson and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California.

Some contractors and framers have large hands, which can pose a challenge for them when they’re trying to install the holdown nuts used to attach our Strong-Wall® SB (SWSB) Shearwall product to the foundation. Couple that challenge with the fact that anchorage attachment can only be achieved from the edges of the SWSB panel, and variable site-built framing conditions can limit access depending upon the installation sequence. To alleviate anchorage accessibility issues, we’ve required a gap between the existing adjacent framing and SWSB panel equal to the width of a 2x stud to provide access so the holdown nut can be tightened. Even so, try telling a framer an inch and a half is plenty of room in which to install the nut!

SWSB Edge Access

SWSB Edge Access

2x Gap for SWSB Installation

2x Gap for SWSB Installation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the SWSB is a fantastic product with many great features and benefits from its field adjustability to its versatility with different applications and some of the highest allowable values in the industry, the installation challenges were real.

Back to the Drawing Board

Our goal was to develop a new holdown for the SWSB that would allow for face access of the anchor bolts, making the panel compatible with any framing condition, while maintaining equivalent performance. All we needed to do is cut a large hole in each face of the holdown without compromising strength or stiffness — piece of cake, right? Well, that’s exactly what we did. In the process, we addressed the needs of the architect, the engineer and the builder — and for bonus points, anchorage inspection is now much easier, which should make the building official happy too.

Introducing the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall

Simpson Strong-Tie® has just launched the Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall (WSW) panel, which replaces the SWSB. The new panel provides the same features and benefits, and addresses the same applications as the SWSB; however, now it also features face-access holdowns distinguished by their Simpson Strong-Tie orange color.

Strong-Wall Wood Shearwall

Strong-Wall Wood Shearwall

We’ve also updated the top connection, which now provides two options based on installer preference. The standard installation uses the two shear plates shipped with the panel which are installed on each side of the panel by means of nails. As an alternative, the builder can install a single shear plate from either side of the panel using a combination of Strong-Drive® SD Connector screws and Strong-Drive® SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screws.

woodshear4

Allowable In-Plane Lateral Shear Loads

I mentioned that one of our primary development requirements was to meet the existing allowable design values of the SWSB. Not only did we meet our target values, but we exceeded them by as much as 25% for standard and balloon framing application panels and up to 50% for portal application panels. I’ve included a table below showing the most commonly specified standard and portal application SWSB models and how the allowable wind and seismic shear values compare to those of the corresponding WSW model.

woodshear11

Grade-Beam Anchorage Solutions

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the grade-beam anchorage solutions we’ve developed for use with the Strong-Wall Wood Shearwall. The solutions have been calculated to conform to ACI 318-14, and testing at the Simpson Strong-Tie Tyrell Gilb Research Laboratory confirmed the need to comply with ACI 318 requirements to prevent plastic hinging at anchor locations for seismic loading. The testing consisted of 1) control specimens without anchor reinforcement, 2) specimens with closed-tie anchor reinforcement, and 3) specimens with non-closed u-stirrups. Flexural and shear reinforcement were designed to resist amplified anchorage forces and compared to test beams designed for non-amplified strength-level forces.

Significant Findings from Testing

We found that grade-beam flexural and shear capacity is critical to anchor performance and must be designed to exceed the demands created by the attached structure. In wind load applications, this includes the factored demand from the WSW. In seismic applications, testing and analysis have shown that in order to achieve the anchor performance expected by ACI 318 Anchorage design methodologies, the concrete member design strength needs to resist the amplified anchor design demand from ACI 318-14 Section 17.2.3.4. To help Designers achieve this, Simpson Strong-Tie recommends applying the seismic design moment listed below at the WSW location.

woodshear7

We also found that closed-tie anchor reinforcement is critical to maintain the integrity of the reinforced core where the anchor is located. Testing with u-stirrups that did not include complete closed ties showed premature splitting failure of the grade beam. In a previous blog post, we discussed our grade-beam test program in much greater detail as it applies to our Steel Strong-Wall panels.

Strong-Wall® Wood Shearwall

To support the Strong-Wall Wood Shearwall, Simpson Strong-Tie has published a 52-page catalog with design information and installation details. We’ve also received code listing from ICC-ES; the evaluation report may be found here. Now that you’re all familiar with the WSW, be sure to check out next week’s blog post where we’ll cover the basics of prefabricated shear panel testing and evaluation. In addition, to help Designers understand all of the development and testing as well as design examples using prefabricated shearwalls, Simpson Strong-Tie will be offering a Prefabricated Wood Shearwall Webinar on June 21, 2016, covering:

  • The different types of prefabricated shearwalls and why they were developed.
  • The engineering and testing behind prefabricated shearwalls.
  • Best practices and design examples for designing to withstand seismic and wind events.
  • Code reports on shearwall applications.
  • Introduction of the latest Simpson Strong-Tie prefabricated shearwall.

You can register for the webinar here.

Last but not least, we always appreciate hearing from you, whether you’re an engineer specifying our panels or in the field handling the installation. If there are applications that we haven’t addressed or additional resources that would be beneficial, please let us know in the comments below.

Mass Timber Construction – Building for the Future

fredtai-2This week’s post comes from Fred Tai. Fred Tai is the Engineering Manager for Simpson Strong-Tie Canada where he has worked for the last 13 years. He has an extensive background in structural engineering and worked as a structural consultant in building designs prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie. During his career, he was involved in ASTM D7 and is active in regional wood truss associations, regional building code committee and regional building research committee. He has a bachelor of applied science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada and is a licensed engineer in Canada.

The future is here.

It is common knowledge that wood is a renewable and environmentally friendly building material. There are two types of wood-framing methods in North America. The most common method for residential construction is light-frame construction using either balloon-framing or platform-framing methods. Standardized dimensional lumber has become the dominant building material in light-frame construction because of its economy. The other method is heavy-timber construction, which often uses large solid-wood sections for nonresidential construction, such as for storage, mercantile and industrial buildings.

In Europe, there is a trend to create larger “laminated” wood sections using the more traditional standardized dimensional lumber of the 1990s. This trend culminated in what is now classified as cross-laminated timber, or CLT. CLT can be used to create floor panels and roof panels. In North America, this is classified either as cross-laminated timber (CLT) or generically as mass timber.

CLT is essentially multiple layers of wood panels. Each layer of wooden panels is laid crosswise on the one before at approximately a 90° angle and glued using a polyurethane adhesive to increase the stability of the entire panel. Typical thickness of the individual boards can vary from 3/8″ to 2″ thick. Typical board width can vary from 2-3/8” to 9-1/2” wide. CLT panels are fabricated and marketed from 3-ply CLT up to 7-ply CLT. CLT SE Blog 1manufacturers normally publish characteristic properties for their panels – such as bending strength, shear strength, modulus of elasticity and panel stiffness – to assist Designers in specifying these products.

A Cross Laminated Timber Handbook has been published by FPInnovations in Canada as an introduction to CLT. This handbook can be downloaded for free here. The American Wood Council has a self-study guide on CLT that can be downloaded here.

As in all wood buildings, connection designs are critical to the success of this new type of building material. Simpson Strong-Tie offices in Europe have been instrumental in developing and supplying connectors and fasteners in the CLT market. Simpson Strong-Tie has developed many connectors specifically for the CLT market in Europe (Figure 3).

SE Blog 3

Those connectors are used to join the CLT floor panels to CLT wall panels and CLT wall panels to the concrete foundation (Figures 1 and 2).

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SE Blog 2Specialized ring-shank nails and long metal screws have been developed as well. In mid-2014, Simpson Strong-Tie North America (Pleasanton, California Testing Facility) embarked on an initial test program to assess those connectors and fasteners developed for the CLT market by Simpson Strong-Tie Europe, using North American CLT panels to verify and quantify the performance characteristics according to North American testing protocols (American Society for Testing and Materials and Canadian Construction Materials Centre).

The initial test program used CLT panels fabricated in Western Canada using Canadian Spruce-Pine-Fir (S-P-F) lumber. The connectors and ring-shank nails were imported from the Simpson Strong-Tie European manufacturing facilities. Testing of the connectors also included the Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive® SD screws, which as expected, provided higher load capacity than the ring-shank nails. A summary of the test program and the load rating developed for both the Canadian and the U.S. market can be downloaded here.

Other types of long countersunk screws such as the Strong-Drive® SDWS Timber screw (countersunk) or Strong-Drive SDWH Timber-Hex (hex head) screw (shown) are used either to splice the floor panels together or to drag the diaphragm loads back to the column or post as necessary.

SE Blog 4SE Blog 5

As CLT continues to gain acceptance in North America, other connection details will also become more popular. Simpson Strong-Tie intends to continue developing and improving connection details to support this type of construction.

Building code acceptance is another important requirement and development that is in progress in both Canada and the U.S. In Canada, the 2014 edition of CSA O86 “Engineering Design in Wood” has reserved a section for CLT.

The 2015 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) recognized CLT when it is manufactured to the product standard. CLT walls and floors will be permitted in all types of combustible construction. The 2015 National Design Specification (NDS) for Wood Construction was recently published and approved as an ANSI American National Standard. The 2015 National Design Specification is also referenced in the 2015 IBC.

The future is here. Environmentally friendly mass timber (including CLT) is poised to grow in use, especially with the recognition of CLT in the building codes. North American manufacturing of CLT has been established and can only grow to support the expanding use of this new building material.

References:

www.cwc.ca

www.awc.org

https://fpinnovations.ca

*Images with permission from FPInnovations