How to Safely Select Nail Substitutions for Connectors

A few days ago, I was speaking to a customer about an application using nail substitutions for a joist hanger installation. Her questions come up often, so I thought I would dedicate a blog post to some of the resources available that cover the use of different nails in connectors.

Designers and builders often wish to use different fasteners than the catalog specifies. The application could require short nails that don’t penetrate through the back of a ledger or they want to use screws or sinker nails for easier installation. The Wood Connectors Catalog provides multiple options for alternate nailing for face mount hangers and straight straps on page 27.

Fastener Reduction Factors
Fastener Reduction Factors

The load adjustments for alternate fasteners cover substitutions from a common diameter of 16d to a 10d, or a 10d to an 8d. Multiple different replacement lengths are also covered, with reduction factors ranging from 0.64 to 1.0.

It is important to remember that double shear hangers require 3” minimum joist nails. Short nails installed at an angle in double shear hangers will not have adequate penetration into the header.

Fastener - Double Shear
Fastener – Double Shear

Pneumatic nail guns used for connector installation are commonly referred to as positive placement nail guns. These tools either have a nose piece that locates connector hole, or the nail itself protrudes from the tool so that the installer can line the nail up with the hole. Most positive placement tools do not accept nails longer than 2½”, so framers using these tools will want to use 1½” or 2½” nails. To accommodate installers using pneumatic nails, we have a technical bulletin T-PNUEMATIC. This bulletin provides adjustment factors for many of our most common embedded holdowns, post caps and bases, hangers and twist straps.

The question of nail size also comes up when attaching hangers to rim board, which can range from 1” to 1¾”. The adjustment factors in C-2013 don’t necessarily apply with rim board, since the material may be thinner the length of the nails used. We also have a technical bulletin for that application – T-RIMBDHGR.

Rim Board Reduction Factors
Rim Board Reduction Factors

Several of the reduction factors are the same as those in the catalog. Testing of hangers with 10dx1½ nails on 1” OSB or 1¼” LVL did not do as well, however. We observed that once the nails withdrew a little bit under load, they quickly lost capacity. For that reason, we recommend full length 10d or 16d nails on those materials.

Rim board failure
Rim board failure

Understanding that alternate fasteners are available for many connectors can help you pick the right fastener for you application. When you specify a connector, it is important to also specify the fasteners you require to achieve your design load.

Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day:

Q.   What is your mom/dad's job?
A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk

Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work?
A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things

When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems.

I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.