But first, a confession – it has taken me many years to stop calling it “light-gauge steel.” When I started designing with cold-formed steel, I called it “light-gauge” because I had a binder of design information put together by the Light Gauge Steel Engineers Association. Advocates for CFS felt that “light-gauge” may make people think “weak” or “non-structural,” and that perception would limit the use of cold-formed steel in construction. So there was a deliberate effort to banish the word light-gauge and replace it with cold-formed steel, or CFS. I still slip every once in a while.
Connectors for light-gauge, ahem, I mean cold-formed steel members are covered under ICC-ES AC261 – Acceptance Criteria for Connectors Used with Cold-formed Steel Structural Members. The physical testing for cold-formed steel is similar to wood connectors. Build a setup representative of field conditions, apply load till failure and measure the load and deflection data. Both wood-to-wood and CFS connectors have a service limit state of 1/8” deflection.
Strength data for CFS connectors is analyzed much differently, however. Wood connectors generally use a safety factor of 3 on the lowest ultimate load (or average ultimate if six tests are run). We are often asked what the safety factor for CFS connectors is.
AISI S100 Chapter F details how to determine design strengths for tested CFS products. The design strength is the average test value, Rn, multiplied by an LRFD resistance factor, Φ, or divided by an ASD safety factor, Ω. Determining the resistance factor or corresponding safety factor is based on a statistical analysis dependent on several variables. This is similar in concept to how embedded concrete connectors tested to AC398 or AC399 are evaluated, which I discussed in this post.
I don’t want to get too deep into the Greek letters involved in the calculation. The factors that affect the allowable load calculation are type of member tested, variation in the test values, type of manufacturing, and number of samples tested. One factor that has a large impact on the calculation is the target reliability index, βo. In connector testing, this factor is 2.5 if the structural member (joist, stud, track, etc) fails and 3.5 if the connection fails. The net result is a higher safety factor for test values limited by the connection, and lower safety factors if the structural members governed the test load. Typical safety factors for CFS connectors are 1.8 to 2.0 where the failure mode is in the structural members and 2.2 to 2.9 for tests where the connection failed.
AC261 has a reduction factor, RS, which is used to adjust test values if your steel strength and/or steel thickness are over the specified minimum. CFS test setups often use different steel in the joist, header and the connector. Reductions are calculated based on the tested and specified strength and thickness for each member. The lowest reduction is used to adjust the test values.
One additional complexity in CFS testing is the multiple gauges of steel which must be evaluated. This requires more CFS test setups than a comparable wood connector would require. In the end, we have what we are really after. Design loads that specifiers can be confident in.
Simpson Strong-Tie is sponsoring the 24th Short Course on Cold-Formed Steel Structures hosted by the Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures (CCFSS). The course will be held on October 27-29, 2015 at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis, MO. This three-day course is for engineers who have limited or no experience designing with cold-formed steel (CFS), as well as those with experience who would like to expand their knowledge of cold-formed steel structural design. Lectures will be given by industry-recognized experts Roger LaBoube, Ph.D., P.E., and Sutton Stephens, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. The course is based on the 2012 AISI North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members and the 2012 North American Standards for Cold-Formed Steel Framing. Dr. Wei-Wen Yu’s book Cold-Formed Steel Design (4th Edition) will be a reference text. The course will address such topics as design of wall studs, floor joists, purlins, girts, decks and panels. It is eligible for 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Advance registration is requested by October 10, 2015. For more information and to register, click here.
Simpson Strong-Tie is sponsoring the 24th Short Course on Cold-Formed Steel Structures hosted by the Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures (CCFSS). The course will be held on October 27-29, 2015 at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis, MO.
This three-day course is for engineers who have limited or no experience designing with cold-formed steel (CFS), as well as those with experience who would like to expand their knowledge of cold-formed steel structural design. Lectures will be given by industry-recognized experts Roger LaBoube, Ph.D., P.E., and Sutton Stephens, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. The course is based on the 2012 AISI North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members and the 2012 North American Standards for Cold-Formed Steel Framing. Dr. Wei-Wen Yu’s book Cold-Formed Steel Design (4th Edition) will be a reference text.
The course will address such topics as design of wall studs, floor joists, purlins, girts, decks and panels. It is eligible for 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Advance registration is requested by October 10, 2015. For more information and to register, click here.
While consideration of bracing is important for any structural element, this is especially true for thin, singly symmetric cold-formed steel (CFS) framing members such as wall studs. Without proper consideration of bracing, excessive buckling or even failure could occur. Bracing is required to resist buckling due to axial or out-of-plane lateral loads or a combination of the two.
There are two methods for bracing CFS studs as prescribed by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) Committee on Framing Standards (COFS) S211 “North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing – Wall Stud Design” Section B1. One is sheathing braced design and the other is steel braced design.
Sheathing braced design has limitations, but it is a cost effective method of bracing studs since sheathing is typically attached to wall studs. This design method is based on an assumption that the sheathing connections to the stud are the bracing points and so it’s limited by the strength of the sheathing fastener to stud connection. Due to this limitation, the Designer has to use a steel braced design for most practical situations. AISI S211 prescribes a maximum nominal stud axial load for gypsum board sheathing with fasteners spaced no more than 12 inches on center. AISI S211 Section B1 and the Commentary discuss the design method and assumptions and demonstrate how to determine the sheathing bracing strength.
Sheathing braced design requires that identical sheathing is used on each side of the wall stud, except the new AISI S240 standard Section B22.214.171.124 clarifies that for curtain wall studs it is permissible to have sheathing on one side and discrete bracing for the other flange not spaced further than 8 feet on center. The wall stud is connected to the top and bottom tracks or supporting members to provide lateral and torsional support and the construction drawings should note that the sheathing is a structural element. When the sheathing on either side is not identical, the Designer must assume the weaker of the two sheathings is attached to each side. In addition, the Designer is required to design the wall studs without the sheathing for the load combination 1.2D + (0.5L or 0.2S) + 0.2W as a consideration for construction loads of removed or ineffective sheathing. The Designer should neglect the rotational restraint of the sheathing when determining the wall stud flexural strength and is limited by the AISI S100 Section C5.1 interaction equations for designing a wall stud under combined axial and flexural loading.
Steel braced design may use the design methodology shown in AISI S211 or in AISI Committee on Specifications (COS) S100 “North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members.”
Steel braced design is typically either non-proprietary or proprietary “clip and bridging” bracing, or “flat strap and blocking” bracing periodically spaced along the height of the wall stud.
Steel braced design is a more practical bracing method for several reasons. First, during construction, wall studs go unsheathed for many months, but are subjected to significant construction loads.This is especially true for load-bearing, mid-rise structures. Second, some sheathing products, including gypsum wallboard, can be easily damaged and rendered ineffective if subjected to water or moisture. Third, much higher bracing loads can be achieved using mechanical bracing. IBC Section 2211.4 permits Designers to design steel bracing for axially loaded studs using AISI S100 or S211. However, S100-07 requires the brace to be designed to resist not only 1% of the stud nominal axial compressive strength (S100-12 changes this to 1% of the required compressive axial strength), but also requires a certain brace stiffness. S211 requires the Designer to design the bracing for 2% of the stud design compression force, and it does not have a stiffness requirement. . AISI S100 is silent regarding combined loading, but S211 provides guidance. S211 requires that, for combined loading, the Designer designs for the combined brace force determined using S100 Section D3.2.1 for the flexural load in the stud and either S100 or S211 for the axial load. In addition, the bracing force for stud bracing is accumulative as stated by S211 Commentary section B3. As a result, the periodic anchorage of the bracing to the structure such as strongbacks or diagonal strap bracing is required.
Some benefits and challenges of steel clip and bridging bracing include:
Proprietary solutions, such as the Simpson Strong-Tie SUBH bridging connector, can significantly reduce installed cost since many situations require only one screw at each connection.
Unlike strap bracing, u-channel bracing can be installed from one side of the wall.
U-channel bracing does not create build-up that can make drywall finishing more difficult.
Extra coordination may be required to ensure that u-channel bridging does not interfere with plumbing and electrical services that run vertically in the stud bay.
Bracing for axial loaded studs requires periodic anchorage to the structure, such as using strongbacks or diagonal strap bracing.
Bracing of laterally loaded studs does not require periodic anchorage since the system is in equilibrium as torsion in the stud is resisted by bridging (e.g., U-channel) bending.
Some benefits and challenges of steel flat strap and blocking bracing include:
May be installed at other locations than stud punchout.
Required to be installed on both sides of wall.
Bumps out sheathing.
Bracing for axial loaded studs requires periodic anchorage to structure, such as using strongbacks or diagonal strap bracing (same load direction in stud flanges).
Bracing for laterally loaded studs requires design of periodic blocking or periodic anchorage to the structure (opposite load direction in stud flanges).
There are several good examples Designers may reference when designing CFS wall stud bracing. They include AISI D110 Cold-Formed Steel Framing Design Guide that may be purchased from www.cfsei.org, SEAOC Structural/Seismic Design Manual Volume 2 Example 3 that may be purchased from www.seaoc.org, and the Simpson Strong-Tie wall stud steel bracing design example on page 60 of the C-CFS-15 CFS catalog.
Cold-formed steel framing is a versatile construction material, but Designers need to carefully consider the bracing requirements of the AISI specification and wall stud design standard. What cold-formed steel wall bracing challenges have you encountered and what were your solutions?
The number of midrise structures constructed using light-frame cold-formed steel (CFS) certainly seems to be increasing each year. As with any material, there are benefits and challenges, especially in areas of moderate to high seismic risk. This post will discuss these as well as potential solutions.
Light-frame CFS midrise construction often uses ledger floor framing primarily to facilitate the load transfer detailing at the floor, tension anchorage (tie-downs or hold-downs) and compression chord studs or posts designed to resist the amplified seismic overturning loads. CFS framing is typically thin and singly symmetric.
Amplified Seismic Load
The AISI Lateral Design standard (AISI S213-07/S1-09) Section C5.1.2 requires that the nominal strength of uplift (tension) anchorage and the compression chord studs for shear walls resist the lesser of (1) the amplified seismic load or (2) the maximum load the system can deliver when the response modification coefficient, R, greater than 3. The amplified seismic load is defined as the load determined using the ASCE 7 seismic load combinations with the overstrength factor, Wo, which may be taken as 2.5 for CFS framed shear wall systems with flexible diaphragms.
Typically, the maximum the system can deliver to the uplift anchorage or chord studs is taken as the forces determined using the nominal shear strength of the shear wall assembly tabulated in the seismic shear wall table in S213 multiplied by 1.3. The S213 commentary accounts for the tabulated loads being based on Sequential Phased Displacement (SPD) rather than CUREE cyclic protocol and the degraded backbone curve. See theStructure magazine article that discusses the design of CFS framed lateral force-resisting systems.
Continuous Rod Tie-Down Systems
Light-framed CFS over three stories often use continuous rod tie-down systems rather than cold-formed steel hold-downs to resist shear wall overturning forces as they offer increased load capacity. Neglecting the dead load contribution, the amplified seismic load requirement for CFS shear walls using an R greater than 3 results in an 80% increase in the load used to size the continuous rod tie-down system compared to design level loads. For shear walls using an R greater than 3, it is important to note on the design drawings whether the uplift loads shown are ASD, LRFD, amplified ASD or amplified LRFD so the appropriate tie-down system may be designed.
Continuous rod tie-down systems are designed not only for strength, but also checked to ensure they do not deflect too much to cause the top of shear wall drift to exceed the code limit or to exceed the 0.20” vertical story deflection limit required by some jurisdictions and ICC-ES AC316. Take-up devices are used in CFS framed structures to take-up construction and settlement gaps that may occur. AISI S200 Section C3.4.4 states that a gap of up to 1/8” might occur between the end of wall framing and the track. The vertical elongation of the continuous rod tie-down system includes rod elongation (PL/AE) and the take-up device deflection due to the seating increment and the deflection under load.
In addition, coordination is important in using continuous rod tie-down systems in CFS structures because the walls are often prefabricated offsite. An example is the consideration of the appropriate detail for the steel bearing plate installed at the floor sheathing in the story above to resist the uplift (tension) force from the story below.
One possible detail is to install the bearing plate in the bottom CFS track under all the CFS chord studs, but it’s important to ensure the bottom track flanges are deep enough to screw them to the stud flanges as the bearing plate can have a thickness of 1 ½” or more and typical tracks use 1 ¼” flanges. It is also important to ensure that the bearing plate width fits in the track. Another possible detail is to install the bearing plate under the CFS track under all the CFS chord studs. However, then it must be cut into the floor sheathing and may cause the bottom track to be raised at the bearing plate. For this detail, the floor shear transfer must be detailed through the ledger into the CFS framing.
Concrete Tension Anchorage
The concrete tension anchorage is designed according to ACI 318 Appendix D using the continuous steel rod material and size in accordance with S213 to have the nominal strength to resist the lesser of the amplified seismic force or the maximum load the system can deliver. ACI 318-11 Section D.126.96.36.199 offers four force limits for design of concrete tension anchorage design in Seismic Design Category C through F:
(1) The concrete nominal tension anchorage strength shall be greater than 1.2 times the ductile steel rod nominal tension anchorage strength
(2) The anchorage design strength shall be greater than the maximum tension force that can be delivered by a yielding attachment;
(3) The anchorage design strength shall be greater than the maximum tension force that can be delivered by a non-yielding attachment; and
(4) The anchorage design strength shall be greater than the amplified seismic force.
Typically either option (1) or (4) is used where (1) would lead to less concrete required than (4) if the bolt is efficiently sized while (4) would be required for such conditions as a vertical irregularity. See the concrete anchorage and podium anchorage SE Blog posts for more details.
CFS Wall Stud Bracing
CFS studs are typically thin and singly symmetric and thus require bracing. AISI S211 (Wall Stud Design Standard) permits two types of bracing design that cannot be combined; sheathing based or steel based. There are limits on the stud axial strength when using sheathing braced design. It’s important to identify on the drawings that the sheathing braces the studs and another load combination must be used for the stud design.
2012 IBC Section 2211.4 requires stud bracing to be designed using either AISI S100 (North American Specification) or S211 (Wall Stud Design Standard). S100-07 Section D3.3 required nominal brace strength is to be 1% of the stud’s nominal compressive axial strength, but S100-12 Section D3.3 changes this to the required brace strength is to be 1% of the stud’s required compressive axial strength (demand load). In addition, D3.3 requires a certain stiffness for each brace. AISI S211 required brace strength is to be 2% of each stud’s required compressive axial strength for axially loaded studs and, for combined bending and axial loads, be designed for the combined brace force per S100 Section D3.2.2 and 2% of the stud’s required compressive axial strength.
There are two primary types of steel stud bracing systems: bridging and strap bracing. U-channel bridging extends through the stud punchouts and is attached to the stud with a clip, of which there are various solutions such as this post on Wall Stud Bridging. Bridging bracing requires coordination with the building elements in the stud bay. It installs on one side of the wall, and does not bump out the wall sheathing. It also requires periodic anchorage to distribute the cumulative bracing loads to the structure for axially loaded studs often using strongback studs and does not require periodic anchorage for laterally loaded studs since the system is in equilibrium as the torsion in the stud is resisted by the U-channel bending.
Flat strap bracing is installed on either side of the wall and at locations other than the stud punchout. It bumps out the sheathing and requires periodic anchorage to distribute the cumulative bracing loads to the structure for axially and laterally loaded studs.
The Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures has issued a Call for Papers for the 22nd International Conference on Cold-Formed Steel (CFS) Structures, to be held Nov. 5-6 in St. Louis, MO. The goal of the conference is to enable sharing of state-of-the-art information pertaining to CFS design.
Both engineering researchers and practitioners have provided valuable contributions to the conference. Past proceedings are available online.
Researchers and practitioners are encouraged to submit abstracts for consideration by the conference steering committee. Application-oriented topics highlighting innovations in CFS applications are strongly encouraged. The deadline is Dec. 31. Abstracts may be submitted by e-mail to email@example.com.
Simpson Strong-Tie is sponsoring the 23rd Short Course on Cold-Formed Steel Structures hosted by the Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures (CCFSS). The course will be held on October 15-17, 2013 at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis, MO.
This course is for engineers who have limited or no experience designing with cold-formed steel (CFS), as well as those with experience who would like to expand their knowledge. Lectures will be given by industry-recognized experts Roger LaBoube, Ph.D, P.E., and Sutton Stephens, Ph.D, P.E., S.E. The course is based on the 2007 and 2012 AISI North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members with the 2010 Supplement (AISI S100-07/S2-10 and S100-12) and will reference the Cold-Formed Steel Design (4th Edition) text.
Topics include design of wall studs, floor joists, purlins, girts, decks and panels. For more information and to register, visit the CCFSS website.
For the first half-dozen years of my professional career, my experience with cold-formed steel (CFS) consisted of sizing studs for non-structural walls and red-marking the bracing details on architectural plans. When the dotcom bubble burst, my firm needed to shift its focus from high-tech commercial and industrial to more multifamily design work. Several developers we worked with built with CFS, so in addition to designing condominiums instead of cleanrooms, I was designing CFS. Less than 10% of engineers have any exposure to CFS design as part of their undergraduate education. OK – so this is based on an informal survey of about 50 colleagues, but I suspect if I were to hire a market research firm for lots of money, I’d pretty much get the same response. Continue Reading
For the first half-dozen years of my professional career, my experience with cold-formed steel (CFS) consisted of sizing studs for non-structural walls and red-marking the bracing details on architectural plans. When the dotcom bubble burst, my firm needed to shift its focus from high-tech commercial and industrial to more multifamily design work. Several developers we worked with built with CFS, so in addition to designing condominiums instead of cleanrooms, I was designing CFS.
Less than 10% of engineers have any exposure to CFS design as part of their undergraduate education. OK – so this is based on an informal survey of about 50 colleagues, but I suspect if I were to hire a market research firm for lots of money, I’d pretty much get the same response.
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