Frequently Asked Questions
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Question: Do I need to use special hardware for the new chemicals used to pressure-treat wood?
Answer: It depends on how the wood is treated:

For wood treated with ACZA, ACQ, CC, and CA, the answer is YES. Hardware manufacturers advise using STAINLESS STEEL fasteners to connect wood treated with these chemicals. Fasteners would include sill anchor bolts, framing clips in contact with treated wood, nails driven through treated sills into the ends of studs, nails used to fasten shear panels or other sheathing to treated sills, hangers used for treated deck joists or ledgers, etc.

If you use wood treated with Borates, you can use "regular" hardware.
Question: Do shear panels perform better if they are placed at the corners of a building?
Answer: There is no magic in locating shear walls at a building's corners. When plywood was first introduced, it was presented as an alternative to let-in braces, which typically were installed at building corners. Early literature put out by the American Plywood Association showed plywood panels placed at a building's corners simply because at that time windows were not placed as close to corners as they are in today's home designs. Properly designed shear wall segments can be located anywhere along a length of wall.
Question: Do I need tie-downs at the end of every shear wall segment?
Answer: If the approved plans call for them, then YES. Otherwise, not necessarily. If the weight of the wall and the structure above it will keep the shear wall segment from overturning, you do not need tie-downs. Shear walls that also bear the weight of floor or roof framing above are less likely to need tie-downs than shear walls that run parallel to joists or rafters above them. Long shear wall segments are less likely to need tie-downs than short segments are. A competent engineer will need to determine whether you need tie-downs.
Question: Will it hurt to install tie-downs even if the plans do not require them?
Answer: It is hard to imagine a case where installing tie-downs would hurt the performance of a shear wall.
Question: Can I substitute products like Simpson's SSTB anchors for anchor rods at tie-downs?
Answer: These anchors typically perform just as well as standard anchor rods. Simpson manufactures the threads on their anchors by roll-forming them, not by cutting them. The threads do not always come out perfectly round in this process. You should check to make sure that a nut will thread onto the anchor BEFORE you cast it into your footing. Otherwise you will need to dress the threads on the anchor with a threading die before you can attach a tie-down to it. You will need to check with the design professional if your plans show something besides this sort of anchor.
Question: Do shear walls need to be placed symmetrically around a structure?
Answer: No. As long as the shear walls are connected to the other structural elements of the building, they may be placed where the architectural design allows. (Sometimes this can present quite a challenge for the engineer.) See the section on Collectors in "Wood-Framed Shear Wall Construction --an Illustrated Guide".
Question: Can I rip the studs and plates in a shear wall section to a narrower width so that I don't have to furr out the rest of the wall area?
Answer: For 2x4 walls, this would be questionable. For 2x6 walls, the answer is probably "yes". This should be discussed with the engineer who designed the building. Cutting part of your studs away weakens them for two reasons: First, obviously, you have less wood. But the bigger issue has to do with the way lumber is graded. Knots up to a certain size are allowed in lumber of a particular grade, as long as they are a given distance from the edge of the board. If you cut away straight-grained wood and leave a knot at the edge of your narrower stud you do not have nearly the strength that you did before. 2x6 walls less than 12 feet tall are usually much stronger than needed for typical construction. For eight or nine-foot tall walls, ripping 1/2-inch off 2x6 studs would probably not be noticed.
Question: Does it matter whether I nail the shear panels to the double plate (crown plate), or can I just nail to the lower member in the doubled top plate?
Answer: Remember where the shear forces originate and where you need them to go. (See section 2.3.1 of the Shear Wall Construction Guide.) If you nail the shear panels to the bottom member of a doubled plate, then you must nail the two double plate members together at the same spacing as the shear panel edge-nailing. If you nail the panels to the double plate (crown plate), then you do not need additional nails between the two plate members. NOTE: for heavier shear walls, the designer should call for staggering the panel edge nailing between the two plate members to help keep them from splitting--in this case, you will need to nail the plate members together at a closer spacing than normal.
Question: When using blocking in line with headers and sills of windows you recommend extending the blocking to the end of the shear wall. In the case where a door and a window are along the same shear wall but have different head heights, would you still recommend extending the blocking at the door header height to the end of the shear wall?
Answer: Typically if you have a door opening, that will be one end of the shear wall. In the case where you have windows with different head or sill heights you can generally block and strap in line with the highest header and the lowest sill, unless the plans indicate otherwise. As stated in section 5.1.1 of the Shear Wall Construction Guide, you need a continuous element above and below the openings. If the opening is close enough to the bottom or top of the wall, you may not need blocking and strapping. This is usually true for windows with head heights of 6'-10" in 8-foot walls--the top of the opening is close enough to the wall top plate that the plate can serve as the continuous element. Specific cases will involve determining the height-to-width ratios of the shear wall segments next to the windows and such. These answers will have to come from a design professional.
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Please submit your own questions by e-mailing them to: faq "at" shearwalls.com

If we use a question or topic in a future edition of Wood-frame Shear Wall Construction or similar publications we will pay US$25 to the first person who submits the material.

We can answer general, conceptual questions about shear walls. However, we cannot give answers to specific questions such as "what size hold-down should I use at the end of a 10-foot long shear wall?" If you need specific engineering advice, contact a competent design professional licensed to practice in your state.

For copyright reasons this website cannot answer questions on material that is already covered in Wood-frame Shear Wall Construction--an Illustrated Guide.
Also Wanted
From engineers, inspectors, and architects:
The most "creative" ways that you have seen shear walls built incorrectly.

From carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other trade workers:
The most annoying shear wall designs you have had to build. Example: Tie-downs sandwiched between studs where they will prevent drilling holes for plumbing and wiring.
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